Penn State coach James Franklin said Friday that three of his assistant coaches had been contacted by other college football programs interested in filling a head coaching vacancy and added that that will heighten his efforts to keep his staff together.

Franklin did not identify the coaches, but a report on the Football Scoop website said offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead would have been Purdue's next choice to be head coach had former Western Kentucky head coach Jeff Brohm not accepted its offer.

"I'm hoping that we're going to be able to keep the staff together for as long as we can," Franklin said. "But they're talented guys and guys who are going to leave at some point for head coaching opportunities. We want that for them, but we want to try to keep the staff together for as long as we possibly can."

Franklin said he would do "everything in my power and our power here at Penn State" to retain his assistant coaches, adding that "we've done a lot of studies" on what programs are doing to compete at the major-college level.

"Then we're trying to put as many of those things in position as possible so we can capitalize on this momentum we have right now," he said.

Some NFL evaluations

Franklin said some of his underclassmen will be making decisions about the NFL in the coming weeks by submitting their names to the NFL college advisory committee for an evaluation about where they stand in the NFL draft.

He said that under new rules five players can put in for grades in the draft from the committee, which includes high-level personnel evaluators from NFL clubs and representatives of the two league-sanctioned scouting organizations, National Football Scouting and Blesto.

"The way they do it now is you're either a first-round guy, a second-round guy, or go back to school," Franklin said. "It used to be fourth through seventh [rounds] was the next category."

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg and defensive tackle Austin Johnson left last year after their junior seasons. This year, the best of the Nittany Lions juniors include wide receivers Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton, linebacker Jason Cabinda, and safety Marcus Allen.

Penn State also employs a company that works year-round talking with players about the draft process, Franklin said.

Out for the season

Offensive tackle Brendan Mahon, who was injured early in Penn State's win over Iowa on Nov. 5, was ruled out of the Rose Bowl by Franklin.

Franklin read the names of players who will miss the bowl game, and Mahon was on the list. The other players he mentioned already had season-ending injuries, including offensive tackles Andrew Nelson and Paris Palmer and linebacker Jake Cooper (Archbishop Wood) and Von Walker. Franklin did not disclose the nature of the injuries.

@joejulesinq