What Franklin's departure means for recruiting
When it looked like the biggest news of the day would be James Franklin leaving College Park for Vanderbilt, I called on two area coaches and a recruiting analyst for their take on how the offensive coordinator's departure would affect Maryland's recruiting.
And then Terps athletic director Kevin Anderson was noncommittal about Ralph Friedgen's return in 2011 and other media outlets reported that a buyout was in the works, rendering much of that reporting moot.
Here's what I wrote about Franklin before the uncertainty about Friedgen's future came to light:
Rivals.com has listed Franklin as one of the country’s Top 25 recruiters for each of the past two years. In spite of the Terps’ recent on-field struggles — most notably the 2-10 campaign in 2009 — they managed to land recruiting classes ranked in the upper-half of the ACC. The 2011 recruiting class has 23 known commitments, including four that committed this week. Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell said that group could stay intact, but Franklin’s loss will be felt long term.
“I think it’s going to have a big impact,” Farrell said. “You may not see a whole bunch of kids deserting this year because it is late. There are going to be some guys targeted that are looking around a bit. … But he was the guy who was really the key for them for in-state recruiting. Remember, when he left for the NFL, things sort of fell apart in-state. That’s when Penn State started raiding [Maryland] and stealing all the guys. When he got back, obviously they did a better job in-state. I think moving forward, in-state recruiting efforts will suffer a bit. They’ve been telling kids, and truthfully so, ‘OK, this is going to be our new head coach down the line. When Ralph isn’t here, James is going to be.’ I think a lot of players’ parents like that sort of feeling. They’re comfortable with that feeling. If there’s one guy they didn’t want to lose, it was him. Period.”
Franklin quickly endeared himself to local high school coaches when he returned to College Park in December 2007 after spending 2005 as the Green Bay Packers’ wide receivers coach and the 2006 and 2007 seasons as Kansas State’s offensive coordinator. Franklin was charged with recruiting the state’s most talent-rich areas, including Baltimore and Prince George’s County.
“One thing he did, he went to every school in PG County,” Forestville coach Charles Harley said. “I’m not sure about other [areas in Maryland]. But he went to Central [High], which hasn’t had a Division I kid in a decade. He went to Fairmont Heights. He just went to every school, even if they didn’t traditionally have Division I kids. He still took his time to hit everything, and that goes a long way.”
Three of Harley’s former players — redshirt freshman offensive lineman De’Onte Arnett, sophomore tight end Devonte Campbell and sophomore wide receiver Kevin Dorsey — are on scholarship at Maryland, while another Forestville player will be a preferred walk-on next fall and a former Knights team manager also works with the Terps’ football program. Harley appreciated Franklin’s honesty, and said Maryland would be wise to find a “finisher” to replace him on staff.
“Maryland’s been good to me with Coach Franklin and hopefully will be going forward,” Harley said. “Coach Franklin was so good because he’s young and energetic and he relates to the kids. That goes a long way, not just locally but everywhere.”
Milford Mill coach Reggie White has a relationship with Friedgen dating back to the early 1990s, when he was a rookie defensive tackle with the San Diego Chargers and the Terps coach was an offensive assistant. Over the past several years, White said he forged a strong bond with Franklin as well.
Former Milford Mill wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro — who’s finishing a post-grad year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia — has committed to Maryland. Cheeseboro has limited cell phone access at the military school, and White hadn't spoken to him about Franklin taking the Vanderbilt job. But the Millers coach did say that his former star wide receiver picked the Terps for more than just Franklin.
“I know [Cheeseboro] not only fell in love with Franklin, but he fell in love with the university and the rest of the coaching staff,” White said. “They have a strong coaching staff now. Maybe one or two [recruits] jump ship, but I think the word on the street is that Maryland wants Maryland kids to stay home, and they’re going to do what they need to do to get them.”
One final blog-related note for the night. I had planned on attending the Maryland Crab Bowl at Bowie State and blogging on the game, but this Friedgen story will keep me in the office Saturday instead. Check back with baltimoresun.com for Todd Karpovich's game story on the event.