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News and Notes From Penn State’s Week One Press Conference

James Franklin and a trio of PSU players met with assembled media on Tuesday as the season quickly approaches.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Conference Media Days Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

For the first of many times this season, James Franklin sat and met with assembled media on Tuesday for his weekly press conference.

Among the topics at hand were, unsurprisingly, position battles, how Penn State was preparing for its week one game at Wisconsin, how new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich was fitting in and, of course, what the Nittany Lions’ week one depth chart will look like.

Here are some of the takeaways from Franklin’s week one presser.

  • Penn State, in keeping up with a number of other Big Ten schools, will no longer provide weekly depth charts.
  • Harvard transfer Eric Wilson is set to split time with Anthony Whigan at the vacant left guard spot to begin the season.
  • Ta’Quan Roberson has solidified his spot at the backup quarterback and the staff is happy with his progression.
  • Jahan Dotson, Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith seem to have locked down the starting spots at wide receiver, but Franklin expects Cam Sullivan-Brown and Daniel George to play big roles as well.
  • Jesse Luketa will continue to split time between linebacker and defensive end, something Franklin feels will continue throughout the season.
  • The staff has liked the way linebacker Curtis Jacobs operates in space and feel he can be a play maker on defense.
  • Mike Yurcich has a good feel for when to be aggressive and when to pull back on the reins when it comes to play calling.
  • Yurcich and defensive coordinator Brent Pry are competitive in practice, as are the other position coaches.
  • Position coaches usually handle discussions about starting spots, and some will have players rank themselves against their peers at their position. Franklin says the ranking is often in line with what the coaches see.

In addition to Franklin, Penn State captains Rasheed Walker and Jordan Stout met with media, as well at preseason All-American Jahan Dotson. Here’s just some of what they had to say.

  • Walker says Wilson has made a significant transition physically since coming to campus in the summer.
  • He also believes Wilson and Whigan are both more than capable at left guard, with the latter having improved his fundamentals greatly in the last year.
  • Both Walker and Dotson said that this year’s team is as close-knit as any they’ve ever been on.
  • Walker says Temple transfer defensive end Arnold Ebiketie moves as well as any end in the conference.
  • Jesse Luketa is a perfectionist. Walker says the pair take extra reps after each practice and Luketa is learning to use his body.
  • Dotson says guys like KJ Hamler have pushed him to become a better player. Says that he still doesn’t live down being caught from behind against Minnesota in 2019.
  • KeAndre Lamber-Smith has impressed in the offseason. Dotson expects him to take a big step forward in 2021.
  • Dotson is excited about the opportunity to return punts.
  • Sean Clifford has become a better decision-maker. Dotson says he believes there is less weighing him down.
  • Jordan Stout says he’s not sure if he’s earned the punting job and that he believes the coaches have yet to decide.
  • Calls the PSU specialist room “one of the most mature rooms in specialist history.”
  • Stout said he does better with fans in the stands, says the adrenaline adds to his power.
  • Like Dotson, Walker, Stout says it’s by far the closest team he’s been a part of in college.
  • Stout praises freshman kicker Sander Sahaydak, says he “is gonna be a stud.” Sahaydak has also added significant weight already.
  • According to Stout, Jaquan Brisker has become one of the biggest voices on the team.
  • Stout adds that while he wasn’t around with Walker as a freshman, what he’s heard Walker has come a long way and “evolved a lot” in the maturity department.