football Edit

James Franklin calls Penn State's 2021 secondary the best he's had at PSU

James Franklin isn't the type of coach to speak in absolutes very often, but the Penn State Nittany Lions football head man did exactly that speaking about his secondary on Thursday.

Delivering his opening statement at Big Ten football's preseason media days event in Indianapolis, Franklin made a strong statement of confidence in his defensive backfield.

"We probably have the best secondary that we have had," Franklin said.

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Penn State Nittany Lions football head coach James Franklin had high praise for his secondary at Big Ten Media Days.
Penn State Nittany Lions football head coach James Franklin had high praise for his secondary at Big Ten Media Days. (Greg Pickel)

The Nittany Lions bring back three of their four starters between cornerback and safety from 2020, losing only safety Lamont Wade.

Jaquan Brisker is widely considered to be one of the best-returning safeties in the country, and has garnered preseason All-American honors from a handful of media organizations.

Competing to start alongside him is longtime reliable backup Jonathan Sutherland, who has plenty of experience despite playing in a reserve role to this point in his Penn State career. Also factoring into that competition is Ji'Ayir Brown — a JuCo product who earned plenty of plaudits from his teammates and coaches this spring — and a handful of other younger options who will be looking to carve out playing time for themselves.

The corner position returns all of its major contributors from a season ago, and made some exciting acquisitions as well.

Penn State officially announced AJ Lytton as its sixth transfer addition of the offseason this week.

Lytton — a top-100 recruit out of high school — began his collegiate career with Florida State, then left the program before the 2020 season after starting one game over two years.

Lytton is listed with junior eligibility on Penn State's roster, and stands at 5-foot-11, 186 pounds.

He's not the only addition Penn State made at the cornerback spot this offseason. Johnny Dixon, a regular starter for South Carolina last season, joined the Nittany Lions as well.

Penn State now has some serious cornerback depth when one factors in Joey Porter Jr, who flashed during his redshirt freshman season, and true freshman Kalen King, who might have been the story of the spring for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State fans also got some good news from Tariq Castro-Fields, who missed all but three games with an injury, and elected to return rather than test the waters in the NFL.

His top priority this season is staying healthy, Castro-Fields said previously. But he's trying to approach every day with a clear mind rather than focusing on the threat of injury.

"I'm not thinking about it constantly," he said. "If you think about getting hurt, you're going to get hurt. I think you've just got to focus on the task at hand and play football. Injuries are a part of football. That's not really coming across my mind at all. I'm just ready to ball."

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