The wave of momentum that Penn State's football program is riding out of spring camp can't be simply explained.
As the lots around Beaver Stadium began filling up at 9:00 a.m. ET, the buzz around Happy Valley was noticeably different than it has been the last couple years.
An announced attendance of 72,000 fans poured into the stadium and all but filled the lower bowl, cheering on their Nittany Lions through what was mostly a dud of a football game.
|Spring Game Attendance Numbers|
Head coach James Franklin had been asking for 80,000 fans to show up for the Blue-White game but didn't seem disappointed by coming up short.
Those loyal to the cause were kindly thanked just a few seconds into Franklin's postgame press conference:
I really appreciate everybody being here. Great crowd. Unbelievable support from this community, I'm not surprised one bit. I think it was announced 72,000...appreciative of that.
Franklin joked that he had someone take an actual count and there were "82,000," exceeding the threshold he asked for.
During that part of the press conference, he also acknowledged the recruits watching from above.
The Penn State media room has a second-story observation deck, for lack of a better term. After every game, visiting recruits watch the media room fill up to give them a sense of how big Penn State football is.
James Franklin to speak shortly; plenty of recruits/commits waiting to hear what he says, too. pic.twitter.com/Sqm5F44fOi— Josh Moyer (@ESPNJoshMoyer) April 12, 2014
James Franklin looked up at the group and nonchalantly asked, "What's up, guys?"
In fact, before the players even arrived at Beaver Stadium, Franklin received a verbal commitment from 4-star defensive tackle Adam McLean.
The Maryland native held offers from all over the country, including Florida State, Alabama and Ohio State.
Departed defensive line coach Larry Johnson was expected to be a factor in McLean's recruitment now that Johnson is at Ohio State, but that didn't seem to be the case.
McLean became the eighth 4-star commit in Penn State's current class—a class currently sitting at No. 1 in the country.
The momentum train is on a round course, and James Franklin appears to be the driver.
He's using recruiting to get the fans excited and is then using the fan support as a recruiting tool:
I think when you have '82,000' show up...they always do some statistics out there after spring ball and look at what everybody had as attendance at their games, I don't think there's any doubt that we're special. One of the big reasons we're special is because of the support that we get from the community. I was very impressed. Running in that stadium was an unbelievable emotional experience for me.
He didn't hesitate to admit that having a full house for games is a big tool for recruiting, pleading for "107,001" fans to show up at every home game.
From the looks of it, they're hooked and will do whatever he asks them to when it comes to helping. And if the cycle continues on, recruiting stands to benefit greatly from that relationship.
As one tailgater eloquently said this afternoon, "Can you guys believe we got James friggin' Franklin as our head coach?!"
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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