football Edit

Franklin answers big questions ahead of Spring Practice

For the first time in nearly 300 days, media assembled in Beaver Stadium to hear from James Franklin on Monday ahead of the start of Spring Practice.

As always, Franklin was calculated and measured with what he did and didn't say, but both elements produced notable story lines as we head into what looks like the most important offseason for Franklin since 2016.

Below are some of the biggest notes and quotes from today's presser:

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QB1 is still QB1, and Franklin doesn't see that changing

Sean Clifford has become a controversial figure among many Penn State fans. When the sixth-year quarterback announced that he would be returning for another season, his fourth as the Nittany Lions' starter, opinions could not have been more divided. Particularly with the introduction of 2022 Rivals 100 four-star Drew Allar to the quarterback room.

Asked whether there's any situation where he could see Allar winning the job over Clifford, Franklin was pretty clear. The Penn State head coach said that it's hard for him to envision as situation where that happens, but that all the quarterbacks in the room embraced the competition. He also noted that staff and players try to avoid the noise coming from outside the program, but that it's harder in modern college football with social media.

The OL starters

Penn State's offensive line has been borderline disastrous at times over the last two years, and as such is expected to see a major overhaul headed into 2022. Frankln named the following group as his starters entering spring ball on Monday:

LT - Olu Fashanu

LG - Landon Tengwall

C - Juice Scruggs

RG - Saleem Wormley

RT - Caedan Wallace

Both Fashanu and Tengwall started in the bowl game against Arkansas and had up and down, though largely encouraging, performances. Scruggs and Wallace return as starters from 2021, while Wormley was set to be a starter a year ago before an injury cost him the entire season.

The group behind them is as follows: Jimmy Christ, JB Nelson, Nick Dawkins, Golden Israel-Achumba and Ibrahim Traore

Linebacker who?

Curtis Jacobs is the lone returning starter for the Nittany Lions at linebacker. He's set to move from the SAM to the WILL in 2022. Sophomore Kobe King and redshirt sophomore Tyler Elsdon appear set to compete for the middle linebacker job, while sixth-year senior Jonathan Sutherland will make the move to more of a box-safety position similar to the one often played by Marcus Allen. Franklin stated that he expected the team to play much more 4-2-5 personnel than in recent years.

Returning defensive lineman

Adisa Isaac and Hakeem Beamon both missed the 2022 season, the former due to injury and the latter due to issues away from the field. Both are back with the program and Franklin said he's excited for the potential each has. While Isaac isn't quite 100 percent yet, Franklin says they're working back toward that point and that he could be a difference maker in 2022. With Beamon, Franklin praised his improved maturity and said that there's a balance between that and making sure he continues to take care of all that's necessary to be back with the team.

Leftovers

- Transfer portal addition Mitchell Tinsley has been a big addition to the wide receiver room and quarterbacks have been effusive in their praise for him over the last couple months.

- PSU letterman Danny Rocco is back with the program in a support role

- Freshman DT Zane Durant has impressed early and reminds the staff of Kevin Givens

- DE Zuriah Fisher continues to learn the intricacies of the position, but he's been impressive physically over the offseason.

- Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich has been as critical as anyone of the offense last year. Getting the run game going is a huge point of emphasis for both he and Franklin and they believe that will open up explosive plays in the play action and RPO game.

- The running game improvements have to go beyond the OL and TE blocking and to the running backs breaking tackles and making defenders miss.

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