Penn State’s spring drills concluded a little bit greater than every week in the past. Predicting the Nittany Lions’ place within the Huge Ten within the fall is a bit more sophisticated this season, given this system’s large personnel losses.
However James Franklin and his assistants know they’re working with some gifted gamers, younger and outdated. The checklist of confirmed vets contains security Ji’Ayir Brown, linebacker Curtis Jacobs, cornerback Joey Porter Jr., defensive deal with PJ Mustipher, quarterback Sean Clifford, offensive deal with Caedan Wallace and wideout Parker Washington.
Franklin additionally is aware of his staff has inquiries to reply earlier than Penn State’s season-opening Huge Ten street recreation at Purdue on Sept. 1.
In actual fact, Franklin talked about three of them shortly after the Blue-White recreation on April 23.
“The issues that leap out in my thoughts … who’s going to be the punter?” Franklin mentioned.
Jordan Stout was greater than the Lions’ punter. The kicking specialist additionally dealt with kickoff duties and served as Penn State’s major placekicker.
The Huge Ten’s prime punter averaged 46 yards per try and produced touchbacks on 59 of 65 makes an attempt a yr in the past.
Two prime contenders, Barney Amor and 6-6, 278-pound Gabriel Nwosu, noticed loads of reps and Franklin is happy for the arrival of freshman Alex Bacchetta in August.
“You understand after shedding possibly the perfect specialist within the nation, that’s an enormous query,” Franklin mentioned, referring to the punting job.
“Is it Barney (Amor), is it Gabe (Nwosu) or is it Mitch (Groh)? Or is it a very gifted man coming in, (Alex) Bacchetta?
“Speaking to (former PSU punter) Blake Gillikin, who I believe all of us had a ton of respect for, Blake says and he’s labored out with them. Blake says (Bacchetta is) the perfect freshman he’s ever seen. So, we’ll see how that performs out.”
Franklin is aware of there isn’t only one query the 2022 Penn State offensive line should reply. There are a number of questions. The 2021 line allowed 26 sacks and PSU averaged simply 3.2 yards per rush. The Lions are additionally changing three starters from that unit.
“Offensive line, you recognize, who’s going to interchange the fellows that left?” Franklin mentioned.
“And might we take a step the place you guys ask concerning the offensive line. I say one thing, after which we again it up?”
Proper deal with Caedan Wallace and heart Juice Scruggs are returning starters, with Scruggs transferring over from proper guard. The teaching employees has additionally been happy with new left deal with Olu Fashanu, Rasheed Walker’s alternative. The Lions should discover two beginning guards and that can be a precedence in August.
Penn State’s linebacker group is changing 2021 starters Brandon Smith and Ellis Brooks. Returning starter Curtis Jacobs, who is predicted to maneuver from the weak aspect to the sturdy aspect, has an opportunity to be one of many Huge Ten’s finest.
However the Lions nonetheless haven’t settled on a starter within the center. The competitors is between Tyler Elsdon and Kobe King, the dual brother of Penn State nook Kalen King.
“I believe the opposite query is linebacker,” Franklin mentioned.
“We misplaced some horsepower on the linebacker place. I believe we received a reasonably good concept who the 2 outdoors linebackers are, and we had nice competitors as ‘Mike’ (center) linebacker between Elsdon and Kobe.
“And I’d say because the employees and managers will in all probability inform you this, they in all probability did higher than we anticipated. So, we’re a little bit bit additional forward there than we thought.”