UNIVERSITY PARK, P.A.— The Rose Bowl is over, and Penn State coach James Franklin gave his first press conference since that night in Pasadena Tuesday in Happy Valley.
This February edition of “Tuesdays With James” highlights some of what Franklin had to say.
WALKING IN A WINTER WORKOUT LAND
Tuesday was the first of Penn State’s eight winter workout sessions. Penn State’s position coaches give out daily awards to players and post them on social media. So, it’s easy for people keep track how who is performing well.
What a debut! The #LBU Competitor of the Day for Workout #1 is @Tony_Rojas5 🏎️💨 pic.twitter.com/V2sM92wHO4
— Manny Diaz (@Coach_MannyDiaz) February 7, 2023
Workout #1 in the books! #OLoftheDay is . . . @caedanw! Way to attack the day, 79! #WeAre pic.twitter.com/LxuqprCkql
— Phil Trautwein (@CoachTrautFB) February 7, 2023
New kid on the block… competitor of the day is @MalikMcClain11!! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jcPkTc507g
— Marques Hagans (@coachmhagans) February 7, 2023
“I think you guys have probably seen a lot of the position posts by their position coaches this morning in terms of who was the competitor of the day and things like that,” Franklin said.
Franklin told reporters that this workout schedule will be different then in previous years. This is because of when the annual Blue-White Game is (April 15).
“We usually will try to come back from spring break and have one or two sessions to get the sinning out of them and then get into spring ball,”Franklin said, “but the way the calendar falls this year and when the spring game is, we’re not really able to do that. So, we’ll come back from spring break and get going right away.”
Storm Duck might be the greatest first name-last name combination in Penn State history.
But can he play?
Well, he was a second-team All-ACC performer at North Carolina. So, that speaks well for his ability.
Duck transferred to Penn State after the 2022 regular season, and his new coach spoke well of him Tuesday.
“You guys will get to know him,” Franklin said. “Storm is very business-like. You know, academically, we got an academic report this morning; he’s killing it.”
Franklin also spoke well of Malik McClain, a receiver who transferred in from Florida State last month.
“We’ve been fortunate (knocking on table) that the guys that have gotten from the transfer portal have been really good fits culturally. If you look the last couple of years, and so far, it looks to be the same way with these two guys. And that’s hearing from the academic staff, hearing from their peers, the players, as well as the strength staff, and then early indication, it’s just one day, but today was pretty good. And his testing numbers were really good in the baseline testing, as well.”
CLASS OF ‘22: THE ENCORE
Penn State’s 2022 recruiting class came in with high expectations. In Year 1, Penn State’s freshmen lived up to expectations, if not exceeded them.
So what’s to come for guys like QB Drew Allar, RB Nick Singleton and LB Abdul Carter in 2023?
James Franklin is hoping for good things but knows that things don’t always go as planned.
“Whenever those guys come in and play as true freshmen and take on prominent roles as true freshmen, you would think that in year two, that they will be able to take on even more of a prominent role and even more of an impactful role learning from the experience the year before and building on it,” Franklin said. “It’s not always the case.”
Whether players were stars in their first year, like Singleton, or more unsung contributors, like OL Drew Shelton or hardly played at all, Franklin hopes the sophomores-to-be will progress.
“We had a number of those guys that were able to have prominent roles as true freshmen whether they were starting or not,” he said, “and now hopefully, they can take the next step and be a dominant player in the Big Ten and on a national stage and then some of those guys that maybe didn’t have prominent roles but played, now hopefully they can take the next step as well. Then there will be some guys that we didn’t talk about a whole lot that from year one to year two, the light bulb will come on for and those guys will be interesting stories throughout the spring for us to talk about.”