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Road Warriors, Position Battles and the Surprise of Camp: Takeaways From James Franklin’s Weekly Presser

Photo by Penn State Athletics: James Franklin

The obvious highlight of James Franklin’s first weekly press conference of 2022 was announcing Drew Allar as the team’s backup quarterback for Week 1.

We discussed that earlier, and here are some other notes from Franklin’s session.

ON THE ROAD *SIGH* AGAIN

In Franklin’s opening statement, he mentioned that Penn State has almost always had its Big Ten opener on the road.

“One of the interesting things that I’ve talked about a lot, but I want to hit it one more time, is Penn State will open Big Ten action on the road, not only for the seventh straight season but the 12th time in 13 years. So I wanted to kind of reinforce that.

He didn’t say much about the matter, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Franklin isn’t happy about Penn State always starting conference play on the road. 

‘FATMAN’ AND THE FIVE-STAR’ 

Aside from Allar, another five-star 2022 signee, running back Nick Singleton, is Penn State’s most hyped freshman. 

Unsurprisingly, Singleton has flashed his skills through spring and summer practices. 

“It’s pretty well-documented that Nick is big and strong and fast and has a chance to go 80 yards at any point in the game,” Franklin said.

Not far behind Singleton in terms of the hype is another running back signee, four-star Kaytron Allen. 

Franklin called the IMG Academy product the “surprise of training camp.”

“A little bit of a different style (running back) than Nick, but both big, strong, powerful backs that can make you miss and break tackles.” 

Along with sophomore Keyvone Lee and junior Devyn Ford— who is also expected to be Penn State’s No. 1 kick returner– Franklin is excited about his running game that drew criticism throughout the 2021 season.

‘STARTER REPS’

Defensive end Chop Robinson and offensive lineman Hunter Nourzad both arrived on Penn State’s campus over the summer. 

Robinson transferred in after a season at Maryland and from Maryland, and Nourzad came to Penn State after four seasons at Cornell.

It’s unclear if and when they’ll become regular starters at their respective positions, but Franklin made it known that both will see significant playing time right away. 

“I would say both of those guys, whether they’re starters or not, will play starter reps,” Franklin said. “Right now, we look at Hunter being able to play both guards and center. We probably won’t ask him to do all those things in Game 1, but he will play. Our plan is to play him starter reps at both guards.”

POSITION BATTLE UPDATES

Over the course of his press conference, Franklin gave updates on where Penn State stands at these positions. 

Punter: As expected, Barney Amor, who received a scholarship last week presented by a guy named Eli Manning, will be Penn State’s starting punter. 

Amor transferred in before last year after four seasons at Colgate and will be filling the shoes of 2021 Big Ten Punter of the Year Jordan Stout.

Kicker: Jake Pinegar will take Stout’s place as the team’s placekicker. 

Kickoff duties, Franklin said, will rotate between Sander Sahaydak and Gabe Nwosu.

MIKE linebacker: In another non-surprise, Franklin said Tyler Elsdon will be the team’s starting MIKE linebacker. He also said Kobe King will see significant time at that position. 

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