Even during championship week, Penn State keeps eyes on recruiting
December 2, 2016 12:00 AM
Post-Gazette file photo
Penn State coach James Franklin celebrates the announcement of four-star wide receiver during 2015 National Signing Day.
By Megan Ryan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Penn State safeties coach Tim Banks wants his players to balance the need to stop the run with the need to protect against the play-action pass. But he and the rest of the Nittany Lions coaching staff have their own juggling act this week.
While preparing for the Big Ten championship Saturday is the main focus, this time of year is important for recruiting.
“It’s a big challenge because, obviously, you’ve got to be able to take care of business with our own team and concentrate on trying to win this game, but you’ve also got to have the ability to look toward the future, work with some guys that we’re heavily involved with in terms of the recruiting process,” Banks said Thursday.
“It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s one that’s welcome, being in this situation, having the opportunity to play this late in the year. Has it been difficult? Yep. But definitely, we’ve enjoyed it.”
Banks said current players have pitched in on recruiting efforts, such as helping out on a few recent visits, even while preparing for a conference title game. Other than that, it’s mostly on the coaches to stay in contact with recruits — though the magic of television has also been a boon.
“Playing in the championship is the best possible recruiting that we can do,” Banks said. “Some of the young guys being able to see us consistently on TV has been great as well.”
The Nittany Lions recent success seems to have influenced at least one recruit. Fred Hansard, a four-star defensive tackle out of Hun School and Princeton, N.J., flipped his commitment Sunday from Florida to Penn State. The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder was the first class of 2017 commitment for Penn State since mid-August.
Despite space filling up in that class with 15 recruits, Banks said the coaching staff has been good about working together to pursue the right additions.
“I don’t feel like anybody has ulterior motives, and, ‘We have to sign my guy from my area or my position.’ What’s best for the program?” Banks said. “Coach [James] Franklin is very open. Our recruiting department is very open. We sit, and we talk about each and every position. Offensive guys listen about the defensive recruits. Defensive guys listen about the offensive recruits. We come up with a plan in terms of who we see, obviously, that we have, A, a great opportunity to get, and more importantly, do they fit exactly what we’re trying to get done? Do they fit the mold?
“We don’t talk as much about the numbers,” Banks said. “Obviously, we understand where we’re at. But nothing goes on in that program without us discussing it.”
Megan Ryan: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @theothermegryan.
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