PSU’s Franklin a psycho ready to bring the community back together

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The community surrounding Penn State football continues to be a divided one, to an extent. It is a community still largely searching for answers and truth from the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and you can still find factions demanding for the return of a statue of Joe Paterno and others demanding for complete changes on the board of trustees and so on, some with honestly good intentions and others perhaps lacking priorities. This week former assistant football coaches Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney have filed a new lawsuit against the university regarding the termination of their employment. Two years have now passed since Sandusky’s crimes were handled in the court of law, and the community is starting to return to whatever normal will be.

Looking to steer the ship in the right direction is new head coach James Franklin, who has sparked the program with a new sense of life and motivation, continuing the momentum few thought could be generated under Bill O’Brien and looking to lead the Penn State program through the end of the sanction period. In a one-on-one interview, Franklin explains why he feels he is ready to tackle such a journey.

“I’m so emotional. I’m so passionate. I’m kind of a psycho,” Franklin told The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Joe Juliano. “So, I think a lot of people think, ‘This guy, is he for real?’ ”

In his short time at Penn State, after leaving Vanderbilt, Franklin has put together one of the top recruiting classes for 2015 and has won over a fan base by digging into his Pennsylvania roots and declaring a territorial war over the Keystone State as well as the recruiting fertile grounds of New Jersey and Maryland, now considered Big Ten territory. On a spring bus tour of the state and region, Franklin left quite the impression on Penn State fans, and it seems his messages are being received well. Franklin understands the value of Penn State football to the community in State College and throughout the state, and he wants to use that as the resource that continues to heal the fractured community.

More from Franklin, via The Philadelphia Inquirer;

“I believe that football has the ability to bring a community together like nothing else,” he said. “I know I’m biased, I’m a football coach. But I believe football has that special ability.

“Saturday afternoons, people come together to be a part of something bigger than just themselves,” the former Vanderbilt coach said. “So, I think we can hold a special role in that, and I think it’s time.

“The thing that’s always made Penn State special is that we’re family and people are very proud of being a part of this university. And I think it’s time for us to get back to that, get back to being a family. The way I look at it is, let’s put the university first and, more importantly, let’s put the kids first.”

There is something to be said about how the football program could end up being what brings the Penn State community back together, given the national pundits that suggested it be shut down after being perceived as an enabling device for Sandusky and his sick crimes against children. But as with any organization, if the leadership in place has the right frame of mind and has a plan of attack, there should be little stopping it from reaching the finish line.

Is Franklin the leader Penn State’s football program needed? That seems to be the theme of the offseason in State College.

You can read the full one-on-one interview and story with Franklin via The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Les Koenning is Les Miles’ second OC hire at Kansas

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For the second time this offseason, a Koenning has been added to a new Power Five coaching staff.  And, for the second time since taking over in Lawrence two months ago, Les Miles has hired an offensive coordinator.

Jan. 10, Troy announced that Chip Lindsey, hired by Miles as Kansas’ offensive coordinator the month before, would take over as the Sun Belt program’s head football coach and replace Neal Brown, who left to take the head job at West Virginia.  Two weeks after Lindsay’s departure, KU confirmed Tuesday that Les Koenning will take over for Lindsey as the Jayhawks’ coordinator.

Koenning, whose cousin, Vic Koenning, was named as WVU’s defensive coordinator by Brown earlier this month, spent the 2018 season as the running backs coach at Southern Miss.

“We are so excited to add an offensive coordinator with the experience of Les Koenning,” said Miles in a statement. “He has proven to be an innovative offensive mind who has great success recruiting and developing offensive skill players, particularly at the quarterback position.”

Koenning has served as the coordinator at six stops at the FBS level — UAB (2016-17), Mississippi State (2009-13), Texas A&M (2003-07), Alabama (2001-02), Houston (1999) and Duke (1998).

QB Nick Starkel taking a grad transfer out of Texas A&M

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You can add yet another name to the burgeoning free-agent quarterback pool.

Tuesday night, Nick Starkel used a tweet to announce that he has decided to transfer from Texas A&M and “will explore finishing my final two years of eligibility at another program.” Starkel will graduate from A&M this June, which would make him eligible to use the first of those two years of eligibility immediately in 2019.

Starkel was the Aggies’ starter to open the 2017 season, but suffered a broken ankle in that game that sidelined him for nearly two months.  It turned out to not be a season-ending injury as Starkel returned to start the last four games of Kevin Sumlin‘s final season in College Station, a late-season stint that included a career-high 499-yard effort in a Belk Bowl loss to Wake Forest.

Entering the 2018 offseason as the incumbent, but with a new head coach in Jimbo Fisher in place, Starkel lost the starting job to Kellen Mond and played in just five games this past season — the first four of 2018 plus the bowl game.  In those appearances, the redshirt sophomore completed 15-of-22 passes for a touchdown.

The A&M portion of his playing career will end with the Texas native having totaled 1,962 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions on 138–of-227 passing.

Deion Sanders’ son, a three-star 2019 recruit, commits to South Carolina

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Barring a change of heart in the next couple of weeks, there won’t be a Primetime legacy in Tallahassee this coming season.

In October of last year, Shilo Sanders, the son of former Florida State great and College Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, received a scholarship offer from his father’s alma mater.  three months later, the elder Sanders, a 2019 prospect, announced via video that he has committed to playing his college football at South Carolina.

The defensive back’s decision to commit to the Gamecocks came not long after a second visit to Columbia.

While holding an offer from FSU, Sanders chose USC over a group of schools that included Colorado State, Nebraska and Tennessee.  He was also offered by, among others, Georgia, Oregon, Oregon State and UCF.

CSU was the only other school to which he took an official visit.

The elder Sanders is the offensive coordinator at his son Shilo’s school, Cedar Hill (Tex.) Trinity Christian High School.  Shilo’s younger brother, 2021 prospect Shedeur Sanders, is a wide receiver at the school as well.

Shilo Sanders is rated as a three-star recruit on 247Sports.com’s composite board for the 2019 cycle.

Mississippi State officially adds UConn RBs coach

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Not long after losing a position coach to an SEC West rival, Joe Moorhead turned to an area of the country familiar to him to fill his Mississippi State staff void.

Tuesday, MSU announced that Terry Richardson has been hired by Moorhead to serve as the Bulldogs’ running backs coach.  Additionally, Richardson will hold the title of assistant head coach.

Richardson will replace Charles Huff, who’s expected to move on to a job on Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff.  That move has yet to be confirmed by the Crimson Tide.

“Terry has coached running backs for nearly 20 years at both the college and NFL levels,” Moorhead said in a statement. “He has a firm grasp of our offense and will maximize the potential we have in our running backs room. Having played and coached in the NFL, he understands what it takes to develop players for the next level. Terry is also a dynamic recruiter with proven experience in the South, especially in the state of Florida. We are excited to welcome someone of Terry’s caliber to the Mississippi State family.”

The past two seasons, Richardson was the running backs coach at UConn.  He’s also spent time in that position on staffs at Maryland (2015), Miami (2011-12) and again at UConn (1999-2010).  During that first stint with the Huskies, Moorhead was that team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

From 2013-14, he was the running backs for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

“This is a great opportunity to work with great people at an outstanding university in the best conference in America,” Richardson said. “I am excited to reconnect with Coach Moorhead and work with him again. He is a tremendous football coach and an even better person. We will be well-versed on all five phases of running back play, and our group will maximize our opportunities to make a major impact in winning football games.”