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Q&A with Terps recruiting coordinator James Franklin
James Franklin just finished his first season as recruiting coordinator at Maryland. Franklin joined Coach Ralph Friedgen's staff in April 2000 as a wide receivers coach, a responsibility he still holds in the Terps' program. Franklin is responsible for recruiting from Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland and Washington D.C.
Note from BaltimoreSun.com: Due to the large volume of questions received, and a limited time with Coach Franklin, questions were selected to cover the widest range of topics. Any questions pertaining to student athletes who have not officially signed with the university cannot be answered by the coaching staff due to NCAA regulations.
BaltimoreSun.com: Thanks for your time coach on this busy day. How do you feel this class rates and what needs did you address with these signings?
James Franklin: One of our goals was depth on the offensive and defensive line. We graduated five defensive backs and we needed to replace those guys. We signed defensive backs and offensive and defensive linemen but We also recruited a bunch of very versatile athletes, a lot of guys who could play a number of different positions. Our focus yearin and year out is to try and keep the best players in the D.C., Maryland are home. We try to lock down the state.
BaltimoreSun.com: Were you successful?
James Franklin: For the most part. We lost a few big-name guys at the end, but on the same hand we were able to go into some states like Virginia and South Carolina and go in and steal their top players.
Donald, Baltimore: If I have a player in my program [I do] who I feel can play at that level, what types of materials, and or contact are the most effective in marketing the young man to your program?
James Franklin: Whenever you are tryig to help a kid get a scholarhsip or get looked at, you want to make the recruiting process as easy as possible. You want to have transcripts printed out, basically a questionnaire filled out with height, speed, phone numbers, coach's information, give all the information you possibly can. A lot of schools say they want game tape. I want game tape as well but there isn't anything like a highlight film. It grabs the coaches' attention. Our doors are always open to the coaches in the state. Camp is a big factor in recruiting for us so I suggest that any kid 9th-11th grade interested in Maryland should check it out. We have clinics for high school coaches and our practices in the spring are going to be open.
John, Camp Hill, Pa.: Congratulations on recruiting a great class! Do you pay much attention to a recruit's ranking and "stars," or do you have your own system for assessing their talent level?
James Franklin: The star system - those guys do a decent job - but we don't look at those in terms of who we recruit. What we do is we get film and transcripts on guys that we like and check them out. Each coach has a different recruiting area. I recruit every position. So, if I go through my area and see a an offensive lineman I like then after I watch his film and grade it, I give it to the offensive line coach. If he likes it as well, then, that's a kid we'll start actively recruiting. We do hire some recruiting services to get us some raw names.
Nikhil, McLean, Va.: Should college football have an "early" signing day like basketball does?
James Franklin: The only advantage to an early signing day is that if a kid commits, you don't have to worry about him changing his mind anymore and going somewhere else once he's signed. There are so many rules and time periods, I'm about de-regulation than adding more rules. ... One area it might hurt you is if you are in a state that doesn't produce a lot of Division I athletes and you have to do a lot of your recruiting from out of state, then it makes it hard to get early commitments and compete because those kids might not get a chance to see your campus.
Walt, Columbia: How important is recruiting to winning? It seems that Maryland is a good school for recruiting players, but a great school in developing/teaching players. After all no one recruited Randy White and Boomer Esiason, and they are among the best to play the game. So, can Maryland win a national championship by being good at recruiting and great at coaching and developing players?
James Franklin: It's a fine line. There's no doubt about it, you can talk to the ESPN analysts or any of the people who really know football, but it's obvious that Coach Friedgen and our staff has done more with the talent we have than anybody in the country. There's no doubt about that. The more talent you can acquire, it makes your job that much easier. You might not always call the perfect play, but you have a great athlete out there that will find a way to be successful. I think Coach Friedgen is an X and O guy. He's going to scheme you and beat you that way, but I also believe that the acquisition of talent has to be one of your top priorities.
Chris, Dillsburg, Pa.: I know that our recruiting efforts/results in Florida have steadily expanded/improved. What challenges do we face in expanding our share of the Florida talent pool?
James Franklin: You go to Florida and you compete with the three big schools, but on the same hand there are so many Division I players in the state of Florida that they can't get them all. There's probably 150 or more Division I players coming out of the state of Florida every year.
Sean, Atlanta: In your opinion, what is the biggest impediment Maryland faces when pursuing "blue-chip" players? Facilities? Academics (too tough/not tough enough)? Lack of national recognition? Thanks for bringing great football back to Maryland and keep up the great work!
James Franklin: I was on the old staff before Coach [Ralph] Friedgen got here, so I kind of saw the transition. In the past, we were always selling the dream of what Maryland could be, but we had never really achieved it. Now, we've won 31 games in the last 3 years and been to 3 major bowl games. Now, we have something to sell. Kids can really envision us winning a national championship.
Recruiting for us is going to get easier and easier each year with the more success we have. We're striving to improve our facilities. You're constantly having to improve your facilities. The biggest thing is letting people in this area realize that Maryland is one of the elite programs in the country. There are only five teams in the country that have three 10-win seasons in a row.
Really, we're about to explode here. We have to make sure everyone in that state realizes that and they don't need to go anywhere else to achieve their goals. They can do it all right here in front of friends and family.
Paul, Owings Mills: Coach, can you talk about the level of play in Baltimore County high school football? It's been a great source of pride to see county products like C.J. Feldheim (Hereford), Domonique Foxworth (Western Tech) and Durrand Roundtree (Lansdowne) contribute over the last few years. Can we expect more county products to play for the Terps in the future? Thanks and congrats on another great recruiting class.
James Franklin: I think for years Maryland was able to compete because it got a lot of good players out of the state that people didn't recruit. I think it was underrecruited in the past. Now, it's the opposite. All these schools around the country are seeing that Maryland is winning with Maryland kids. Now, everyone is recruiting the state more aggressively.
I think Maryland is up there. I'm from Northeast Philadelphia and Pennsylvania has got a tradition of being known as a football state. I would compare Maryland very similar to Pennsylvania. Maryland has more speed. Pennsylvania probably has more big kids - offensive and defensive lineman.
Kevin, Vienna, Va.: How close is Maryland getting to matching speed with Florida State and Miami?
James Franklin: We are obviously trying to get as much speed on your team as possible. This year we looked for defensive backs and offensive and defensive linemen. We did address the speed issue. I wouldn't say we went out and recruited strictly speed, but what we did is we recruited a lot of big kids that could run well. Next year, the focus of our recruiting class is to get as much speed as we possbily can at the receiver, running back, defensive back positions and try and sign some inside linebackers. This year was more about getting depth in certain positions.
BaltimoreSun.com: Can you follow up on the issue of speed? Is it more than just someone's 40-yard dash time? Do you look at recovery time?
James Franklin: To be honest with you, people have no idea about speed. People are always throwing out 40 times. Everyone says they run a 4.3 [seconds], 4.4. There are not many of those realistic 4.4s in the country. The average NFL receiver runs 4.6. Even on our team now, we only have a handful of guys that are under 4.5.
There's a lot of factors that go into it, people round things up. For example, some kids say they are 6-foot-2 if they are really 6-1 1/2. If a coach tells the kid he runs a 4.68, the kid will round it off and say he ran a 4.6 when it's really a 4.7. ...It's not an exact science.
BaltimoreSun.com: Thanks for your time.