Penn State Football: James Franklin Can Make Recruiting Splash at Rutgers in '14

Tim TolleyContributor IFebruary 12, 2014

Nov 16, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores head coach James Franklin during the first half against the Kentucky Wildcats at Vanderbilt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

There are two things that go hand-in-hand with night games in college football: national television exposure and recruiting.

Speculation hit message boards this week that when Rutgers begins its Big Ten era in September hosting the Nittany Lions, it will do so at night.

Much like Penn State has done the last two years with home night games against Ohio State and Michigan, Rutgers would almost certainly look to capitalize by making this contest a marquee recruiting event. 

That could work in Penn State's favor.

Aside from the obvious benefits of getting to play on national television against a team from the New York City area at night, James Franklin could use such an opportunity to put his team on display to recruits.

Rutgers' main recruiting area is very similar to Penn State's and both target New Jersey a great deal. It's Rutgers' home state and it's a manageable distance from Happy Valley—the best college atmosphere in the Northeast. 

In 2014, Penn State landed four recruits from New Jersey while Rutgers pulled in seven in-state targets.

Prominent Penn Staters like Bill Belton, Gerald Hodges, Glenn Carson and Angelo Mangiro all hail from the Garden State and 2015 looks to be more of the same. Franklin and Co. have already offered six of the top prospects from New Jersey, according to 247Sports.

It's not unusual for a recruit to be enticed by a big game involving two of the teams he is considering when it comes to planning official visits. The opportunity to take in a marquee matchup while observing both teams up close is a perfect scenario.

Timing is also in Penn State's favor.

The Penn State-Rutgers game takes place on Sept. 13, while most teams in the country are still cutting their teeth on MAC teams and the like. There shouldn't be much competition when it comes to getting kids on campus that day for the Scarlet Knights.

Penn State Recruits From N.J.
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If Franklin can show up in New Jersey with a strong performance against Rutgers, in Week 3, on national television, in front of key recruits, it could have a huge impact on the 2014 recruiting cycle.

The Nittany Lions can capture the attention of many and use it as a platform going forward when scheduling official visits of their own. Penn State also has home games against Maryland and Michigan State, as well as the Ohio State game—which could be a night game at Beaver Stadium.