Franklin big on Eagles picks Matthews, Spear

Franklin big on Eagles picks Matthews, Spear
May 14, 2014, 2:00 pm

New Penn State coach James Franklin coached both Casey Spear and Jordan Matthews at Vanderbilt. 

New Penn State head coach James Franklin's ties to the Philadelphia area are now stronger thanks to last weekend's NFL draft.

The Eagles took Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews in the second round and then signed undrafted Commodore teammate kicker Carey Spear, both Franklin proteges.

"I've got a man-crush on Jordan Matthews," Franklin said Tuesday night in a sit-down interview with Comcast SportsNet's Derrick Gunn while on the Philadelphia leg of his Penn State Coaches Caravan tour. "I love that guy."

Matthews clocks in at 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, and holds the SEC record for career receptions (262) and receiving yards in a single season (3,759) in his three and a half years at Vanderbilt.

"I think the thing about him more than anything is he wants to be the best wideout," Franklin said. "Although now he's happy to be in the NFL, he won't be happy with that until he's the best guy in the NFL."

Matthews ran a 4.46 in the combine, faster than expected, and Franklin notes that he has "great ball skills" with "tremendous hands" and "the longest arm reach of any receiver at the combine."

Franklin also spoke highly of Matthews' attitude, calling him "one of the most charismatic, articulate guys you're going to be around."

"Now he's got the mentality, and that's what it really comes down to," Franklin said. "It's your heart, it's your desire, it's your drive. He's got the tools. That's why he was taken in the second round.

"What I love is he's got the other characteristics that allow guys to be successful."

On the other side of the ball, the nickname "Murderleg" is one Eagles fans should get accustomed to when talking about Spear.

"This is the first time I've ever heard about his nickname, to be honest," Franklin said of the affectionate yet terrifying pet name Spear carries because of his tendency to make big hits on receivers after his kickoffs.

"Not only will he kick, but he'll run down and cover and light guys up. I'm a huge fan of Carey Spear."

Franklin advised Eagles fans to check out more of his hits on YouTube, such as the monster hit on a Tennessee returner linked above.

On Penn State's status as a football team, Franklin said, "The Saturdays will take care of themselves."

"I believe you wake up every single morning and you be the best you can possibly be -- academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually," he said. "That's just kind of how we're living."

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