Penn State radio play-by-play announcer Steve Jones likes what he sees so far out of new Nittany Lion football coach James Franklin.
"He is a genuine guy, I mean that's the biggest part about him. There's nothing about him that's phony," Jones said before meeting with the Williamsport Nittany Lion Booster Club Monday night at The Genetti. "When you talk to him, he's personable, he's one-to-one with you. He tells it straight to you and he is somebody who has a great sense of humor but deep loyalty as well. You can see that with his staff the way he works with his staff. He's tried to build a deep loyalty and rapport with his players and he's a great family man as well.
"There was a great moment at the end of practice maybe about a week, 10 days ago,"?said Jones. "And practice was over and he just met with his team and he started to walk off the practice field and his daughter, it may have been Shola, yells out, 'Daddy, daddy' up on the balcony and he goes sprinting, as if he hadn't seen her in three weeks. You see something like that, it makes you feel good about the guy."
Penn State fans should be feeling good about Franklin as he has brough life back to a once fractured program and his 2015 recruiting class is ranked sixth nationally by 24/7 Sports.
"Well he's done a great job of energizing the passion of the fan base," said Jones. "All everyone really knows right now is about James Franklin the recruiter. Well that has people energized and excited. When ESPN.com does a survey of their top 300 recruits and the recruits far and away name him the most honest and direct to deal with, the one that they trust the most, that tells you a lot. That's energized the fans. He connects well with the students.
"When we do our talk show Thursday nights at Damon's, he literally will go to the tables and meet and greet each person that is in there, there maybe 200 in there. At each commercial break he'll get up and go over, what's your name, he'll memorize the name," said Jones. "Little things become big things. Look, the guy won the offseason big, he won the offseason huge. No body won the offseason like he did and he did it with his own personality. It wasn't forced."
If that personality continues to take highly touted recruits away from the SEC and other Big Ten programs, Jones believes Penn State could be one of the teams fighting for a chance at the national title in a few years.
"For 46 years, Penn State had the right guy. For two years, with Bill's (O'Brien) personality, they had the right guy. Moving forward they have the right guy," Jones said. "There's just no question about it in my mind. I can see Penn State being in a position within five years, where they're going to be one of those teams fighting for the college football playoff to be in the final four. This year, we'll see. This year's a mystery year. There's no question about it, it's a mystery year in a lot of ways. The opening game's a mystery game but Bill O'Brien told me repeatedly, 2014 worried him."
Franklin's first test will be getting his team ready for its trip to Dublin this week, where it will play Central Floirda in its first game of the 2014 season.
"Going over there to play doesn't faze me that much. My entire concern has been how are you going to feel when you come back and have to play Akron the next week," Jones said. "Idealistically you'd love to have a bye week but the bye week is not there and these guys didn't have to put together the schedule."