Penn State and James Franklin Are Making Recruiting Waves in Michigan
Recruiting is a tricky game. Some universities pride themselves on building their rosters with hometown talent. There are advantages and disadvantages to taking that approach. The better teams in the country can recruit their home state as well as invading others.
Oddly enough, Penn State has a long way to establish dominance in Pennsylvania as they only have 2 commitments from the top 25 prospects, but they are taking ownership in the state of Michigan.
PSU Head Football Coach James Franklin in the state up north is becoming what Omar Devon Little was on the hit television show The Wire.
When Omar would walk through the streets of Baltimore, he wreaked fear into everyone on the streets. Chaos would ensue because of his arrival. Omar was a man of few words, but when he showed his face, he made a commanding presence.
The same can be said for Franklin in a sense. As his plane arrives in Michigan, whether if its Detroit, Muskegon, Flint, Grand Rapids, or Lansing, the notion of “Omar is coming” is real.
In the past six months, Franklin has secured commitments from Jaylen Reed, Kalen, and Kobe King, and most recently Jamar Buddin who all hail from Detroit, Michigan. To no surprise, the Nittany Lions Staff are recruiting several other top-ranked kids in the area as well.
What do Bryce Mostella, Enzo Jennings, Lance Dixon, Donovan Johnson, and K.J. Hamler have in common? They are also Michigan natives that were pried away from their home state to play for Penn State. Although he is not from Michigan, Penn State freshman tight end Theo Johnson, who is from Ontario, Canada, is a twenty-minute ride from Detroit also chose Penn State.
How can Franklin and Penn State invade Michigan at the rate that they are?
This is a tricky question, but a lot of it has to do with relationships and taking players that may not fit the mold of other programs.
In an interview on the Notorious B1G Recruiting Podcast hosted by 24/7 Sports Allen Trieu. K.J. Hamler’s Mother stated that ” I think the biggest reason why he chose not to go to Michigan was just thinking that he wasn’t going to fit in with their whole program. She further stated that they were into bigger receivers.”
She also went on to say that then WR coach at Penn State Josh Gattis and James Franklin were heavily invested in Hamler at IMG, even after tearing his ACL. That is a testament to the relationships that Franklin and his staff build with their recruits no matter the circumstances.
It also helps that Franklin has an excellent staff, which includes Co-Defensive Coordinator Tim Banks as the area recruiter in Michigan. Banks, a Detroit, Michigan native played at Detroit Martin Luther King High School and he played his college ball at Central Michigan. Banks also has great relationships with such as Sound Mind Sound Body and Rising Stars, two programs where the top players in the state train and play 7-on-7 football travel ball for.
Numbers can be skewed, but to no surprise, they still favor Michigan and Michigan State when it comes to recruiting the top players in the state. While that is the case, there is no ignoring what the Nittany Lions are doing on the recruiting trail. Just ask former UM All-American and former Cass Tech Alum Jourdan Lewis. Who tweeted after Penn State received commitments from three Detroit kids (Reed, King, and King).
Lewis’ tweet is an indication of how things have felt in the recruiting world for the Wolverines for quite some time.
While it may be true that those kids were not high on Michigan’s radar, but Mel Tucker and Jim Harbaugh must do a better job of protecting the state. Tucker gets a pass because he is fresh on the job, but all eyes will be on him and his staff as they try to sway highly touted 2021 wide receiver Andrel Anthony to stay home in East Lansing.
Many would believe that Ohio State owns Michigan in recruiting, but Ryan Day & Co. recruits on a national level against schools like Georgia, Clemson, and Alabama. While Day and area recruiter Coach Studwra will pluck a few good players from Michigan, it is rare for them to solely try to battle with MSU and Michigan in recruiting just as John Cooper and Jim Tressel did decades ago.
While Penn State does not have ownership of the state of Michigan in a football realm like Ohio State does, they are gaining grown on them in recruiting. It will only be a matter of time where they will take that dominance to the gridiron as well.
For MSU and Michigan, two slogans are commonly stated are: “The best in the state goes to State” and “Those who stay will become champions.”
Although those two statements are popular, it’s a stretch to call them true. Michigan State has been ranked near or at the bottom of recruiting in the conference since having one of their best classes in school history in 2015.
For the Wolverines, they have not been a true Big Ten Power since Carson Daly was hosting TRL on MTV. While they did have some success in the early 2000s winning the Big Ten titles in 2000, 2003, and 2004, but since then they have not had much success under previous head man Brady Hoke and now Jim Harbaugh.
Gretchen ‘Big Gretch’ Whitmer is the Governor in Michigan, but James Franklin would like to have a word with her if continues his recruiting dominance in the mitten.