“Yes, this was definitely the vision. That’s why I came all the way from California to Penn State, because I knew we could win this championship and get where we are today.”
Those were the words of redshirt sophomore linebacker Koa Farmer as he sat in the locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium following Penn State’s remarkable, come from behind victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Farmer, a member of James Franklin’s first recruiting class at Penn State in 2014, not only had that vision, he’s the embodiment of that vision.
Much like the Penn State program as a whole, the Californian has had his fair share of ups and downs throughout Franklin’s brief time in charge. Recruited as an athlete, Farmer has seen position changes, mistakes, flashes of brilliance and now this. In possibly the biggest game of his life to date, Farmer was a key member of a defense that held the Badgers to just three second-half points and helped to propel his team to a conference championship.
But this was hardly a solo act. Quite the opposite, actually, as Franklin’s 2014 recruiting class made its presence felt all over the field in Indianapolis.
It started with those he was able keep commitments from. Those who had pledged to play for former head coach Bill O’Brien and now faced a world of uncertainty.
Franklin and his staff were able to reinforce the commitments of Chris Godwin (3 rec., 33 yds), Mike Gesicki (3 rec., 58 yds., 1 TD), De’Andre Thompkins, Jason Cabinda (8 tackles), Marcus Allen (11 tackles) and a host of others.
Then the newly installed head coach went to work bringing in a number of his own recruits. He gained pledges from Trace McSorley (22-31, 384 yds., 4 TD), Saeed Blacknall (6 rec., 155 yds., 2 TD), Grant Haley (5 tkl.), Christian Campbell (2 tkl.), Amani Oruwariye, Torrence Brown (3 tkl.), a pair of offensive linemen in Brendan Brosnan and Chance Sorrell, and lest we forget Farmer (1 tkl., 1 sack). The names above represent a massive part of why Penn State left Indianapolis as the conference champions.
What Franklin did with the 2014 class was lay a foundation and create a vision. He created a vision in which he united a once-divided fan base, a vision in which he helped young men become successful on and off the football field, and a vision where Penn State football once again became a part of the national scene.
Now, as Franklin himself said following Penn State’s victory over Michigan State, this is only the beginning. The foundation has been laid and vision is rolling along at full speed. Where it goes from here is anybody’s guess, but thanks to that 2014 class and the vision of young, ambitious head coach, Penn State is on the rise and there seems to be no ceiling in sight.