Penn State coach James Franklin pivoted quickly to recruiting Sunday, heading on the road for the stretch run to the early signing period that begins Dec. 15.
Franklin's prime objective: making sure everyone in his highly ranked 2022 recruiting class signs their Letters of Intent.
"The priority for us is keeping the '22 class intact with the guys who are doing what they need to do to come to Penn State," Franklin said recently.
Franklin kicked off the week with a trip to Florida to visit 2022 commit Zane Durant, a four-star defensive lineman. Joining him were assistants Joe Lorig, John Scott Jr. (Durant's position coach), Ja'Juan Seider and Terry Smith.
Penn State (7-5) concluded its regular season with a 30-27 loss to Michigan State last Saturday in East Lansing. The Lions went 2-5 after a 5-0 start, finished with a sub-.500 Big Ten record (4-5) for the second consecutive year and missed an opportunity in 2021.
Recruiting, however, affords no time for reflection. The NCAA's "contact period" resumed Sunday, as college coaches have two weeks to visit recruits at their homes and schools. Prospects can visit campuses Sunday, Dec. 12 before the "dead period" takes effect Dec. 13.
Penn State has 25 players committed to the 2021 class, which was third in SI All-American's most recent national rankings. Franklin made a huge recruiting announcement Nov. 23, agreeing to a new 10-year contract with Penn State.
He told recruits about the contract the week prior, and none had expressed any reservations publicly regarding Franklin's future.
"I know he doesn't want to be anywhere else besides Penn State," 2022 quarterback Drew Allar told SI All-American's John Garcia, Jr. recently. "I don't look too much into it because I've talked to him, not about the rumors, but just in previous conversations with him, I can tell the type of person he is and how much time and effort he has put into Penn State."
Franklin said Penn State's 2022 class could see "a little bit of movement," meaning that the staff might consider adding a player or two. But Franklin also said that he wants to leave some flexibility for possible transfers.
"Our focus is keeping the '22 class intact, and those guys have a really strong relationship not only with each other but also with our staff and their parents," Franklin said. "And then obviously doing a great job on the '23 class. We've got a pretty good start on that already and we're going to need to continue building this."
Penn State has received four commitments for the 2023 class, most recently from Pennsylvania tight end Joey Schlaffer.
"I think it's obviously a major focus for us to continue to recruit at a high level," Franklin said. "We've had some really good recruiting classes, but we need to be able to stack them up one after another."
Following Saturday's loss to Michigan State, Franklin also said he expects to meet with players about their future intentions. Penn State recognized more than 30 players on Senior Day against Rutgers, and many of them can return for another season under the NCAA's COVID eligibility changes.
The Lions also will be discussing bowl options — regarding not just destinations but player participation as well. Penn State largely has avoided the bowl opt-out trend, though members of this year's senior class could make different decisions.
Penn State's bowl invitation likely will be announced Dec. 5.