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Devy Paradise: Penn State Nittany Lions

The Devy Paradise series continues on this time making a stop in Happy Valley, @MandrewH_ looks at James Franklin’s track record of NFL skill talent development.

It’s funny to think that Penn State head coach came James Franklin came from Vanderbilt. He was the last coach to succeed at the academically focused university, and since he left, he has built Penn State back up.

Many people, myself included, did not think Penn State would return to its winning ways for some time. Bill O’Brien kickstarted things, but Franklin took the baton and ran with it. The best part? The former East Stroudsburg quarterback turned the Penn State offense around.

While he has yet to turn out any special talent at QB, Franklin has done so at all the other skill positions. The way he turns players from promising recruits to high-potential NFL players is something special. He doesn’t have the same luxuries as Alabama or Texas A&M, but what he does is coach and develop. 

Franklin has turned Penn State into a devy paradise by following some simple steps.

Recruiting Trails Established

You obviously will have an easier life as a head coach in college football when you can recruit well. While Franklin has shown he can recruit with the rest of the Big Ten, he has yet to get those top-end recruits in bulk. Over the years, he has gotten 5-star skill players like Saquon Barkley, Justin Shorter, and most recently Nick Singleton

Over his seven years at Penn State, he has established an average recruiting class rank of 16. His most recent class was highlighted by QB Drew Allar and Singleton, as mentioned above. If his staff can continue the development of Allar, who has all the traits you look for, he could be special. 

Both Allar and Singleton can and should be the faces of the offense in the future. If they are, look for Penn State to be in the mix for more top-end skill talent.

Producing NFL Talent

While Franklin and his Penn State staff haven’t gotten the usual top-end talent out of high school, he has developed pro talent. He hasn’t produced a top-end QB like his recruiting talent yet. However, he has developed every other skill position. 

Barkley is his crown jewel and highest-drafted player, but he has produced much more. Pat Freiermuth, K.J. Hamler, and Miles Sanders are also on his resume. This year he has more players who should be drafted to add to his growing list of NFL talent. TE Theo Johnson and WR Parker Washington should be in the NFL sooner rather than later.

Just Tapping Into the Transfer Portal

Most coaches, especially in the SEC and Pac-12, have taken full advantage of the transfer portal. However, Franklin and his staff have never been too keen on using it. However, this year they brought in Manny Diaz after he was fired from Miami, and he is a fan. Penn State has only brought in two players on offense, but one is worth remembering. 

Mitchell Tinsley has a similar size and playstyle to Jahan Dotson, who just left. Tinsley opposite Parker Washington should help both men face single coverage and develop better. One position has been a constant for the Nittany Lions from an NFL perspective, and that is the receiver. That trend should continue its current course.

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