NCF On The Trail: Brendan Brosnan

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- James Franklin likes to tell recruits that he leaps out of bed at 4 a.m. and performs a back handspring.

That's an exaggeration, of course, a joke to give recruits an idea of his high-energy personality. But that also seems appropriate now, especially given how many flips he has produced from Vanderbilt's class to Penn State's.

He has flipped five pledges from his old school -- six, if defensive end Lloyd Tubman (Louisville, Ky./Seneca) sticks with PSU -- which is the second-most of this college football offseason. Only Washington's Chris Petersen possesses more (six), but he was hired in early December and boasted more than a month's head start.

Franklin has averaged more than a flip per week. And he also has reeled in eight hard verbals from eight different states in less than a month on the job. So his success has a lot of fans and fellow recruits shaking their heads and wondering just how he managed to achieve this so quickly.

[+] EnlargeJames Franklin
AP Photo/ John BealeJames Franklin's enthusiasm is a key to his recruiting success.
"It's kind of surprising how many of us really did follow, but it's not surprising," said three-star quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods), who initially committed to Vanderbilt in July. "It's just the kind of guy Coach Franklin is. He's energetic; that's the reason everyone wanted to go play for him at Vanderbilt."

In separate interviews, four of those flips told ESPN.com that energy is exactly what sold them on Franklin. He's the kind of coach who awoke on a recent Sunday morning and high-fived and hugged visiting recruits at breakfast. He speaks quickly and loudly, as if he perpetually just polished off a six-pack of Red Bull.

Three-star offensive tackle Chance Sorrell (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown) said that energy is a big reason for his relationship with Franklin. He recalled with a laugh the time an assistant told him how Franklin pulled alongside a Tennessee car sporting a Georgia Bulldogs flag. Franklin stepped out of his vehicle, knocked on the window -- and asked the driver what it would take for him to attend a Commodores game.

"The way he's involved, you can just tell he genuinely cares about all of his players and everyone he meets," said Sorrell, who flipped to Penn State five hours after Franklin was introduced as the head coach. "He's very persuasive. It doesn't matter where you're from; he'll make you want to play for him."

Sorrell's future teammate McSorley said he spoke to about 10 head coaches over the course of his recruitment, and none came close to matching Franklin's energy. That's Franklin's trademark, his signature, and it's what's helped fuel Franklin as the pied piper of Vanderbilt commits.

McSorley watched part of Franklin's introductory news conference, when he loudly proclaimed -- several times -- that he intended to "dominate the state" and "dominate the region" in recruiting. Franklin's hour-long talk impacted the fan base so much that it led to the instant creation of at least three T-shirts with his adopted slogans.

One of the few people who wasn't surprised? McSorley. He knew Penn State's new head coach wasn't in a good mood or wasn't "on" that day. "That's just how he is. That's exactly the person he is. All the time."

Added three-star offensive tackle Brendan Brosnan (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine Township South): "It's the way he carries himself, with all that energy. That energy shows he wants to be there, that he's giving it his all every day. It's contagious; his energy is contagious."

This isn't to say Franklin's energy, or even Franklin himself, is the sole reason for all these commitments, but it certainly seemed to play the largest role. A lot of these commits believe in Franklin's vision of Penn State reclaiming its spot as a national powerhouse.

Seven assistant coaches followed Franklin to Penn State because they believe that as well, and recruits also believe in the theory that because Franklin brought success to Vanderbilt, he certainly can do it at Penn State. Penn State has a bigger fan base and better facilities -- Vanderbilt doesn't even have a players' lounge -- and plays in a less competitive conference. It's a program that offensive line coach Herb Hand deemed as one of the 15 "haves" in a college football world of "have-nots."

"The biggest piece of advice people gave me during the recruiting process is don't commit to a coach, commit to a school," Brosnan said. "And I agree with that a little bit.

"But I think a coach, especially in Franklin's case, plays a large part. He played a large part in Vanderbilt's success and, the way I see it, the ceiling for success is higher at Penn State. It really is."
Signing day is inching closer and closer, which means there are questions out there. The Big Ten has plenty of top targets remaining.

Here are five things to watch within the conference as signing day approaches:

Four-star DB flips from Penn State

January, 16, 2014
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Only a few days after ESPN 300 defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) decommitted from Penn State, the Nittany Lions have lost another commitment.

Defensive back Troy Vincent Jr. (Baltimore, Md./Gilman) switched his commitment from Penn State to N.C. State on Thursday according to multiple reports.

The four-star prospect was the fifth highest-ranked commit for Penn State in the 2014 class and one of three defensive backs committed. Vincent Jr.’s decision leaves coach James Franklin with 20 commits and, despite not having a ton of time until signing day, there might still be plenty of options to fill that spot.

Defensive back Trent Sherfield (Danville, Ill./Danville) was a Vanderbilt commit under Franklin, decommitted after Franklin left for PSU, and now is expecting an in-school visit from the Penn State coaches on Friday.

Sherfield is already familiar with the coaching staff, and the three-star prospect would help fill the hole left by Vincent Jr.

Franklin has already flipped three Vanderbilt commits to Penn State in Chance Sorrell (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown), Lloyd Tubman (Louisville, Ky./Seneca) and Brendan Brosnan (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine Township South), so there might also be some familiarity for Sherfield with the recruits in Happy Valley.

The departure of Vincent Jr. is a big hit to the class, but it looks as though there will be options for Penn State.
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James Franklin had already flipped two of Vanderbilt’s commitments to Penn State, and the new coach has added another former Commodores pledge.

Offensive lineman Brendan Brosnan (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine Township) decided to switch his commitment to the Nittany Lions on Tuesday, and along with Chance Sorrell (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown), is the second offensive lineman for Franklin at Penn State.


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