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James Franklin remains busy on recruiting trail, visits QB Max Duggan
This is an extremely active week for the Penn State staff as it transitions focus from game-day preparation to recruiting strategy. There’s no doubt James Franklin and Nittany Lions coaches would prefer to spend these next few days installing plans for a Big Ten Championship Game matchup with Wisconsin, but Ohio State will instead represent the conference’s East Division on Saturday.
Just as they did during a mid-October bye week, Penn State coaches are logging substantial miles with trips across America. Franklin and his assistants are scattered throughout the country, visiting Nittany Lions commits and targets representing various recruiting classes.
Franklin began a busy week in Texas but made his way back to Big Ten country Tuesday, according to a report from Kevin White of the Omaha World-Herald:
I can confirm Penn State head coach James Franklin just left Lewis Central HS. Nittany Lions among those who’ve offered jr QB Max Duggan.
— Kevin White (@KWhiteOWH) November 28, 2017
Max Duggan, a junior at Lewis Central (Council Bluffs, Iowa), became the latest blue-chip recruit to welcome Franklin to town. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound quarterback received a Penn State offer on June 3 while on campus for the first time.
“Getting a chance to spend some time with Coach Franklin and see his personality was a great experience and I loved it,” he told Land of 10 afterward. “It’s a great honor for them to believe in me as a person and player for their program.”
Considered the No. 9 dual-threat quarterback and a 4-star recruit in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings, Duggan missed multiple games this season with a broken thumb, according to Blake Baxter of the World-Herald. He returned to help lead Lewis Central to Class 4A state quarterfinals, where his squad lost to Ankeny Centennial, a team that features Nittany Lions kicker commit Jake Pinegar.
Duggan completed 58 percent of passes in limited action this season, tossing 8 touchdowns and just 1 interception. He also rushed for 513 yards and 9 scores, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
Through three high school seasons, Duggan has thrown for 3,760 yards, 35 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. His rushing totals also stand out, as he’s collected 1,464 yards and 27 scores.
Penn State has prioritized dual-threat quarterbacks under the direction of Franklin and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Current Nittany Lions starter Trace McSorley is a dangerous runner, while backup Tommy Stevens surpassed 100 rushing yards in less than a full half last Saturday vs. Maryland.
Incoming 2018 commit Will Levis is an extremely athletic player at the position, and the same can be said for 2019 quarterback pledge Taquan Roberson. The presence of Roberson, who committed to Penn State on Oct. 26, likely won’t halt the Nittany Lions’ hunt for quarterback talent in this cycle.
A visit from Franklin on Tuesday indicates Duggan remains a prospect of high interest, while Garrett Shrader (Charlotte, N.C.) remains another name to know at the position. There is certainly a chance Penn State’s 2019 class could feature a pair of passers, presenting dynamics that are always interesting to monitor since those players would project to spend their collegiate careers battling for reps.
Duggan enjoyed an opportunity to study offensive philosophies with Moorhead during his visit to Happy Valley. He returned home confident about a potential fit with the program.
“Coach Moorhead and I got to watch film together for about an hour,” Duggan said. “We went over their philosophy and what they look for in a quarterback. I’m similar to the quarterbacks Penn State has right now. What they do in the offense — RPOs (run-pass option plays), extending plays with mobility and throwing the ball downfield — is everything that’s in my game.”
The Nittany Lions face significant competition in an increasingly crowded recruitment here. Duggan’s offer sheet also includes Georgia, Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern and Ole Miss.
We’ll continue to keep tabs on the travels of Penn State coaches this week, including an overall wrap-up Friday. Watch Duggan’s 2017 highlights here:
Recruiting battles vs. Ohio State crucial in 2018 class … and beyond
Penn State and Ohio State have battled back and forth during Big Ten matchups, ultimately impacting each other’s attempts for conference supremacy in each of the past two seasons. This rivalry also extends to the recruiting trail, creating consistent battles throughout each cycle.
Recent developments regarding Buckeyes defensive coordinator Greg Schiano are certainly worth noting. While it’s no surprise a coach who previously led an NFL franchise and rose a downtrodden Rutgers program to annual Top 25 inclusion would receive interest from other universities, news Sunday sent shock waves across college football.
Schiano and Tennessee had reportedly agreed to a deal, setting the stage for him to make a leap to the SEC. Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few days, you know by now that backlash from Volunteers fans and boosters derailed those plans, and Schiano remains in Columbus for now.
Still, you have to wonder how these developments may have impacted the Buckeyes’ progress with key defensive targets. Surely these recruits can’t feel safe operating under the assumption Schiano will stay with Ohio State long-term, though the same case could be made for Moorhead, who is sure to draw attention as a potential head coach moving ahead.
But unlike Moorhead, Schiano seemingly had both feet out the door. This could at least cause some ripple effect with defensive ends Jayson Oweh and Tyreke Smith, who are both also top Penn State targets.
Of course, beloved Buckeyes defensive line coach Larry Johnson is a key component of those recruitments. Coaching staff changes are simply an expected element of each recruiting cycle, so it’s up to each individual athlete to weigh the impact of Schiano’s near-departure.
Beyond these key 2018 defensive recruits, there are also several 2019 talents who may ultimately decide between Ohio State and Penn State. This group includes linebackers Shane Lee and Cade Stover, defensive tackle Antonio Alfano, safety Lewis Cine and defensive end Noah Potter.
Miss any previous editions of our daily Penn State recruiting notebook? You can find them all here.
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