It's no secret anymore that James Franklin has been doing a tremendous job of recruiting at Penn State since his arrival in January.
After securing several recruits down the stretch for the 2014 class, many of whom had never even been to Happy Valley, he is off to a lightning-fast start on the 2015 class; it's a class that ranks in the top five nationally, according to 247Sports.
While Bill O'Brien was forced to utilize his scarce scholarships on versatile athletes who could fill multiple roles, if needed, Franklin has a little more wiggle room and has put a priority on something slightly different than versatility: speed.
Perhaps the first time it became evident was when Franklin and his staff took a February commitment from Jarvis Miller, a little known safety prospect out of Connecticut.
As far as star ratings go, Miller remains the lowest-rated prospect in the current class, as a 3-star recruit who wasn't even recognized by all of the recruiting services until after his commitment.
Many fans were slightly surprised that the Nittany Lions didn't view Miller as a "Plan B" prospect who could be brought along slowly until other recruits were off the board.
What many of them didn't realize was that Miller had recently clocked a 4.64 40-yard dash at a Nike SPARQ combine, where he placed third overall in total SPARQ score, according to Sean Fitz of 247Sports.
In a world where players often claim faster times than they can run, Miller's laser-clocked 40 time would have been good enough to tie him for 12th among safeties at this year's NFL combine, according to NFL.com.
While the recruiting services were busy catching up, Franklin identified the speed and the athleticism he covets and pursued his guy.
The other safety Penn State is recruiting the hardest for this class, Ayron Monroe, placed first at that same Nike combine and ran a 4.35 40-yard dash.
Franklin's need for speed didn't just start with the 2015 class, though.
While DeAndre Thompkins was originally committed to O'Brien and his staff, Franklin placed a high priority on keeping the speedy athlete in the fold. Once successful, Thompkins enrolled early and immediately became the fastest player on the team, according to the head coach himself, via Josh Moyer of ESPN.com.
From here on out, Thompkins will have to work at keeping his crown. Joining him this summer will be California athlete Koa Farmer, who recently made waves of his own, running a 21.73 200-meter sprint en route to winning the Mt. SAC Invitational.
I just won MT.SAC INVITATIONAL 200 seeded !!!! #21.73 🙌
— KOA (@KOAFARMER) April 20, 2014
Seemingly every skill player in the 2014 class has speed worth bragging about.
Troy Apke, the lowest-rated of the four receivers coming in, took the 100-meter title at the Tri-State Invitational held at West Mifflin High School with a time of 11.35 seconds, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Last April, 210-pound wideout Saeed Blacknall recorded times of 11.06 for 100 meters and 22.72 for 200 meters, per Josh Newman of USA Today High School Sports.
If Franklin has his way, the speed epidemic won't stop anytime soon.
Along with Miller, wide receiver commit Juwan Johnson recorded a 10.98 100-meter time and a 21.89 200-meter time, which were good enough to win the Group 1 State Championship, according to Rich Bevensee of NJ.com.
Amazing woodbury relays this season two golds I can't complain 🏆🏆 http://t.co/9NNdXy5j5i— Juwan Johnson (@TD4johnson) April 21, 2014
Thompkins will be challenged several times in the near future for the crown of fastest Nittany Lion, but 2015 receiver commit Brandon Polk may have the best shot of the bunch.
Per Dustin Hockensmith of PennLive, Polk recorded a 4.36 40-yard dash at an Army All-American combine and was the 2013 Virginia Group AA state champion in the 100 and 200 meters last spring.
It's clear that Franklin understands how speed can impact the college game. He's put a premium on fast players and has begun stockpiling them.
The new staff doesn't lack confidence in its coaching ability, but it is fully aware that you cannot teach speed.
If things continue down this path, it won't even have to try.
Recruit rankings via 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
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