Now less than one week away from National Signing Day, former Maryland offensive coordinator and current Penn State head coach James Franklin was on the Baltimore airwaves Friday morning, appearing on 105.7 The Fan in a region that the Nittany Lions are looking to control on the recruiting trail.
Inevitably, he was asked about his ties back to the Maryland program and how the situation deteriorated from a plan where he was the assumed coach-in-waiting to his eventual decision to take the head coaching job at Vanderbilt.
“I’m not going there,” Franklin said with a laugh. “I’m not even going to go there, but what I will say is I am unbelievably appreciative and grateful of my time at Maryland.
“I had a great experience, some of the high school coaches and people in that state are still some of my closest friends. I had a great time there, learned a lot about football.”
His ties to the region remain strong, which is why Penn State should be a big-time player in the area on the recruiting front, and Franklin elaborated on that point.
“I had an unbelievable experience and will always consider that, you know, part of my home,” he said. “I got family there. My aunts work at Howard. I got buddies. I got my cousins is a high school coach in Washington, D.C., so that’s a second home to me.”
It’s a second home that Franklin is already making in-roads in for this 2014 recruiting class, jumping in on the recruitment of five-star offensive lineman Damian Prince of Bishop McNamara (Md.).
Prince, a 6-4, 292-pound prospect who is ranked in the Top 20 nationally, is also considering Maryland, Florida, Auburn, and LSU.
“We’re going to try to dominate the whole region, obviously starting out in our own state, but if you look Penn State historically has been able to do a great job in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, New England, you know, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., Virginia,” Franklin said.
“Those states should be really, really good to Penn State and I hired a staff with strong connections in all those areas. We will be there. We will be extremely active and I think Penn State is an unbelievable option.”
Maryland’s move to the Big Ten in July means that not only are the two programs head-to-head in recruiting, but they will play one another, as well. On Nov. 1, the Terrapins travel to Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions.
Franklin was complimentary of head coach Randy Edsall’s program, which made its first bowl appearance this past season after finishing with a losing record in each of his first two years at the helm.
“Maryland’s got a great program. Randy’s doing a great job there,” Franklin said, before shifting the focus back to his program. “I think we’ve got a great situation. My job now is to work as hard as I possibly can in every aspect to give Penn State the best chance to be as successful as they possibly can.”
National Signing Day is Feb. 5.
Listen to his full interview on 105.7 The Fan here.