The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 13, 2014

Todd Hummel's college column: First task for Franklin? Keep Penn State's recruiting class intact

By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item

— Though it seems the search has lasted longer than some celebrity marriages, it really didn’t take all that long for Penn State University to select a replacement for Bill O’Brien.

The wild west of social media and the 24-hour sports news cycle even at the local level had the PSU coaching search on the tip of everybody’s tongue for three weeks.

Now that the choice has been made, it seems like James Franklin biggest job right now is keeping Penn State’s 21-player recruiting class intact. O’Brien biggest recruit might be quarterback Michael O’Connor, from IMG Academy in Florida. O’Connor flew to State College this weekend to meet with Franklin before deciding on what to do. O’Connor had planned to enrolling early to the Nittany Lions.

It seems like most of the top in-state recruits like Scranton Prep’s Noah Beh plan on staying with the Nittany Lions but with the February signing date fast approaching Franklin certainly must hit the ground running.

It looks like it shouldn’t be hard for the Langhorne native if Saturday’s press conference is any indication. Franklin certainly seems to have the energy and charisma to continue the rebuilding and healing process that O’Brien began. In fact, according to, Franklin already had two Vanderbilt recruits decommitt to the Commodores to follow Franklin to Happy Valley.



Finally I can get back to basketball and it’s been a pretty good start in Patriot League play for both the Bucknell men’s and women’s basketball teams, both coming off heart-stopping wins this weekend over Holy Cross. Both teams have won three consecutive league games after dropping their opener.

The Bison men fell behind early at home to the Crusaders, before using a 13-0 run to tie the game by halftime, then battle in a second half that saw neither team led by more than a possession until Cam Ayers gave Bucknell four-point lead with under a second left.

Poor Aaron Roussell. The second-year Bucknell coach had to worry through a one-point win over Lafayette on Wednesday that saw the Bison trail by double-digits at the half and not take their first lead until under two minutes left in the game.

That was followed by a road trip Saturday to Holy Cross that saw the Bison need a 3-pointer at the buzzer by freshman forward Clare De Boer to beat the Crusaders.

It’s the first time the Bucknell’s women’s team has won three consecutive games this season and its bench is a big reason why.

The Lafayette game being a perfect case in point. None of the bench numbers jump off the stat sheet, but anyone that follows the Bison can see that depth has played a huge role for Bucknell.

Katherine Harris can come off the bench and hit a 3-pointer to spark a rally like she did against the Leopards. Center Micki Impellizeri didn’t score against Lafayette, but had four assists, then had four blocks off the bench against Holy Cross.

Taylor Craig is a defensive irritant and scored the go-ahead bucket against the Leopards.

Bucknell were certainly be tested this week as the Bison host the service academies at Sojka Pavilion. Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Navy visits, the only undefeated team left in the Patriot League. Saturday night at 7 p.m. brings Army, last year’s league champion.