Penn State Football: Previewing James Franklin's 1st Season at the Helm

Andrew Windsor@wandsorContributor IJune 23, 2014

James Franklin observes his team during spring scrimmage.
James Franklin observes his team during spring scrimmage.Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

James Franklin is losing sleep in the summer so he doesn't have to in the fall. USA Today's Paul Myerberg reports that after a tedious day in the office, Franklin meshes two couches together in the facility and doses off. Hard work like this usually pays off, as it will in James Franklin's case.

A strong work ethic will entice a blend of offseason arrivals and blossoming young talent to escalate Penn State into a Big Ten title contender. Competing against monumental opponents like Ohio State, Michigan State, and potentially Wisconsin makes this no easy task. Franklin has tools at hand to build a victorious army that could conquer these opponents.

Franklin is a salesman. Aside from coaching football, he can recruit. Franklin persuaded seven 4-star recruits to join Penn State, according to ESPN. That ranks fourth-best in the country. It's even more astounding his success at recruiting came without even coaching a game at Penn State yet.

Some of the young talent Franklin accumulated will see significant playing time. De'Andre Thompkins, Troy Reeder and Saeed Blacknall should start from the first day. Expect a few other incoming players to make an impact as well from this extravagant recruiting class.

The development of young talent from the previous year will be apparent though Franklin's work. His experience to help other programs develop speaks for itself. Mark Dent of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

He went from college East Stroudsburg to Europe to Kutztown University back to East Stroudsburg to James Madison to Washington State to Idaho State to Maryland to the Green Bay Packers to Kansas State and back to Maryland in a period of 15 years before he became a head coach. 

Once he came to Vanderbilt, Franklin spawned new-found glory for a program that was buried at the bottom of the Southeastern Conference. He developed top shelf NFL players like Casey Hayward, Zac Stacy, and Jordan Matthews. Expect similar results in the development of Penn State players.

Penn State will need the 2014 Big Ten Freshman of the year, Quarterback Christian Hackenberg, to out-duel the Herculean defense coach Mark Dantonio sculpted. Hackenberg's triumph in producing nearly 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns last year will give him a solid foundation to construct on. With Adam Breneman returning and the addition of Thompkins and Blacknall, look for Hackenberg to build on those numbers.

The defense is stacking talent as well. This is a must for Penn State to be able to impede the powerful Ohio State offense led by Quarterback Braxton Miller. Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel will need to anchor down the line of scrimmage to prevent Miller from scrambling. Safety Adrian Amos will need to quarterback the secondary to shell Miller's aerial attack.

Unfortunately for Penn State, both Michigan State and Ohio State have a powerful run game. Penn State's vulnerability could be exposed here. Braxton Miller and Jeremy Langford look to have field days against Penn State's deprived linebacker core. Penn's state's incoming recruiting class, coupled by an experienced defensive line and secondary should cloud the inferior linebacker position. 

To bring all of this talent together and translate it into success is up to Franklin. With strong persistence and desire, Franklin's coaching style will emulate the success Penn State will see in the Big Ten. Franklin told Myerberg, "My greatest strength is my passion and drive. My greatest weakness is my passion and drive."

Franklin's passion and drive is already gaining notice by young recruits and Penn State University. His recruiting ability and persona is creating an exciting buzz on campus. Many head coaches have never secured premature success like this in their programs before the start of a season. Franklin's work ethic will fuse with an ample amount of returning talent and a superb recruiting class, hatching monster in the Big Ten.

Once the Big Ten title is brought to Penn State, maybe Coach Franklin will finally be able to rest at ease in his own bed. Franklin's acquisition of success, however, won't render him content. The blueprint for the resurrection of a fallen program looks to be in the works.