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February 3, 2016
Q: What was it like near the end recruiting Miles Sanders? What were some specific challenges you faced?
JG: Everyone faces challenges, but it was exciting getting his letter of intent in and obviously seeing how he was committed to us for so long. He is a very talented player and when you're recruiting players of his caliber, you know everyone else is going to try to recruit those guys as well. We definitely faced some challenges and there's been a lot of negative publicity out there, but we just had to overcome it. The kids see the truth in the program and the truth in the coaches and they make the best decisions for themselves. We're excited to have Miles (Sanders) become a part of our program.
Q: How much do you think the way the season ended, a four-game losing streak, impacted the recruiting process especially towards the end?
JG: I don't think it impacted recruiting at all because the kids were able to see the direction that this program is headed. Now it may have impacted the spin on how people looked at it, but it didn't impact recruiting. I think people associated with our program know that our best days are ahead. We have a lot of young and talented players that are going to contribute for us, as well as welcoming in some of those players who redshirted last year. They see the direction that we are headed in and they're excited for the future, which is the key to assembling a top-20 recruiting class.
Q: How do you address situations involving negative recruiting?
JG: You hear it and you tell people the truth. You have to address those rumors and those issues and you tell them the truth about your program. Hopefully they're able to see that and unfortunately it happens in college football, but it is what it is. We have a great product to sell and ultimately, no matter how much negative recruiting is happening, we have way too many positives about Penn State football.
Q: What did you want Miles (Sanders) and Saquon (Barkley) to know about each other? Did you get them together at all?
JG: I wouldn't just say those two guys because we want everyone on our team to be welcomed in by our current players. We want our recruits to understand the kind of program that they are going to be coming into. Developing relationships is very key, and when these kids come in on their official visits, it's more of a celebrating weekend where they enjoy time with their family that they have here in our current players. Our current players do an awesome job in really sacrificing a lot and making an effort to really get to know the recruits and hosting them over their official visits. From there, they build their own individual relationships, but we're excited about Miles (Sanders) and he's going to have to come in and work hard just like every kid that we signed. We believe that he has a bright future here at Penn State.
Q: How much of an eye do you keep on other Big Ten East schools in terms of their recruiting?
JG: Really all we have to do is scroll through our Twitter feeds. Through Twitter we can see anything and everything that someone is doing, but we do keep tabs on what other schools are doing. Mostly we have to keep the focus on us, and what we're doing internally. We focus on assembling the best signing class that we can for Penn State and everyone's needs are different. Some teams may need a certain number in a position group, but we focus on us because the only thing that we can control is the guys that we bring into our program to address our needs.
Q: Can you give us some specific shortcuts that coach Franklin mentioned Penn State as a program wants to avoid?
JG: Shortcuts are just taking the wrong kinds of kids to try and find instant gratification. Whether through transfers or other means, we believe in building a program the right way. We want a program built to withstand and have success for the long-term and sometimes that does require red-shirting kids. You see some programs that will play kids as true freshman and all they do is run down on kickoffs. That doesn't do the program any good and while it may have helped for that one year on special teams, it doesn't do any good burning that kid's redshirt for that amount of playing time. That's what we talk about when we discuss trying to build the right way. We easily could have played 10 or 12 more freshman last year and found the depth that we wanted. However, we felt that in the best interest of not only Penn State, but also for those individuals was for us to redshirt them. We're now going to be able to see a return on those kids and those investments later on down the road.
Q: When you talked to Michal Menet, was it discussed about him enrolling early at all? What impact did his commitment have on this class?
JG: Michal (Menet) made the decision to enroll early as we leave that decision entirely up to the kids themselves. We can't be more excited about Menet and he has been a very important piece to his class. Not only just himself, but his entire family as well. One of the things that you are going to see out of this class is that the families are Penn State families. A lot of these kids take a tremendous amount of pride in playing for Penn State and so do their parents. Michal's dad is very active on Twitter and he's one of our biggest supporters. He is a big piece in putting together this recruiting class along with Shane Simmons' mother as well. When you're able to get families like that to take a lot of pride in what they're building and the people they're bringing in, that speaks volume. We can't be more excited about Michal because obviously he is a very talented player on the field, but he's even more talented off of the field in the person that he is.
Q: How have the last couple of weeks been like with all of the flipping that has been going on?
JG: It's been very stressful, but it is the game of college football. You're starting to see it more and more and at a place like Penn State maybe it hasn't happened quite so much in the past, but you're seeing it happen all across the country. Recruiting never stops and a kid is never truly yours until signing day and that letter of intent comes in. You just have to continue to face those battles, but we've been fortunate enough to assemble a great class based off of the relationships we've been able to have and we come out feeling very successful in what we were able to do.