Is James Franklin waking a sleeping giant at Penn State?

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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.

Maryland RB Lorenzo Harrison III medically retires from football

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Maryland running back Lorenzo Harrison III announced he is medically retiring from football. In a statement shared on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon, Harrison cited his history with knee trouble as a reason he is stepping away from playing football moving forward.

“[During] the last game I competed in, I suffered a severe knee injury,” Harrison explained. “Due to those circumstances which are far out of my control, I believe it is in my best interest to convert my focus from ball to the next great thing God has in store for me. With that being said, I am medically retiring from the game that has given me everything I could ever ask for.”

The last game Harrison played was on Sept. 27, 2019 at home against Penn State. In Maryland’s 59-0 loss to the Nittany Lions, Harrison had one rushing attempt for an eight-yard gain. It is in that game Harrison says his knee injury was suffered.

Harrison’s final two seasons in a Maryland uniform saw injuries get in the way of keeping him on the field and a part of the offense. Harrison rushed for 633 yards in 2017 and 622 yards in 2018 before being held to just 84 yards in 2018 and 70 yards in 2019 in a combined total of five games the last two years.

Report: Graham Harrell expected to stay at USC after interviewing for NFL job

USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is expected to remain with the Trojans after interviewing with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
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USC head coach Clay Helton may not have to worry about finding a new offensive coordinator for the second striaght offseason. USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is expected to stay with the Trojans after interviewing for a job in the NFL, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (via Twitter).

It was reported last week the Philadelphia Eagles were set to interview Harrell about their vacancy at offensive coordinator. Whether the Eagles or Harrell decided the fit wasn’t right is unknown at this time, but it is good news for USC either way.

Last year, USC lost offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to a head coaching opportunity with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Kingsbury’s stay in USC was brief, as he took the job as an offensive coordinator after being let go as head coach at Texas Tech earlier in the offseason. USC replaced Kingsbury with the hiring of Harell from North Texas. Last month, USC locked in Harrell to a multi-year extension in hopes of keeping Harrell from accepting any other position with another program. Texas reportedly had been interested in adding Harrell to its coaching staff in Austin.

Southern Miss offensive coordinator leaves to join Georgia staff

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How big is the gap between the SEC and Conference USA? So big that Buster Faulkner would evidently rather be an analyst in the SEC than a coordinator in C-USA.

The Southern Miss offensive coordinator is leaving Hattiesburg to join Kirby Smart‘s staff in Athens. Smart has already hired former Todd Monken (ironically, a former Southern Miss head coach) to be his offensive coordinator, and there are no spots open on Georgia’s on-the-field staff. So, according to Dawgs247, Faulkner will join as an analyst.

While nothing has been announced, Faulkner on Monday confirmed his departure out of Hattiesburg.

“Thank you Coach Hop for allowing me to be a part of something special in Hattiesburg,” he tweeted. “I was able to work with some incredible men on this offensive staff! To the players-I love you guys, thanks for everything. I had a blast working with y’all. I wish you guys the best.”

A former Valdosta State quarterback when Smart was on the coaching staff, Faulkner spent just 2019 at Southern Miss after spending the previous three at Arkansas State. He helped the Golden Eagles fly from 109th to 48th in yards per play.

Kerry Coombs set to return to Ohio State

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Ohio State has an opening for a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach now that Jeff Hafley is Boston College’s head coach. And Ryan Day has found the perfect guy to fill that role — Ohio State’s old defensive backs coach.

Ever-popular assistant coach Kerry Coombs is set to return to Columbus as the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, according to multiple reports on Monday. (Letterman Row first reported the news.)

An original member of Urban Meyer‘s Ohio State staff, Coombs coached the Buckeyes’ defensive backs from 2012-17, a period that saw Ohio State rank among the top 13 nationally in pass efficiency defense four times, including 2017. Ohio State immediately slunk to 42nd in 2018, leading to Day’s hiring of Hafley. Ohio State immediately rocketed to first (they were second until LSU shredded Clemson last Monday), which led to Hafley’s hiring at BC and, now, Coombs’ return.

“I told the [defensive backs] last year at this time: ‘I am going to go get the best guy in the country.’ They didn’t know who Jeff Hafley was,” Day said last month. “Now they love him, they’re going to miss him. Going to do the same thing again next year, go get the best there is. You call around to different people that you respect. But usually the people you bring in are people that you know really well and you trust.”

Day spent the past two seasons as the defensive backs coach for the Tennessee Titans, and he’ll now return to a senior role he never would’ve gotten had he not left in the first place.