Early signing day seen as plus

ASSOCIATED PRESS Tommy Stevens is listed as a starter on the Penn State depth chart.

STATE COLLEGE – A capsule look at James Franklin’s bowl media day news conference.

Early signing day (part 1): College football now has an early signing period, and Wednesday is the first national signing day. That can be tricky with so much coaching movement taking place around the country at this time of year. “When guys committed to us months ago, I told them they need to be committing to Penn State, the university, our football program and me,” Franklin said. “I want to keep the staff together for as long as we possibly can, but there’s going to be some of that in college football (where some assistants leave). For me to say there isn’t would not be truthful.”

Early signing day (part 2): Franklin said he is a fan of the early signing day because most kids who commit are ready to go ahead and sign their letter of intent. “They are sick of the process at this point now,” Franklin said. He told a funny story about having to stay in touch with a recruit after the commitment and trying to schedule yet another home visit just to make sure the kid hadn’t changed his mind. “The dad was like, ‘Why?'” Franklin explained. “I just want to make sure that we’ve got everything covered and you guys are really comfortable and feel good about this whole process. He’s like, ‘Coach, I could not be more comfortable, and I really don’t want you coming to the house again.’ Like leave-us-alone-type-of-deal.”

Stevens gets own position: Backup QB Tommy Stevens is listed as a starter on the bowl depth chart, and he has his own new position. He’s listed as Lion. “We want to treat him like a starter, cause that’s really what he is for us,” Franklin said. “Talking to our defensive coaches, talking to our offensive coaches, we see his role expanding, especially now that we’re in a situation where we’re creating more and more depth at the quarterback position.” Franklin said Stevens has brought up in the past about playing on special teams or even defense, whatever he could to contribute. “He just wants to have as big of a role as he possibly can, and the reality is, it makes sense. … There’s really nothing off the table in terms of his opportunity to have a bigger role on our team.”

No Bowen for bowl game: Starting LB Manny Bowen will not play in the Fiesta Bowl because of apparent disciplinary reasons, making it the fourth consecutive game he will miss to end the season. Bowen also sat out the Rose Bowl last year. Franklin was asked if Bowen would still be part of the team going forward and would only say, “Manny Bowen will not be available for the bowl game.”

Similarities to USC: The Lions played an explosive Pac-12 team in USC in last season’s Rose Bowl, and Franklin was asked if he sees similarities in the Fiesta Bowl matchup against Washington, also from the Pac-12. “There’s similarities whenever you play a team from the same conference, unless they are a team that is really different in the style,” Franklin said before adding, “But you know, at the end of the day, it’s evaluating their roster, evaluating their film, how they play, how they call their offense. They have had a change at their coordinator position. … There’s some similarities from a conference standpoint, but we’re mainly focused on Washington and what we’ve seen on tape the last four or five games of the year and make sure we’re watching the tapes and the games that probably have the most similarities to us.”

— Compiled by Cory Giger