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Report: Pair of Penn State Legends to Testify in Former PSU Doctor’s Trial

Photo by Matt Lynch, Nittany Sports Now: James Franklin leads the Nittany Lions out of the tunnel ahead of the blue white game.

Penn State football coach James Franklin is in the news this week.

May is a time when college football coaches would probably generally prefer to have their names out of the headlines. This week has been a good example of that.

Earlier this week, a former Penn State football doctor has claimed that Franklin has tried to interfere with the decision making of team trainers and doctors.

The doctor is Pete Seidenberg. Seidenberg’s testimony was part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of another doctor, Scott Lynch, who claims that Penn State athletics fired him after multiple disputes between him and Franklin.

Now, arguably the two most popular players of Franklin’s decade-long tenure in Happy Valley have reportedly been called to testify in Lynch’s trial.

“Saquon and Trace just want to speak their truth,” defense attorney Sarah Bouchard told Dauphin County Court Judge Andrew Dowling, per PennLive. “This directly impacts them.”

Saquon, of course, is Saquon Barkley, and Trace, equally obvious, is Trace McSorley.

Barkley was a central figure in Penn State’s most recent Big Ten championship season— the only one of Franklin’s tenure. In 2016, he ran for 1,496 yards (5.5 YPC) and 18 touchdowns, helping Penn State to an 11-2 record and Rose Bowl berth. After the 2017 season, Barkley moved on to the NFL.

McSorley was the quarterback of that 2016 team.

McSorley was the QB of that Penn State team. Over his three seasons as the starter, he became one of the most popular players in school history. He was the team’s starting quarterback from 2016-18. He broke multiple school records including for touchdowns and passing yards. Both of these records were surpassed by McSorley’s successor, Sean Clifford.

Per PennLive, the pair will be called by the defense to discuss how Franklin handled their injuries throughout their respective college football careers.

Both appearances are scheduled for Tuesday.

PennLive reported that defense attorney Sara Bouchard said that one of the players would appear in-person, the other planning to testify via video. Bouchard didn’t say which one would do which.

Per PennLive, Lynch’s team is against Barkley and McSorley testifying. It argues that their testimonys would lack in relevancy to the case.

Previously, Lynch testified about how Franklin handled a variety of injuries.

In October 2015, during his true freshman season, Barkley suffered a high-ankle sprain.

A previous testimony claimed Franklin pressured the team’s medical and training staffs to get Barkley back on the field despite the injury.

Barkley ended up missing Penn State’s games against Army and Indiana.

For McSorley, a previous testimony detailed an injury the QB suffered during his last college game, the 2019 Citrus Bowl against Kentucky.

McSorley hurt his foot. Penn State’s training and medical staff cleared him to return, but left the final decision up to McSorley, who decided to come back.

The testimony described Franklin as thrilled with McSorley decision and used him as an example for the rest of the team, “as if advocating that players should play hurt,” PennLive wrote.

When Lynch’s lawsuit became public in Aug. 2019, Barkley and McSorley defended him.

“I personally wanted to get back on the field as fast as I could,” Barkley told NJ Advance Media’s Matt Lombardo. “And play as fast as I could. James Franklin was awesome for me. I tried to force it and he just wouldn’t allow me force it. I sat out the next two weeks and was able to come out and be healthy the rest of the season.”

With everything being said about Coach Franklin and how he has handled injuries in the past, I feel obligated to share my experiences,” McSorley wrote. “When I injured my knee against Iowa, I never once felt pressured to go back in the game by Coach Franklin. He continually checked on me and how I felt, even telling me not to push it. That message continued throughout the week, as we prepared for our next game.”

Barkley also said that Franklin was supportive during his Oct. 2015 injury, and McSorley said he wasn’t pressured to return to the 2019 Citrus Bowl.

PennLive reported that Lynch’s attorneys hope Barkley and McSorley’s testimonies are strictly about their personal injuries, assuming Dowling allows them to take the stand. The defense, meanwhile, is hoping that the players also talk about Penn State’s culture and overall environment under Franklin.

 

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