Why Early NFL Departures Are Good For Penn State

By Michael Stanley on January 10, 2019 at 2:16 pm
Former Penn State Running Back Saquon Barkley New York Giants NFL

© Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

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It's easy to hear that a certain player is skipping his senior year to head to the NFL and get upset, but I promise, it's good news for any program.


There has been a lot of criticism lately towards James Franklin for not being able to convince juniors to return for their senior seasons. I assure you, any school would love to have the "problem" of sending their players to the NFL.

Come draft time, schools and their coaches will do everything in their power to prove their players can make it in the NFL. Assistant coaches and coordinators post graphics to highlight all the players that got drafted from their schools. It's an incredible selling point because let's be clear about one thing: big-time recruits care about getting to the big league. Look at Ohio State and Alabama, for instance. Yes, they've proven they can win it on the big stage. But their main selling point for being able to recruit every five-star they want is that the player is almost assured of being a first-round pick, whereas a similar player with similar talents at a school such as Iowa State, would be more likely to go in the second round. That's a lot of lost money.

"That was the biggest thing for me. You can go to Penn State and still go to the league from there and be a top pick."– Noah Cain

We all know this, but recruiting is the lifeblood of college football. You can't win titles without elite recruiting, as evidenced by these statistics. It's not a coincidence that Alabama tops both recruiting rankings and national rankings more often than not. So in order to join the elite status we all long for, we need to be elite recruiters. Penn State can now point at these early entrants and say "Want to be in the NFL? Well, we can do that for you." When Saquon Barkley left early and proceeded to go No. 2 overall, it proved to recruits that Penn State can be an NFL launching pad. Franklin would've gladly taken every possible year with Barkley, but he has still made his life easier recruiting new players.

And Franklin, to his credit, has made no pretenses about his aggressive goals for his players. He wants players earning degrees in three years. He wants as many early-enrollees as the number crunch will allow, as evidenced by the ELEVEN early arriving freshman (one is a JUCO, but you get the point) on campus this week. He wants their timelines for playing opportunities accelerated by having seven months of Body by Galt® before they even play a game. By the time they will be eligible for the NFL draft (three years after completing high school) many will already have degrees in-hand. This is a huge selling point for Penn State.

Yes, the five early entrants may have been tremendous assets on the field in 2019. But they could be even greater assets down the road off the field. Because as we all know: recruiting is the lifeblood of college football.

We all know this is a hot-button issue around here, so we'd love to hear everyone's takes on the topic!

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