When James Franklin was introduced as the new football coach at Penn State, one of his first orders of business was to declare the Nittany Lions would “dominate the state” in recruiting.

He reaffirmed that commitment Saturday morning when he addressed the district representatives from the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association who were on hand at Penn State to finalize the Pennsylvania roster for the annual Big 33 Game.

Franklin played his high school football at Neshaminy before going on to star at East Stroudsburg University, so he has an idea of what high school football in the state is all about. Several of his assistants hired on staff also have ties to the state.

“The bottom line is that he wants to develop the best rapport with the high school coaches in the state,” said Steve Jervis, the head coach at Lackawanna Trail and one of the representatives from District 2 who was on hand to help select the team. “A lot of the coaches on his staff to the director of football operations all have ties to the region. He did a good job compiling his staff.”

Jervis said Franklin spoke with the high school coaches for about 20 minutes. The Penn State assistants all came in and introduced themselves as well. Jervis said Franklin made his message perfectly clear.

“Basically he said we are all in this together,” Jervis said. “He realizes there are a lot of good high schools and colleges in the state but there is only one Penn State. He wants to get the best players coming out of high school in Pennsylvania. He doesn’t want to lose those tough kids to other programs.”

Similar to Bill O’Brien, Franklin relayed on Saturday morning that he will have an open-door policy when it comes to the high school coaches in the state. They will be free to come and watch practices or just talk with any member of the staff.

“Without a doubt, he wants to do everything he could, not just for the players, but for the coaches,” Jervis said. “He said the high school coaches could come down and talk with any member of the staff. It will be an open-door policy.

“Coach O’Brien had a lot of the same goals, but I think the difference between him and coach Franklin is that James Franklin is a Pennsylvania kid. He has that much more pride in Pennsylvania football.”