Will Ricky Rahne leaving impact Penn State recruiting, and will the offense change? Cotton Bowl motivation, m – PennLive

Posted: December 14, 2019 at 10:42 pm

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The countdown is on to Penn States first appearance in the Cotton Bowl since 1975.

Practices are ongoing in State College while head coach James Franklin and his staff continue to pound the pavement on the recruiting trail. The drills are all about improvement for the blue and white right now, and many young players are receiving more reps than they did during the regular season.

Its with that bit of background information that we kick off this weeks PennLive Penn State mailbag, and there is a lot to get to. Unsurprisingly, the majority of your questions this week focus on the movement at offensive coordinator now that Ricky Rahne is at Old Dominion and Franklin has a new hire to make. There is some variety in this edition, though, and remember: Questions (which are in the bold-face text below) can be submitted weekly to gpickel@pennlive.com or on Twitter by sending a message to @GregPickel.

Lets get to it.

@TCGIbson13 asks: Who is the most likely candidate for the OC position?

We posted a pretty long list of potential candidates back on Monday, and while one of those names becoming the pick won't shock me, that isn't exactly Franklin's style.

Think about it: No one thought Joe Moorhead would replace John Donovan before the 2016 season, and who saw Joe Lorig joining the staff as the new special teams coordinator?

Franklin has a good idea of who he wants for any potential opening on his staff and always has. An internal promotion doesnt make sense this time around, but a seemingly logical pick such as Mississippi States Andrew Breiner, Ohio States Mike Yurcich, or Minnesotas Kirk Ciarrocca might be too easy of a prediction to come true.

@DPeazy007 asks: Do you think any of the position coaches take a coordinator position with Rahne?

Rahne hired third-year PSU grad assistant Mark Dupuis to join his staff on Wednesday night, and other lower-level Lions staffers could join him with the Monarchs.

Im hardpressed to think that any of the current position coaches will join him, though. For starters, itd probably equal a pay decrease, and only tight ends coach Tyler Bowen would fit a hypothetical mold of an up-and-coming coach with play calling experience. Gerad Parker would too, I suppose, but have he and Rahne bonded quick enough to team up elsewhere? It seems unlikely.

Then, defensively, its a veteran staff that has had opportunities to move on to bigger jobs than ODU. Again, its not wise to rule anything out in this wild game of college football, but its hard to make a logical case for any of Brent Prys staff to head to Norfolk.

@OhioLions333 asks: Who will have a bigger role next year from the class of 2019 that didnt get much playing time this year?

Great question! There are so many options to choose from.

On offense, it seems smart to pick TJ Jones or John Dunmore. Both receivers redshirted but there are obviously opportunities to get on the field at that position in 2020. Then, theres Caedan Wallace, who is going to fight for a starting spot despite all the returning offensive line starters, and tight end Brenton Strange could work his way into the Nick Bowers role behind Pat Freiermuth.

Defensively, Lance Dixon looked ready to play special teams and some spot linebacker reps, but he was wisely redshirted. There should be a bigger role for him in the new year. The same goes for end Adisa Isaac, who did some nice things when out on the field in 2019.

Finally, the staff took time to point out corner Daequan Hardy during media availabilities during the fall. He should see immediate special teams work.

With Hardy the pick for that unit, lets go with Caedan Wallace on offense and Lance Dixon on defense.

@bpwpsu317 asks: How much money do you think Franklins contract is worth? How much for assistants, facilities? Thanks

Youre right: Penn State has not released those details yet.

The base salary should go up into the high $6 million dollar range if not $7 million as soon as 2020.

As for the added cash for assistants and facilities, well never learn how much that pot swelled thanks to this latest deal, but the word considerably should sum it up well. Well know more, too, when we see what caliber of offensive coordinator is hired.

Finally: No, there is no indication as to when the terms will be released.

@TJUtley asks: Who would be favored if Penn State played Wisconsin on a neutral field?

According to the power ratings over at The Action Network, the Badgers would be a 1.5-point favorite.

In this current environment, bettors might jump on Wisconsin because of PSUs current coordinator uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the line might have the Lions as about a three-point underdog in a hypothetical neutral site matchup.

@dgreder22 asks: Its early but where do you see Penn States recruiting class landing next year? If a playoff birth happens next year, how do you see that affecting Penn States recruiting?

At this time last year, we thought Penn State would sign a top-five Class of 2020 if it could reel in Southern Columbia receiver Julian Fleming (Ohio State) and Maryland five-star end Bryan Bresee (Clemson). The Lions are still signing a strong class in, but not what it could have been.

Its again too early to tell, but PSU hosted a very strong group of underclassmen last weekend, and if it can turn some of those visitors, such as five-star Washington, D.C., quarterback Caleb Williams and Maryland four-star offensive lineman Landon Tengwall, into verbal commitments, then well again be talking about the program having a chance to sign one of the nations top-tier classes.

As for the CFP part of the inquiry, that would likely help the Class of 2022 and beyond more than the Class of 2021.

@mattmiller_2 asks: How much money would you throw at a quality offensive coordinator?

As much as it takes.

James Franklin is fond of saying that small increases in many areas can help take the Lions to the top, and thats true, and also applies to the coordinator positions.

Looking at how the market has already gone this offseason, its looking likely that something around $1 million will be the required base salary to lure a top option, and make no mistake: PSU wants one of those.

@bigknuterockne asks: Do you think Rahne leaving might open the door for Shorter to return? Do you think it will impact any players decision to stay or go?

I dont think so. I think the players had much more respect and appreciation for the job Rahne did than many fans do and did, and the ones that didnt probably were displeased with other things that would still cause them to leave if they were going to, with or without Rahne around.

As for Shorter specifically, his camp has been quiet publically but is surely weighing all of the options behind the scenes before making a decision. Its still difficult to see him coming back considering he entered the transfer portal a week before the regular season ended.

@AZSoup16 asks: How will Franklin get to 85 scholarships?

The same way they always do: Unexpected attrition.

You can bet that the Lions have been working under the assumption that Will Fries and Michal Menet would probably return, and they likely felt Pat Freiermuth would be back.

That said, they also know some guys we arent expecting will either head to the NFL early or hit the transfer portal. Id say its amazing that those numbers always work themselves out, but weve seen them do it with relative ease time and time again.

@a_redding7 asks: How soon will a new OC be named?

James Franklin has shown a tendency to want to wrap these decisions up quickly, but this is an important hire, and the December signing period is an obstacle he didnt deal with in the past.

My gut says if a hire isnt made by the Friday after Signing Day (Dec. 20), then one wont be made until early January once the team is back from the Cotton Bowl.

@mcsjudo asks: Will hiring of a new OC affect current recruiting class?

Nope. I expect Penn States offensive scheme to stay more or less the same, though the new guy will surely have some tweaks in mind. A good rule of thumb is that, if guys dont start leaving as soon as the coach does, then the program is probably safe.

@wirewalker630 asks: Where is Nick Tarburton. No one has ever answered that question.

Hes still on the roster, but I have no update otherwise.

WeAreToTheTop asks: Whatever happened to the phantom UVA return trip to Penn State that was to happen in 2013?

We are nearing the annual rite of passage at the bowl site: Asking Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour this very question. Stay tuned!

@pacatfan asks: Do you think this team will show up for the Cotton Bowl, or will they lack motivation as in last years bowl game?

This is a pretty hungry team, and unlike last year, some key decisions have already been made. The month of rest will do them good, and the young stars on this roster will stress how important a bowl win is after many of them tasted defeat for the duration of the offseason. I expect the Lions to come to play in the Cotton Bowl.

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Will Ricky Rahne leaving impact Penn State recruiting, and will the offense change? Cotton Bowl motivation, m - PennLive

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December 14th, 2019 at 10:42 pm

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