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How James Franklin's Penn State overcomes post-scandal recruiting challenges we didn't even know about

Welcome to The Crootletter (sign up to get this in your inbox every morning!). I'm Bud Elliott, SB Nation's National Recruiting Analyst, and in this space I'll be sharing news, rumors and musings on the world of college football recruiting.

Penn State staffers and mascots gather on National Signing Day
Penn State staffers and mascots gather on National Signing Day
Steven Godfrey

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Today I direct you to this excellent piece of reporting on Penn State, James Franklin and recruiting by my friend Steven Godfrey, who embedded with Penn State's staff for National Signing Day earlier this month. This story is extremely complicated, and Godfrey does a great job of unpacking it.

Did you know that Penn State's coaches cannot recruit solo until they pass an intense series of background checks that sometimes take months? The Nittany Lions replaced several coaches this offseason and were forced to recruit with another coach for weeks, limiting how many visits PSU could make.

There's also serious negative recruiting that still goes on from rivals. Every school deals with negative recruiting, but as you can imagine, the stuff said about Penn State is rather unique.

But the story isn't just about the things Franklin and his staff have to overcome, it's about how the staff is finding creative ways to overcome and make the culture your own. This is long and well worth your time.


The excellent Maryland site Testudo Times sat down for a lengthy interview with new coach DJ Durkin. I think the best part of this is when the reporter asked him about how to recruit in the Big Ten against Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, two former bosses of Durkin's.

I wonder if changes in college football rules, like increased emphasis on targeting, might cause coaches to recruit even more cornerback types at safety. Anecdotally, I've already seen a shift over the last few years, with big hitters at safety being recruited to play linebacker as teams face more and more spread offenses.

Texas has just one player at the NFL Combine. I expect that to change soon, because I believe Charlie Strong is a much better developer of talent than Mack Brown and his staff.

Which recruiting misses of yesteryear really hurt teams in 2015? Our team sites weigh in.

CHARTS: Florida State and Clemson absolutely dominated the ACC in signing top-100 recruits I absolutely loved the top of Clemson's class, while FSU might have signed the deepest class in the country. Miami may rejoin this group in 2017.

Stanford just signed one of the top classes in the Pac-12 and has no intentions of slowing down, as Sean Levy writes for Rule Of Tree.


If you're a recent signup or missed a day, that's OK. I link my previous Crootletters in this section.

I discussed how winning early in a head coaching tenure can hurt recruiting due to perception of trajectory.

2016's running back recruit crop was not very good. 2017's is very promising.

I ranked the Power 5 conferences by how many blue-chippers each signed per team.