Recruits react to Franklin extension: “Honestly, I never really had a doubt"

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Recruits react to Franklin extension: “Honestly, I never really had a doubt"

Ryan Snyder7 days
Article written by:Ryan SnyderRyan Snyder

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Defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton and other prospects give their thoughts on James Franklin's contract extension. (Photo Credit: BWI/Ryan Snyder)

It’s been about two months now since Penn State head coach James Franklin started being linked to the opening at USC. When LSU followed a few weeks later, rumors spread quickly that the eighth-year head coach could be moving on from State College. Not so fast.

On Tuesday, Penn State announced a 10-year contract extension for Franklin that will pay him $85 million guaranteed. With it comes a higher buyout over the next few years, too, although it does drop off significantly in 2024 to just $2,000,000. That’s a lot to you and I, but nothing in regards to some other buyouts in college football.

But maybe most importantly in the immediate future, it also helps guarantee that Penn State will sign one of the best recruiting classes under his leadership. The Nittany Lions currently rank No. 8 in the On3 Consensus Team Rankings, and it still could move up a bit depending on how other schools finish out.

Penn State’s Class of 2022 commits were never shy about the subject, repeatedly saying throughout October and November that they expected him to stay. The group officially learned of the news last Wednesday, Nov. 17, during a group Zoom session with the majority of those committed.

We caught up with a handful of Penn State’s top commits to get their opinion on the extension.

QB Beau Pribula

– Your thoughts on James Franklin signing an extension?

“Yeah, it’s really exciting. I think we all felt a lot better knowing that he was going to sign that extension and the security it brings for all of us. When we all committed, it was because of Penn State, and that’s really important, but for basically all of us, it was because of Franklin, too. Knowing that he’s going to be the guy there for a long time is just incredibly exciting. We know how much this program means to him and what his goals are. We’re all committed to those goals, too.”

– Were you ever even a little bit worried that Franklin could move on?

“Honestly, I never really had a doubt. I honestly mean that. He was just very upfront the entire time. I never really felt like he wasn’t being completely honest with us. That’s how he approaches everything and he’s a very consistent person. I never had a reason to not believe what he was telling me personally and the entire group.”

– Can you share anything from the Zoom last week when you learned the news?

“The big takeaway for me was just how excited everyone was. Everyone unmuted themselves and were congratulating him and were just fired up to know that this was done. The entire group was just really hyped when he told us that. That was something I’ll never forget.”

QB Drew Allar

– Your thoughts on James Franklin signing an extension?

“I think for the whole class, it’s super nice to know. I think we always thought that James Franklin would never leave, and he never really wanted to leave, but just to be reassured of that is a great feeling to have. Coach Franklin is always upfront and honest with us. He told us repeatedly that he wants to stay at Penn State, that he wants to win a national championship at Penn State, but also just had to get things done, work some things out with his contract to help us get to that goal. That’s all just reassuring for us. We couldn’t ask for a better coach to play for.”

– Were you ever even a little bit worried that Franklin could move on?

“I honestly never thought he was going to leave. To me, some of the jobs they were linking him with just didn’t make any logical sense as to why he would want to leave Penn State. Personally, I don’t think people give him enough credit for how much he’s built at Penn State during the time he’s been there. I know he’s happy with what he’s done, but he’s not satisfied. He has major goals and I love that. That’s what I want in a coach. We’re all going to keep working on that goal of bringing a national championship to Happy Valley.”

– Can you share anything from the Zoom last week when you learned the news?

“I would just share how excited everyone was when he told us what’s going on. I think we all had that feeling that he wasn’t going to leave, but we were just waiting for something to actually happen. It’s amazing and I know we’re all super grateful for that. Honestly, I think we’re also all super appreciative for how he handled everything. He was upfront and honest with us from the very beginning. I know he was very upfront and honest with me, and that goes back to when he first started recruiting me with Coach Yurcich. He’s never changed.

“I can’t stress how much I appreciate having a head coach doing what he said and preached to us. I think that’s a huge thing for the culture of the program. You really do see that in regards to how family-oriented it is. It’s a major reason why the team is as tight as it is, especially with the coaching staff.” 

TE Jerry Cross

– Your thoughts on James Franklin signing an extension?

“I’m just incredibly happy to know that all the rumors have been cleared up. [The recruits] already knew that, but to have it out there now, knowing that he’s going to be here for a long time, it feels good. This was something Pat Freiermuth told me when Coach [Tyler] Bowen ended up leaving for the NFL. Pat told me that I had to trust the head guy because he’s going to take Penn State to the promised land. That always stuck with me and I always believed that would be the case. It’s great knowing this is the direction everyone wants to go. It built my trust with him even more knowing that he’ll be there, leading me to where I need to go.”

– Were you ever even a little bit worried that Franklin could move on?

“No, there was never a time where I was worried. I always knew. I just built a trust with him throughout all of this. We’ve had so many talks over the past year really, and all of those talks we’ve had were always honest and upfront. Why would he be any different now? That’s just not how he does things. But also, I never thought he would leave a top class like this. I don’t think he would want to do that to any of his classes. All of his guys mean too much to him.”

– Can you share anything from the Zoom last week when you learned the news?

“I wasn’t on the Zoom last week when he kind of filled everyone in. I was training at the time. We had some small talks on our own about it, but not too many. For the most part, whenever this topic was discussed, we did it in a group Zoom with the entire class. We do a group Zoom probably every other week. I like that approach. He’s always telling all of us the same thing, making sure everyone is on the same page.”

DE Dani Dennis-Sutton

– Your thoughts on James Franklin signing an extension?

“For me, it’s exciting, but more so for Coach Franklin than anything else. He’s a great coach, obviously. He’s done a lot of great things for Penn State, so it was good to see him get his contract extended. But honestly, I really mean this, even if he wasn’t staying, and I told Coach Franklin this, I genuinely love Penn State. It’s not just about Coach Franklin for me. I love the atmosphere, the community, the people. So, if Coach Franklin left, I never saw myself leaving. But, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t very happy that he is staying. I do love Coach Franklin, what he’s doing at Penn State and all that. I’m looking forward to playing for him.”

– Were you ever even a little bit worried that Franklin could move on?

“Honestly, no. Coach Franklin came to me and most of the other commits before I even saw the stuff on social media. That was big, I thought. He told us very early that he doesn’t plan on leaving, but did want to give us a heads up that we’re gonna probably start seeing rumors. But I really appreciated him letting us know that before me seeing that on my own. I never even got the chance to question him. He came to us before all of this started and explained what’s going on here, why it’s happening, all of that. There was really no doubt that he was going to stay.”

– Did you have many talks with Franklin about this topic over the past two months? 

“I probably talk to him two or three times a week now. I honestly probably talk to him more than anyone on the staff now. We did have a private talk a little before our Zoom last week, 

– Can you share anything from the Zoom last week when you learned the news?

“All of the guys were just incredibly happy. Everyone was just congratulating him and all that. I remember we started talking about winning the Big Ten and maybe winning a national championship one day. You never know man. That’s why we’re all coming here. To take this team to a different level. But we’re all very excited to play for Coach Franklin. That was definitely clear on that Zoom. Everyone on there was just so pumped when he told us the news. We think we have something special with this 2022 class.”