STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Here are some of the key points that Penn State football coach James Franklin made during Friday’s press conference previewing the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl game in Orlando against Kentucky.
On whether he expects everybody to play in the game:
Right now we’re planning on having everybody for the game. Again, that changes. I think sometimes I’ll meet with you guys and tell you something, then a few days later it’s different. It’s not that we weren’t up front with you guys and transparent, it changes. It changes weekly, it changes daily. You have the academic component that factors into this. You have the financial component that factors into this. You have the family situation that factors into this, as well.
What I always try to tell our guys is, why would you ever declare early in the process? Say you’re a kicker, I’ll use that as an example, I don’t know if (punter) Blake (Gillikin) is coming out early. (Gillikin said on Friday he is returning to Penn State next year) But say you’re a kicker, and you decide to come out early. You make that decision after the last game. Then between then and the draft, 15 other juniors come out early. Why would you make that decision?You want to have as much information as you possibly can to make a great decision. The later you can do that, the better.=
On facing linebacker Josh Allen, Kentucky’s 6-foot-5, 260-pound consensus all-American who has won several national awards and was the SEC defensive player of the year:
First of all, I was following him on Twitter and sending him a bunch of direct messages, like, Hey, you may want to save yourself for the draft. But obviously that didn’t work. Yeah, I think the biggest thing is his length and his athleticism and how twitchy he is.
Obviously, when you’re considered the best defensive player in college football, the way he’s been able to impact the game in so many different ways, that’s probably what’s been so impressive. How twitchy he is, how productive he is, his length. In terms of what those guys are looking for next level, he kind of fits the model...
On whether he has sat down with any juniors who might be thinking of entering the draft:
Yeah, so obviously it’s a fluid conversation that’s constantly evolving and changing. Just so you guys know, I don’t know if I mentioned this before or not, literally the Sunday after our last regular season game, I met with all of them. We tried to schedule ahead of time with their parents because they were in town for the game, so they could stay over, we could meet the next morning, their position coach and myself, then we had put together basically a whole presentation.
To me, it’s not about convincing them to stay, it’s let me give you all the information that I can get based on my resources and contacts so that you can make an educated decision, make a great decision.Where I think people struggle sometimes is they think the coach is always going to tell the guy to come back. I told Saquon Barkley a year before his last season that he needs to leave. Obviously at the end of the season, it was a pretty easy decision. But I told him a year before.
So for us, where I think people kind of get confused there, is it really should be a very complementary process in decision making. What I mean by that is if the guy leaves early, and he’s a first or second round draft choice, that’s good for him and his family. That’s also good for Penn State football. If he leaves early, and gets drafted very late or not drafted at all, that’s bad for him and his family, and that’s bad for Penn State football. We’re really working together here...
On whether he expects to keep his staff intact:
Yeah, I’d like to keep our staff intact as long as possible. I think consistency is important. But I also understand that we’re at a point in our profession and in this game where that’s challenging. I think it’s critical for us to try to do everything we possibly can to create an environment here that’s competitive but also an environment here where guys want to come to work, feel good about it, their families do as well.
But there’s also going to be opportunities that come that I want for our guys. I think you guys have heard me say this before. I think guys have a chance to be head coaches, and guys have a chance to be play- calling coordinators, very specifically play-calling coordinators, I want that for them.
But we can’t lose guys for lateral moves. That cannot happen with the type of program that we have and for the type of program we want to be. That’s critical. Again, just like the players that we’re talking about, it’s fluid. I get phone calls every day. I’m in the car recruiting, coaching our players, checking on academics, all those type of things, I’m constantly getting calls about our current staff. I’m constantly getting calls about coaches that have worked for me in the past, things like that. It’s constantly something we need to be aware of.