Dominate the state. That is the motto new Penn State head coach James Franklin has been selling since his first press conference in Happy Valley. After putting together a solid Class of 2014 in his short time at Penn State, Franklin and his coaching staff have already lined up five of the top 15 players from the state of Pennsylvania for the Class of 2015, highlighted Thursday with the verbal commitment of running back Andre Robinson, from a Bishop McDevitt High school program in Harrisburg that has traditionally been rich in talent that goes away from Penn State. Whatever Franklin and his staff are doing at Penn State seems to be working.
Franklin and his staff have already been breathing new life in to a program still in recovery mode. The staff has embraced social media and is reaching out to fans and delivering a unified message. The coaches are also getting involved in their new surroundings. Just last weekend coaches checked out the record-breaking THON dance marathon on Penn State’s campus. For a football program that for years was stuck in old-fashioned methods, Franklin and his staff are embracing it and utilizing them to their advantage.
For decades now, Penn State has been considered a bit of a sleeping giant. Instead of the powerhouse that was expected to compete for Big Ten titles on an annual basis, the Nittany Lions have won just three Big Ten titles since joining the conference in 1993. The scandal that rocked the university and community in November 2011 may have helped derail a bid for a fourth conference title, and the fallout was expected to be much more severe.
Penn State was supposed to be a program leveled by NCAA sanctions in 2012, but Bill O’Brien managed to keep the program afloat, and Franklin appears set to have the program competing at a high level when an NCAA postseason ban is lifted in two more seasons, if not before. Franklin is aided by the NCAA giving back some lost scholarships, and the new head coach is capitalizing on that. With two years remaining on the postseason ban, Franklin is guiding the program to the end of the tunnel. While the university could take longer to regroup, and the healing process as a whole will continue on, as far as football is concerned it looks as though Franklin is in a good position to do some damage.
Penn State is not quite awake from sleeping giant status yet, but the alarm is about to go off.
Well here’s a bit of a shocker for you this morning. UCLA running back Myles Jack has reportedly withdrawn from UCLA and will prepare to enter the NFL Draft in 2016. The news was first reported, via Twitter, by Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated.
Jack has played linebacker and fullback for the Bruins, and his decision to turn pro now comes off feeling a bit strange. Head coach Jim Mora certainly questions the decision by Jack.
“I think it’s very risky to do this. There’s a lot of speculation to ….where he fits,” Mora explained, via Thamel. “I’ve been in 25 Draft rooms. I’ve never seen a guys taken off (two games of junior tape)… Myles’ talent is without question. I hope he’s put enough out there where they can get a true evaluation.”
Jack suffered a season-ending knee injury last month in a practice. The injury led USC Athletics Director Pat Haden to send him a letter wishing him well in a sign of good sportsmanship between conference and crosstown rivals. Perhaps the season-ending injury led Jack to consider the consequences of returning in 2016 in a UCLA uniform, with players not being compensated for their play. The question then becomes if Jack is a good enough talent to go in round one, or even round two, considering the latest injury situation for him.
Well, here is the instant opinion of our friend Josh Norris of Rotoworld and an NFL Draft analyst…
Jack was a two-time second team All-Pac-12 selection and Pac-12 Defensive and Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2013.
Virginia Tech has been playing just about the whole season without starting quarterback Michael Brewer after the Hokies signal-caller broke his collarbone in the first game of the season. Now, Brewer is on his way back to the field. Brewer has been medically cleared to return to practice in Blacksburg. It may still be another few weeks until he gets back in a game for Virginia Tech.
Brewer broke his collarbone in Virginia Tech’s season-opening loss to Ohio State. Once he left the game, it seemed the Hokies were unable to give the defending national champions much of a fight for a second straight season. He was originally expected to miss eight to 10 weeks of action, which would have meant a return for a Halloween game against Boston College as the earliest likely date. Virginia Tech has a bye week after the Boston College game, meaning Brewer could then be available for a Thursday night division game against Georgia Tech on November 12. Considering all of that, the chance Brewer might be available to play this Friday night against N.C. State is quite a pleasant surprise for a Virginia Tech team in need of some help after dropping to 2-3 after a second straight loss last weekend. Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times says Brewer could be a gametime decision for Frank Beamer.
The outlook is not quite as possible for Hokies running back Marshawn Williams. Williams will be out for the rest of the season after reinjuring his left knee in practice in late September. It is the same knee that was surgically repaired last December. Williams can use this season as his redshirt season as he has not played in a game this season. He will still have three years of eligibility remaining when he returns to the team next fall.