by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com
After taking Vanderbilt to new heights thanks to his recruiting success there, new Penn State head football coach James Franklin has Penn State trailing only Alabama as far as recruiting success with the class of 2015. He also has more commits than any other program in the country.
In my motivational programs and books, I emphasize the importance of attitude and making a difference. Franklin is about attitude. In fact, he has a degree in Psychology from his days of playing quarterback at D2 East Stroudsburg State. He earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Washington State.
Even before he got into coaching his whole thing in life was that he wanted to make a positive impact on people and help them reach their life’s potential.
When he was at Vanderbilt, Franklin’s strategy for recruiting highly rated kids was to tell them they could go to a SEC power and get compared to someone who already had success there, or they could come to Vandy and make their own legacy. That worked with a lot of recruits.
At Penn State, he is tearing it up on the recruiting trail. In a May 27th USA Today story by Paul Myerberg, Franklin and his staff shared their philosophies on recruiting.
Two factors have contributed to Penn State’s effective start on the recruiting trail. The first is continuity, in a sense: Seven of Penn State’s nine assistants worked alongside Franklin at Vanderbilt, meaning each understood the program’s approach despite an unfamiliarity with the general recruiting region – though several coaches, like offensive coordinator John Donovan, are either from the area or scouted local prospects while with the Commodores.
Second, per Franklin’s demand, each assistant coach is active on social media, using the direct-message tool to keep in constant contact with committed and uncommitted recruits. Assistants recruit an area – splitting New Jersey into three zones, for example – but no one coach handles a single prospect alone; each potential signee builds a relationship with several coaches, sometimes on separate sides of the ball.
It’s about checks and balances: Penn State’s recruits must pledge their commitment to two coaches, for example, not just one, while Franklin signs off on each potential new addition to the program. The staff has been able to connect with recruits by layering relationships, Franklin said; the location has changed, he added, but the message hasn’t.
“The thing about James is, no one’s going to recruit harder than him, and it’s all about relationships,” said East Stroudsburg University offensive line coach Mike Santella, Franklin’s college roommate.
“And that’s not just lip service with him. He believes that. That’s what makes him different than a lot of people. He’s going to want to get to know everything about you.”
And, as such, the details make the difference.
“You’ve got to know how to sell that university, what makes that university special compared to somewhere else,” quarterback coach Ricky Rahne said. “You’ve got to be able to embrace those and sell those things. You’ve got to know the little things, and that’s probably the hardest.”
My motivational programs are built on the importance of attitude and enthusiasm about life, and one reason so many good kids are saying yes to Franklin is his never ending enthusiasm and positive attitude. I have delivered hundreds of programs over the years in high school settings and I have found the number one thing kids like about my talks are the enthusiastic way in which they are delivered and how positive I am about their potential in life.
I hope these insights from coach Franklin and his staff are helpful to you in your recruiting!
Charlie Adams is the author of four books on peak performance and the power of attitude, including 2013’s ‘How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing! His oldest son was a college cross country runner and his oldest daughter is a college swimmer. You can read more of Charlie’s motivational articles at stokethefirewithin.com