Prior to last week, T.J. Greenstone and most of his Vanderbilt teammates had never heard of James Franklin.
After a press conference last Friday, though, Greenstone and the Commodores are more than impressed with their new head football coach.
“He was very well-spoken and seems like he was very focused on the future,” said Greenstone, a junior defensive tackle. “He has this attitude of all-in. With all the pieces coming together, I really like what I heard and what I saw. After I got to meet him afterwards, we’re really excited about this upcoming season.”
Greenstone actually met with Franklin on Saturday morning before the Vanderbilt captain left campus for Christmas break. He said not much was discussed beyond how the team was doing and plans over the break.
Franklin hasn’t had much of a break since getting to Nashville last week. The 38-year-old said on Friday that he planned to contact Vanderbilt’s current recruiting commitments and make sure they were on the same page. He didn’t have much time to do that as a recruiting dead period began Monday and continues until Jan. 3.
Monday he was in meetings was not available for comment. There hasn’t been official news on Franklin’s coaching staff but it appears things are already in motion.
A Kansas State athletics department spokesperson confirmed Monday that tight ends coach Ricky Rahne has resigned and will not coach in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 30 when Kansas State plays Syracuse. Rahne coached the running backs when Franklin was the offensive coordinator for Kansas State in 2006-07.
Both Greenstone and Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith said they don’t know who from Robbie Caldwell’s coaching staff will be retained. Smith said he would like to see offensive line coach Herb Hand and defensive ends coach Mike Pelton stick around, especially since they are both in their first year at Vanderbilt.
Greenstone and Smith, however, know those decisions aren’t up to them.
“It is his coaching staff,” Greenstone said. “It is who he has to go into battle with. I have confidence in him and I think he’ll put together a good one.”
Smith, unlike Greenstone, wasn’t at the press conference last Friday and hasn’t met with Franklin. However, like Greenstone, Smith is pleased with what he has heard from Franklin so far.
“He seemed like a pretty good guy,” Smith said. “He was full of energy and really enthusiastic about the upcoming season, getting in there this offseason and getting everything rolling. ... Hopefully this change will be the best for us and the program as a whole.”
That remains to be seen but the mood at Vanderbilt — at least for now — has changed.
“I think the university is showing signs of commitment like they’ve have said and definitely showing signs of improvement in that area,” Greenstone said. “I think we have the kind of players to be that kind of team. That is what excites me is that we have the talent. It is time to put everything together now so we can become the team that we can be.”