He did, he did, he DID say thank you…

He did, he did, he DID say thank you…

First things first and then we close the book on it. This past Saturday, James Franklin held an end-of-season press conference. Among the myriad of topics discussed during the 37 minute tele-conference (no thanks to you Storm Jonas) were the departing words, or lack thereof, from NFL-bound Christian Hackenberg. The former QB (strange already, isn’t it?) managed to thank everyone under the sun on his way out the door. Everyone that is except the head coach who guided him over the past two seasons. Take it for what it’s worth because most considered it a snub, but according to FrankLion, they actually DID speak over the phone the next day. They both gave thanks, exchanged long distance hugs, and sang “Kumbaya” over a virtual campfire to top it all off. Enough is enough now, that era is done and over with and both men have something to prove going forward. Yes folks, it’s the offseason. In other words, get used to the mundane over the next eight months.

The week began in Pittsburgh, as it often does during the heat of recruiting season. A delegation of Nittany Lion coaches, led by the head man himself, swooped in on a Penn State-chartered bus with a round trip ticket to Happy Valley. The bus returned with a handful of committed and hope-to-be commits from the coveted 412 area code. Thanks again to Storm Jonas, Penn State’s huge recruiting weekend fell short as most from out of state stayed home because of the conditions. All in all, the weekend was much quieter than expected, but the ones who did make it represent the core of this year’s class that currently sits ranked somewhere inside the top 15. Quickly taking the lead as our number one arch enemy, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh has been busy plucking away at the class and managed to gain a flip from defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour and a commit from highly-sought athlete Khaleke Hudson of McKeesport, PA. Welcome to the cutthroat world of recruiting, where even Urban Meyer can look like a half-way decent guy, as crazy as that sounds.

In kicker news (yes folks, remember the mundane?) Penn State gained a flip of its own in former Rutgers commit Alex Barbir of South Forsyth, Georgia and promptly showed drama queen, Quinn Nordin, the backside of its door. The day a kicker became the hot commodity is the day recruiting truly died, as ugly as it had already been. Chalk one up to Franklin for finally nipping that plane wreck in the bud. Commits, decommits, flips, and hanging on the edge by a kicker. It’s all enough to make your head spin, but it all comes to an end on Wednesday, Febuary 3rd as Penn State officially welcomes its newest crop of Nittany Lions on National Signing Day 2016.

In news involving former Lions, we begin in Mobile, Alabama where the ultimate underdog Carl Nassib has been busy being a one man wrecking crew in front of the eyes of NFL scouts. He and fellow Nittany Lion, Austin Johnson, prepare for Saturday’s Reese’s Senior Bowl. Word has it that both players have turned heads, but Nassib has been putting on a show and improving his draft status with the grit and determination we all grew to love. On Tuesday, it was announced that everyone’s favorite math wizard, John Urschel, had applied and been accepted to pursue his PhD from prestigious MIT. Once again, that culture has reared its ugly head and the Baltimore Raven (ugh!!!) leads the charge. Charleston native and legendary Lion, Curt Warner, was elected into the West Virginia Hall of Fame- long overdue in my book. Finally, State College’s own Jordan Norwood (Denver Broncos) is the last Lion standing in a quest for a Super Bowl 50 ring. Remarkably, this will be the 45th game out of 50 that Penn State has been represented by at least one player in the biggest game of the year.

As for that former quarterback (I know, it still takes some getting used to), the guy we all know fondly as Hack has been sighted all the way across the country in sunny California, working with the Palmer brothers as he prepares for his next journey. The guy he supposedly snubbed has been busy crisscrossing the region trying to piece together the stability of his own future. It’s no secret that there was no love lost between the two during the past two seasons but, one would hope that because of the conditions and adversity they both faced, time will heal those wounds with a genuine “thank you” being the ultimate goal. Until then, the book has officially closed.