STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Brennan Franklin was ready to play junior college football at Eastern Arizona when Penn State defensive coordinator Ted Roof called the linebacker.
The Division I scholarship offer was too good to pass up, even if it came after the NCAA announced sanctions against the Nittany Lions, including a significant hit in scholarships.
Penn State has lost more than half a dozen players in light of the penalties July 23, but Franklin will have the distinction of being the first scholarship player to sign in Happy Valley since the NCAA announced its decisions.
The Nittany Lions open preseason camp today.
"The first thing he asked was if I'd ever been in a fight," Franklin said of Roof in a recent phone interview. He replied yes.
"He said, 'That's good, because that's what this is going to be.' "
The NCAA — as part of its landmark punishment of the program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal — reduced the maximum number of scholarships that Penn State could offer each year from 25 to 15 for a four-year period, starting with the 2013 recruiting class. And PSU can't have more than 65 scholarship players at any time for a four-year period starting in 2014, down from 85.
The NCAA has allowed current players to transfer and have immediate eligibility. Nine have done so, the latest being Justin Brown, last year's top receiver for the Nittany Lions who is transferring to Oklahoma.
Saban: Predictions 'hijack the game'
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Here's a prediction: Nick Saban won't like questions about predictions. The Alabama coach has no interest in dissecting the national championship race or discussing which young Crimson Tide players are poised to blossom into stars. "All these predictions that you all make, they hijack the game," Saban told the media. "All anybody worries about in college football is the BCS, who's going to be in the final game. We have a lot of great games. … And why do we play the games? To answer the questions."
AIR FORCE: Coach Troy Calhoun said five players were off the team: Linebacker Jamil Cooks, receivers Brandon Hirneise and Mikel Hunter, tight end Devin Durden and safety Anthony Wooding. All five are still enrolled at the academy.
GEORGIA: Cornerback Branden Smith, who is on the preseason Hornung Award watch list for the nation's most versatile player, will not be suspended for an offseason arrest. The senior was arrested on a marijuana possession charge and eventually received pretrial intervention. Normally under UGA athletic policy, a misdemeanor arrest triggers a one-game suspension for football, but coach Mark Richt said they had received enough information to let Smith play.
PITT: Coach Paul Chryst said offensive lineman Juantez Hollins was suspended for the season for breaking team rules.