For weeks, Marcus Allen and Nick Scott have told themselves that a day like Saturday, when Penn State introduced James Franklin as its new head coach, would never happen. The rumors that began swirling last month about Bill O’Brien leaving Happy Valley to take over as the Houston Texans coach were negated in their mind by direct claims from O’Brien that he would stay put.
“I talked to him and he said he would be there for the classes he recruited, which included my class and the 2015 class, so I had no worries,” said Scott, who earned All-Met honors at Fairfax as a senior this past fall. “I thought the media was running away with it all, so I was pretty surprised when it happened.”
“I didn’t think much about it because Coach O’Brien told me he wasn’t going anywhere,” said Allen, a standout senior defensive back at Wise. “But then he told me he was looking into it and would do whatever was best for his family.”
But even when O’Brien decided to take the Texans job on Jan. 1, neither player harbored hard feelings. Scott said he received a call from O’Brien, which only increased his respect for the coach. And while Allen was looking forward to playing for both O’Brien and long-time Penn State assistant Larry Johnson, he saw the whole process as a teaching moment.
“You understand it’s a business and it reminded me of why I committed to Penn State,” said Allen, who pledged to the school in May. “I really liked the coaches, but I chose there because of the community and Penn State family, not because of one man. The school and its alumni have the tools to get you where you want to go in life.”
Both players said they came away impressed after watching Franklin’s introductory press conference and briefly speaking with him by phone over the weekend. Allen is also looking forward to the announcement of the team’s new defensive coordinator. Meantime, Scott noted how Franklin’s amiable personality could pay dividends for his leadership and future recruiting.
“I’ve fallen in love with him already,” said Scott, who could play either running back or defensive back at Penn State after totaling 2,223 yards and 20 touchdowns at Fairfax as a senior. “He’s funny. He can connect well with people. And I’ve seen some clips of him at Vanderbilt where he’s doing chest bumps with players and getting excited. That’s someone I know I’ll love being coached by and learning from.”
In related news, Allen said his recovery from season-ending surgery in September to repair torn ligaments in his ankle is “really coming along well.” He hasn’t been cleared to run yet but has been jogging, lifting weights and doing speed work in the pool. He’s expected to be full recovered by the summer, when he’ll join Scott and DeMatha senior running back Mark Allen at Penn State.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 12
Consecutive games won by the new number one team in The Post Top 20 boys’ basketball rankings. Click here to see this week’s rankings and here to vote for which team you think should be number one.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Another week, another installment of top plays. And with all the upsets and highlights from last week, this one should be good.
-Click here to see who made this week’s boys’ and girls’ basketball All-Met Watch.
-Chelsea Janes explores the growing trend of reclassification in high school basketball.
-Oakland Mills rode the strong play of Mamadou Ndiaye to hold off a late Atholton rally and win 78-71 in Monday Howard County action.
-Annandale continued its strong start with a buzzer-beating three-pointer against Lake Braddock last Friday. Or did it?
-Reservoir’s Zelor Massaquoi has been on a tear of late, twice scoring a career-high 32 points last week.
-Chantilly’s girls’ basketball team has entered the conversation of Conference 5 contenders after winning just nine games last year.
-Despite playing without top scorer Takalya Ellis, Gwynn Park’s girls’ basketball team has continued its dominance of the Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A scene.
-La Plata is shooting for its first winning season in three years behind the return of standout player Jordan Oakley.
-Flint Hill sits atop the MAC standings following a 4-0 start and an upset of Maret last week.
-Briar Woods and Broad Run are off to undefeated starts in the Virginia Conference 14 standings.
-Balanced scoring has helped Gaithersburg jump out to a 10-1 record after the first half of the season.
-The return of Shari Addison from injury has Wootton’s girls’ basketball team on a roll.
-Riverdale Baptist’s girls’ team showed its resolve in a win against then-No. 16 Stonewall Jackson over the weekend.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
Boys’ basketball: Wakefield (8-2) at No. 15 Edison (10-1), 7:30 p.m.
The host Eagles will put their 10-game win streak on the line when they face talented Virginia Conference 13 foe Wakefield in boys’ basketball action.