James Franklin sat down for a post-signing day, pre-spring practice press conference with the esteemed media that cover Penn State.
Topics included recruiting, portal, and the beginning of winter workouts. As always, you can click here to check out the full transcript of what James had to say. Or, you can follow along below for some of the highlights.
Franklin mentioned the “traditional signing day” addition of Chimdy Onoh, noting that the four-star offensive lineman gives the Lions the versatility that they like in Phil Trautwein’s position room.
Meanwhile, winter workouts have started and Franklin talked a bit about what the schedule will look like in terms of those workouts, transitioning into spring practice, and even the timing of Spring Break on Penn State’s academic calendar. He used the term “get the sinning out of them” and I, for one, think this needs to be more common vernacular.
Lastly, James spoke a lot about the leadership that helped 2022 finish in a special way. He said it’s important to use workouts/spring to get that leadership properly aligned and ready to go with the 2023 team.
On the Portal
Franklin addressed a question about wide receiver and offensive line being two priority positions for the Lions to add pieces to in the offseason. First off, Franklin mentioned that there could be more shuffling with personnel around the country following spring ball. He then transitioned into talking about the hard work he’s seen so far from defensive back Storm Duck and wide receiver Malik McClain. They’re getting good grades and handling business. Franklin said how fortunate the program has been in dipping into the portal in order to get quality players who fit Penn State’s culture.
The last time we saw Penn State on the field, they were celebrating a win in the last traditional Rose Bowl. Turn on the Super Bowl on Sunday and Miles Sanders will be starting at running back for the Eagles. Franklin was asked about what those things mean for the program from a national perspective. He agreed that it’s been a positive, he credited Sanders for all of his work, and then he even talked about how the growing State College, PA airport has helped some with recruiting.
Clean Slate at Quarterback
It’s competition time at quarterback. Ok. Not really. Franklin flat said that based on how last year ended, Drew Allar would be the first one getting reps at QB for the Lions. However, he added that both Allar and redshirt freshman Beau Pribula will need to work to be leaders for Penn State.
Class of 2022 Review
Franklin was asked back-to-back questions about the development of the class that just completed its first season at Penn State. He noted that a good number of them wound up being productive players and that the class, as a whole, was maybe a bit better than initially anticipated. However, he mentioned that there’s still a lot of development ahead for the group.
Quarterback Portal Talk
In praising the talent of the quarterbacks in his program, Franklin did mention that the group doesn’t have as much experience as he’d prefer. Beyond that, James reiterated that at quarterback - and any position - he’d still be open to bringing in players via the portal that could improve the overall depth/talent.
A New Face
Franklin avoided any talk about why Taylor Stubblefield was let go, saying it wasn’t appropriate to discuss with the full media. He then went on to talk about Marques Hagans being hired, Hagans’s background with Anthony Poindexter, and how overall he decided that Hagans would be the best fit. He added that he felt Hagans could benefit from being at Penn State as it’s a chance to get out of his comfort zone. Later, Franklin did acknowledge that having some familiarity in Virginia would be a bonus as Hagans began recruiting for the Lions.
There was another question about the portal and wide receivers. Again, Franklin lauded the addition of McNeil and then moved to talking a bit about the kicking game and how they’ve added players through the portal who have experience kicking in games.
Franklin answered a question about bringing in outside groups, to talk about things like unionization, and how the team has handled those potentially divisive moments in the past. He said that being upfront with communication was helpful and that he felt his team grew closer together through such moments.
Lastly, Franklin was asked about the challenges of the new recruiting schedule coinciding with the soon-to-be expanded playoffs. One thing that Franklin closed with was the idea that the calendar has changed so much that he’s hopeful they can find some consistency.
Obviously Count: 19 - 17 by James