Signing Day Central - Complete Bios, Photos, Highlights & More
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin and the Penn State staff celebrated the signing of a top-15 recruiting class with the formal announcement of all 25 signees for 2015 inside the Lasch Football Building and at 'The Signature Event' in Rec Hall on Wednesday.
"We have had a great day," said Franklin. "Really excited about how this whole thing played out. A lot of hard work went into it by the coaching staff, the administration, the support staff, our players. And I think really for the most part we did a nice job. So I'm really pleased. We have added depth, we have added talent, and I think we got really good fits. So I'm really proud."
Franklin walked into the Lasch Building at 6:08 a.m. ready for the signing day festivities to begin. The entire football staff congregated inside the building before 6:30 a.m. with an eye on the fax machine just outside the back door of Franklin's office.
The fax machine rang just after 7 a.m., and wide receiver Irvin Charles had the honor of sending the first approved national letter of intent. Signing day emcee Jevin Stone (video coordinator) emerged from behind a blue curtain, walked to a podium in the Penn State war room and introduced Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, who announced the signing of Charles to a rousing cheer from more than 75 staff members and supporters.
Charles's bio magnet was placed on the Penn State Signing Day "Big Board", with wide out Brandon Polk and tight end Nick Bowers following to begin the celebration on an exciting day for Nittany Lion football.
As the 22 letters of intent were approved on Wednesday, each signee had his own announcement. The announcements frequently included the signees and their families, who called in via FaceTime and were then projected on big screens inside the war room to watch the festivities.
Representatives from across campus and the football staff participated in the announcement process on Wednesday morning. The list included Penn State President Dr. Eric Barron, former Nittany Lion Wally Richardson, coaches Rob Cooper (baseball), Guy Gadowsky (men's hockey), Cael Sanderson (wrestling), Erica Walsh (women's soccer), Associate Athletic Director Rick Kaluza, legendary radio voice Fran Fisher, current radio voice Steve Jones, "Mike the Mailman", the Lionettes, Blue Band, cheerleaders, Nittanyville and THON representatives. The excitement surrounding the signing day festivities was infectious, and everyone in the room felt like a part of the football family.
Franklin and the staff could not have been prouder to make the announcement of all 25 signees (including the three early enrollees already on campus) in a stellar 2015 signing class rated among the nation's top 15.
Ranked as high as 12th by national recruiting outlets, the 2015 class features 16 signees ranked as a four-star prospect by at least one of the four major recruiting outlets. The class includes 22 signees from within a 350-mile radius of State College. Franklin and the staff set out to "Dominate the State" since the day they arrived, and the Nittany Lions did that emphatically with the 2015 class, signing 11 prospects from Pennsylvania (most from Pennsylvania since 10 in 2004). According to Scout, the Penn State class featured 10 out of the top 15 prospects out of Pennsylvania and seven out of the top 10. From 2011-'14, Penn State signed a cumulative total of four Pennsylvania top 10 prospects (Scout).
"We take great pride in the state of Pennsylvania, we take great pride in this region," Franklin said. "We have tremendous respect for the teachers in this state and the teachers in this region and in preparing our guys and getting them ready to come to Penn State and be successful academically. We take great pride in the high school coaches and the players in this state. We think we can be very, very successful with players from Pennsylvania and from this region. So I think that's very, very important for us moving forward."
The football staff put in a tremendous amount of effort to secure the class, seemingly since National Signing Day in February of 2014. Following a few days off, recruiting will continue almost immediately for next year's class. But for now, the Nittany Lions will celebrate the addition of 25 new members of the football family.
"You know, I think it's exciting, because there are so many things right now that are falling into place," Franklin said. "You look at the recruiting class, you look at the length and the athleticism and the size and the fit that we were able to, we were able to attract. You look at ending the season in a really dramatic bowl win in New York City in front of a basically a home crowd. You look at getting scholarships back. You look at being able to go to a bowl. You look at all the wonderful things that are going on here at Penn State."
One FaceTime call provided some comedic entertainment mid-way through the morning. While attempting to connect with defensive lineman Shareef Miller, Franklin suddenly became connected with Aleem Nedley, a lifelong Penn State fan, who was driving to work in Philadelphia. The phone numbers of Miller and Nedley were one digit apart, but it made Nedley's day when he realized who was on the other end of the FaceTime.
"'Coach, I think you have the wrong number, but this is awesome!'" Nedley said. "It's National Signing Day. Thanks for calling!"
The day culminated with the second-annual "Signature Event" in Rec Hall. Returning Nittany Lion starters signed autographs with fans before Franklin addressed the crowd about each member of the signing class while showing video highlights.
The Blue-White Game is 73 days away (April 18).
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