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Penn State football notebook: Depth raises concerns for Franklin

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 5:51 p.m.

UNIVERSITY PARK — Amid a crowded Holuba Hall, filled with visiting recruits and family members taking in the scene for Penn State's eighth spring practice, coach James Franklin stressed the importance of building immediate relationships with potential future Nittany Lions.

“As much as I love you,” Franklin said jokingly to reporters prior to rejoining the recruits, “I love them more.”

But before his time with the media contingent was up, Franklin also offered a dose of reality in evaluating the status of the team he's coached for nearly three months. Franklin said depth, especially on offense, stands out as a key concern heading into Penn State's Blue-White spring game April 12.

“I think we got really good football players and great kids here, but we just don't have enough of them. That's the reality of it,” Franklin said. “…On offense, we have some holes in the starting lineup. We really do. We're going to have to be creative and find ways to solve issues.”

Penn State's scholarship limitations were reduced in 2013, but the program will not return to a full 85-scholarship roster until 2016.

OL recruit commits

New Jersey offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez reportedly committed to play at Penn State.

Gonzalez, ranked a four-star recruit by rivals.com, chose Penn State from among a host of schools, including Big Ten members Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Crossing over

One way Franklin has attempted to mask depth issues is switching certain players' positions, such as redshirt sophomores Derek Dowrey and Brian Gaia. Franklin said he has been impressed with how the two former defensive linemen have handled the transition.

“I feel for them because we put them in a tough position. Two days before spring ball starts, I say, ‘Hey, you're offensive linemen. Go at it,' ” Franklin said.

John Stuetz is a freelance writer.

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