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With the Penn State “White Out” comes scores of high school recruits

The annual game brings out high school recruits from all over, and it's James Franklin's job to welcome the visitors while keeping the focus on his team and the game.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford passes in the first half against Michigan on Saturday night.
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford passes in the first half against Michigan on Saturday night.Read moreGene J. Puskar / AP

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The Penn State “White Out” brings national attention, excitement, and electricity to Beaver Stadium.

It also brings high school recruits. Lots and lots of high school recruits.

So, if coach James Franklin didn’t have enough on his plate trying to get his seventh-ranked Nittany Lions prepared and focused Saturday night for a difficult opponent in No. 16 Michigan, he also had to make some time for an undisclosed number of official visitors and “probably 150 unofficial visitors,” plus their families, in addition to 150 high school coaches, he said.

“We’ve gotten better, but it is a nightmare,” Franklin said Wednesday night at his weekly availability. “I know there’s a lot of conversation that recruiting staffs have gotten too big – I’ve made this point before – but I don’t know how you do it.

“We have a game like this … that we need to make sure our focus is on the coaches and players. We’ve got official visitors coming in, that we’ve got to make sure they have a great experience, a first-class experience. We’ve got a bunch of unofficial visitors coming in. You’re talking a very large number, and you’ve got to do all those things at the same time. So, it is a challenge.”

Franklin, who spent time shaking hands with some recruits at midfield during pregame warmups, said there was a waiting list for Saturday night, and he had to turn away people.

“It’s a major, major operation,” he said. “But we’ve got a great staff that handles all those things. The other thing that helps us is we’ve got a stadium that supports it. So, all those things are helpful.”

“White Out” makes immediate impact

The “White Out” took its toll almost immediately on Michigan.

Lined up for the game’s first play from scrimmage at their own 25, on the same side of the stadium as the Penn State student section, the Wolverines had to call timeout before the snap. They were also called for a false-start penalty on their second possession.

Welcome to Gattis

Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis returned to Beaver Stadium, where he coached for four seasons as wide receivers coach on Franklin’s staff.

“Very happy for him professionally, very happy for him personally,” Franklin said. “Obviously a great opportunity to go be the offensive coordinator at the University of Michigan. Everybody knows we were together for a long time.

“Josh was with me at Vanderbilt for two years and then here at Penn State and did a fantastic job. I want to thank Josh for the job that he did when we were together, and again, very, very happy for him and his family.”

Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Brent Pry also coached with Gattis at Vanderbilt and Penn State.

“Josh and I are pretty good buddies, and his wife and my wife are friends,” Pry said. “What we went through together at Vanderbilt and the first part of our time here at Penn State, there’s always a bond there when you coach with a guy, particularly when you go through some of the things that we went through, the challenges and the successes.”