HERSHEY, Pa. — An outsider might have thought Penn State coach James Franklin was being rude when he began to address a crowd of roughly 750 Nittany Lion supporters at a promotional stop here Tuesday night.
“Let me lead (with) this,” Franklin stated. “If my phone rings, I'm answering it.”
The huge room at the Hershey Lodge erupted in knowing laughter and applause. Earlier, the room was abuzz over media reports that Pennsylvania four-star offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins had committed to the Nittany Lions.
And as Franklin took the main podium, everyone seemed to realize Penn State was waiting for word on the possible commitment of New Jersey four-star quarterback Brandon Wimbush.
Without naming names -- talking about prospects by name is not allowed per NCAA rules -- Franklin used Twitter code to let everyone know that the Lions had secured a commitment.
“Anybody that follows me on Twitter … #WeAre…Better,” Franklin announced. Franklin makes a similar tweet each time PSU lands a commitment, though he never mentions the prospect's name.
But, thanks to reports on team-specific sites like FightOnState.com and even newspapers that cover the Lions, everyone knew Wimbush was set to announce at any minute.
From there, however, things got a bit surreal. Franklin went through his speech without having to leave to take a call. But during a Q&A session with fans, Franklin (who was joined on stage by three other PSU varsity coaches) slipped off to the side and was handed a cell phone by director of football administration Kevin Threlkel.
The room began to buzz and then fans erupted in applause again. About 15 seconds later, Franklin returned to the side of the stage, held up the phone, and began a “WeAre…” cheer. The fans responded with a loud “Penn State” every time he said it, with one man standing and pumping his fist.
As it turned out, the call was not from Wimbush -- who did commit to Penn State -- but rather from Jenkins (who revealed on Twitter the fact that he made the call). Jenkins had announced his decision on a Pittsburgh TV station and apparently it took some time to get on the phone to Franklin.
A few minutes later, Franklin returned to the stage to more applause and said, “We're doing pretty good right now. We have to keep it rolling.”