James Franklin would be Penn State's top target, Patriot-News reports

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

If Bill O'Brien leaves Penn State, James Franklin would reportedly be one of the Nittany Lions' top targets.

Penn Sate is compiling a list of candidates in case Bill O'Brien leaves for the NFL, and Vanderbilt's James Franklin is at the top of the list, according to David Jones of the Patriot-News.

While O'Brien has yet to leave, several reports indicate he is the No. 1 candidate in Houston, and a deal with the Texans could be reached as soon as Tuesday. If that is the case, the Nittany Lions could turn their attention to hiring Franklin away from the Commodores. Following a successful three-year run with Vanderbilt, Franklin is rumored to be a hot commodity, with his name linked to several major openings.

Franklin was born in Pennsylvania and played college football at East Stroudsburg University. His ties to the area could make him an even more attractive candidate for the Nittany Lions. According to Jones, PSU athletic director Dave Joyner has connections to Franklin through third parties who are "very impressed with him."

The Nittany Lions may not be the only team interested in Franklin, as he has also been mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Mack Brown at Texas. While Franklin may be at the top of Penn State's list of candidates, he's not the only coach rumored to be a candidate. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Nittany Lions are "ready to make a strong push" for Greg Schiano. Schiano was fired by Tampa Bay on Monday. Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak and Miami head coach Al Golden have also been mentioned as possible candidates.

Franklin has compiled a 23-15 record at Vanderbilt and is known for his engaging personality. He's done an excellent job recruiting at Vanderbilt, leading the Commodores out of the bottom of the SEC standings and to three straight bowl appearances. Vanderbilt will play in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday.

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