James Franklin met with the media by Zoom after practice Wednesday and discussed several topics. This is a look at the most important things the coach said.
1: The team’s vaccination rate is high, but Franklin said there probably will be a few players who will not get vaccinated.
“I’m not going to get into the exact percentages, but we’re pretty high,” he said. “I think there’s a handful of guys left that, I think probably get a few that may do it, and there’s a few that probably will not. And for me, it is a personal decision. I’m trying to educate them as much as I possibly can through our doctors and trainers … and then also making sure everybody understands based on the rules the consequences of our decisions.
“I won’t be happy until we’re 100 percent. I don’t know if we’ll get there because there’s just a couple guys that, for a variety of reasons, may not be comfortable or their families may not be comfortable,” the coach added.”
2: The running back rotation will be three guys.
Penn State is loaded at running back, with Noah Cain, Keyvone Lee, Devyn Ford and Baylor transfer John Lovett. Will all of them play?
“I think we have one of the stronger running back rooms in the country,” Franklin said.
But, one guy will be out of the mix, it seems.
“We want to play three backs. I think it’s hard to play four,” Franklin said. “You better have a fourth ready because one of those three will get dinged up, and then it will just go to a three-man rotation with that new guy in there.”
How will the coaches come up with the top three?
“We’re going a couple of live scrimmages, which will help us kind of determine that,” Franklin said.
From this view, it seems pretty obvious at this stage that the three-man rotation ultimately will include Cain, Lee and Lovett, leaving Ford as the odd-man out to start. It would be a big surprise if Cain is not the starter, while Lee was impressive last year as a true freshman, and Lovett has a lot of experience.
Still, don’t discount the possibility of Ford playing some this year, as well, because as Franklin said, at some point one of the other three will get dinged up.
3: Franklin is “super proud” of safety Jaquan Brisker.
He may have only been a third-team all-Big Ten selection last year, but those inside the Penn State program know how valuable and productive Jaquan Brisker can be. Brisker decided to return for another season, and now he’s getting a lot of praise heading into the season.
“I’m super proud of him,” Franklin said. “I think you guys all know he could have left last year, and came back for a number of reasons, and never really has looked back. He’s had his best three semesters in a row now academically. He doesn’t even have to take a full load of classes this fall to graduate, which is the ideal situation you’d like for all of your seniors, to be able to go under 12 credits which is what the NCAA allows you to do if they’re the last credit you have to take the graduate. So he’s on schedule to do that as well. I’m really proud of him. He’s been a great leader and with the younger players.”
Additionally, Franklin said he feels really good about the safety position this season.
“It’s a really good competition,” he said. “I think we’ll be in a position where we’ll have four safeties that will feel good about.”