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Feb. 6, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin and the Penn State staff celebrated the signing of a top-25 recruiting class with the formal announcement of all 25 signees for 2014 in the Lasch Football Building and at `The Signature Event' in the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday.
"It was an exciting day for us, you know, the staff and the team has worked really, really hard at putting this class together, so today was really about celebrating the class and I thought we did a great job of that," said Franklin.
Braving several inches of snow, Franklin walked out of the hotel he is staying in at 5:38 a.m. ready for the signing day festivities to begin. The entire football staff was inside the Lasch 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 began to ring just after 7 a.m., and linebacker Jason Cabinda had the honor of sending the first approved national letter of intent. Special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff emerged from behind a blue curtain, walked to a podium in the Penn State war room and announced the signing of Cabinda to a rousing cheer from more than 60 staff members and supporters.
"With the first pick, from Flemington, New Jersey, linebacker, Jason Cabinda," Huff said at the podium in the front of the war room.
Coach Franklin placed Cabinda's bio magnet on the Penn State Signing Day "Big Board", and the celebration began on an exciting day for Nittany Lion football.
As the 20 faxed letters of intent were approved on Wednesday, each signee had his own announcement. The announcements often included the signees and their families, who called in via Skype or FaceTime and were then projected on a big screen to watch the festivities.
Franklin and the staff could not have been prouder to make the announcement of all 25 signees (including the five early enrollees already on campus).
"I know how hard this coaching staff has worked as well as the administrative staff and our players as well as hosts and things like that," Franklin said. "These coaches have not had a day off since June when we started camp, so today is a celebration of all the hard work they have put in."
Representatives from across campus and the football staff participated in the announcement process. Director of Athletics Dave Joyner, Michael Mauti, Brad "Spider" Caldwell, Steve Jones, the Blue Band, cheerleaders and Nittanyville were among those who made an appearance. The excitement surrounding the signing day festivities was infectious, and everyone in the room felt like a part of the football family.
The football staff put in a year's worth of recruiting work in a small window of time. Franklin was hired on Jan. 11, just 25 days before signing day. His staff was in place in the days following, and the group had no time to breathe as they worked to secure the signing class of 2014.
Moving at a torrid pace across the country with virtually no sleep, the staff secured a talented class ranked in the top 25 by Rivals, Scout, 247 Sports and ESPN. In the final week of recruiting, alone, Franklin visited New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Arizona, California, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Georgia. His travels through the topped 8,900 miles in the final six days coaches were permitted to travel under NCAA rules.
Wake up calls on the road are typically at or before 5 a.m., and bedtime is regularly at midnight or later.
That effort is what makes signing day so gratifying for the coaches, and it is why Franklin led a celebration on Wednesday morning in the Lasch Building and with the Penn State fans during the evening inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
The staff will receive a few days off to work on moving their families and belongings to State College before getting back to the grind on Monday.
The Blue-White Game is 65 days away.