The 2017 season for Penn State football ended with a Fiesta Bowl victory over Washington, concluding an 11-2 campaign.
The Nittany Lions went 7-2 in Big Ten play and did not compete in the Big Ten Championship. The 2018 season for coach James Franklin’s group will be an extremely talented one, but with some newer faces leading the charge.
QB Trace McSorley is still the man taking snaps, but play-makers such as RB Saquon Barkley, WR DaeSean Hamilton and TE Mike Gesicki have moved on to the NFL. Defensively, guys like DB Grant Haley and LB Jason Cabinda will also be missed.
Penn State’s spring football practices are set to begin on Monday, with the Blue-White spring game taking place on April 21.
Prior to spring practices beginning, Franklin talked with the media.
What James Franklin said at spring football press conference
On mid-year enrollees: “Probably a lot further ahead than what I anticipated they would be [mentally and physically]. The group has already changed their body tremendously.”
On LB situation: “We’ve got to find a two-deep at middle linebacker. I think that’s a critical question going into the spring. A two-deep we can win with.”
On why Lamont Wade moved to safety: “A big part of it is our depth at cornerback… those guys have played a lot of football for us… We feel really good about the depth we’re creating at cornerback, we have a few more questions at safety. Lamont [Wade] is a football player… [safety] plays to his strength.”
On Micah Parsons: “We think he’s got a chance [at middle linebacker]… But he’s never played the position. So far, so good. I remember during the recruiting process, some players were like ‘Coach, why are we putting up this this?’ … I haven’t had one player question the roller-coaster [recruitment] since he showed up on campus.”
On Jonathan Thomas: “[Running back] Jonathan Thomas could be kind of like the Troy Apke deal, where he stepped in as a senior and played really well.”
On opposing teams’ mindset playing Penn State: “I think in years past, you said we’re not going to allow Saquon Barkley to beat us. I think now people are going to go into the approach where they say, we are not going to allow Trace McSorley to beat us.”
On the DT position: “We’re excited about what Robert [Windsor] and Kevin [Givens] bring to the table.”
Franklin mentions Antonio Shelton has really made a push, too.
On Saquon Barkley’s NFL Combine experience: [On Barkley standards] “I think Saquon had a very average combine and he finished No. 1 across the board… His numbers were solid but I think he event thought he would do a little bit better.”
Franklin anticipated Barkley may run a faster 40-yard dash time, and produce more bench press reps.
On Brandon Polk being atop the WR depth chart, replacing Hamilton: “He has an unbelievable opportunity [to solidify starting job] this spring.”
On replacing Gesicki:
Penn State has a lot of production to make up for at tight end. pic.twitter.com/4GyiWRTRme
— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) March 19, 2018