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Franklin impresses in homecoming

One of Neshaminy High School's favorite sons paid his alma mater a visit Thursday.

Franklin was busy in familiar territory on the first day after the dead period.

Penn State football coach James Franklin made brief stops at several schools in and around Philadelphia, including the school in Langhorne, Pa., where he began his football career.

Tom Magdelinskas, the athletic director at Neshaminy High School, said Franklin, accompanied by new Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, paid the school a quick 15-20 minute visit, and that the community had already been buzzing about the Nittany Lions' newest leader.

"You couldn't even go out and grab a sandwich somewhere without having someone talk about Franklin coming home to Pennsylvania," he said Friday. "It was folks that you didn't even think had an interest in the game of football are dialed in now and waiting to see what kind of job James can do with this position."

Magdelinskas was Franklin's head coach in junior high and later became an assistant coach on the varsity staff when Franklin entered high school.

"Simply put, he was a football nut from the word go," Magdelinskas said.

Franklin wanted to be a receiver or running back as an eighth-grader, Magdelinskas recalled, but the coaches realized by the first or second practice that his skills were needed at the quarterback position. Neshaminy was a wishbone team during Franklin's freshman and sophomore seasons but made a gradual transition to a pro-style offense by the time he was a senior.

Franklin's football savvy -- and his quick feet -- allowed him to adapt, as did his desire to improve.

"If you asked him to do it, he did it," Magdelinskas said. "If it required one hour in the film room breaking down the old VHS tapes or three hours, he was that person who put that time in. His goal was to win. He wasn't a clock-watcher. He was going to work until it was done."

Magdelinskas believes Franklin's knowledge of the region in which he grew up, and its football landscape, will go a long way in helping him achieve his announced goal of establishing recruiting dominance in the state.

"He knows what makes our kids tick down here and he also knows what kind of football we play down here," Magdelinskas said. "District One football is outstanding football; all you need to do is look at the state finals the past several years. James is going to be able to connect with those kids knowing full well what they've gone through, what kind of preparation they've received here at Neshaminy or any of the other schools in the area.

"To a certain extent, he's going to know what he's buying, so to speak, and the kids are also gonna know he's walked in their shoes at some point."

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