In my fervent pursuit of anything football related, I had the idea to rank in terms of stars the ability of an unranked player. As many of you are aware, Brennan Franklin is a 2012 commit to the Nittany Lions and the first commit post-NCAA gut-punch (or nutsack punch, if you prefer, 87Townie). Many of you may also be aware that he is an unrated prospect by all three major services. However, I'd bet most of you do not know why.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree, the senior linebacker from Peoria, Arizona took a long and winding road to Happy Valley. Here's his story:
Let's start in 2008, when Franklin went out for football at St. Mary's, a prestigious private high school in central Phoenix.
He started on the freshman squad and totaled 34 tackles in his first game, according to Brandon. A week later, Brennan had 19 tackles and knocked three players silly in the first half, at which time the school's opponent refused to continue unless Brennan left the field.
"So they moved him to the varsity," Brandon Franklin said.
Brennan Franklin performed well for three years, and earned recruiting interest from Army, Air Force, San Diego State and, yes, Penn State, among others. The attention excited Franklin, who grew up with a dream to play at Georgia -- in his dad's home state -- or Linebacker U, Penn State.
But the football program around Franklin fell into disarray. Players began to transfer after his freshman year. The sagging Arizona economy took a toll at St. Mary's, which relies solely on tuition and donations for financial support.
In his junior year, Franklin played 162 snaps one night at nine positions, his dad said. Franklin had to change jerseys midgame so he could move from the offensive line to running back. He required hospitalization on three occasions to administer IV fluids.
By the time he transferred to Peoria Centennial last summer before his senior year, St. Mary's, amid coaching upheaval, had failed to package his film for recruiters.
He no longer heard from Penn State.
"They lost track of me, basically," Franklin said.
Before the first practice last August at powerful Centennial, coach Richard Taylor asked Franklin about his style of play.
"I'd rather not say anything, Coach," Franklin said. "I'd rather just show you on the field."
Taylor knew after one practice.
As college coaches visited Centennial last fall to recruit safety Zach Hoffpauir, who signed in February with Stanford, the coach often mentioned Franklin. Taylor said Franklin had outperformed linebackers Centennial sent to UNLV and Air Force in recent years. But early in the season, he had no film of Franklin.
"They need film if they're going to recommend someone to their head coach," Taylor said.
So we, the Black Shoe Diaries readers, have a unique opportunity to examine the film of Brennan Franklin and award him a star count based on that ability. Below is his senior film, as well as workouts at UNLV's camp. Be as honest and fair as you can with your star count in the poll. In the comments section, try and compare him to another Penn State middle linebacker.
Senior Highlights (Centennial High School)
Junior Workout at UNLV (Saint Mary's High School)