Fresh start for coach Franklin, players as Penn State camp opens
College Football Videos
It might have been taken as clichéd coachspeak when James Franklin said soon after taking the Penn State coaching job in January that all players were starting with a “clean slate” and that “there are no returning starters at any position — any position.”
Franklin — officially, at least — has backed up those words as preseason camp begins Monday in University Park.
When Penn State released its official “depth chart” late last month, players weren't listed in order of projected starters or by way of returning starters from last season. The so-called depth chart was merely a grouping of players by position, ranked entirely by class.
“I want the message to our players and everybody involved to be that you're going to have to come and compete and earn your job every single year and every single day,” Franklin said.
While examining a seniority-based depth chart reveals little about the projected makeup of the starting lineup and top rotation players for the Aug. 30 season opener against Central Florida in Dublin, Ireland, it does shed some light on just how inexperienced — by class — the Nittany Lions are.
A look at some of the telling — and, if you're a PSU fan, chilling — numbers:
• There are only two healthy seniors (by eligibility) on the entire offense.
• On defense, there are only four seniors who originally enrolled at Penn State on scholarship.
• Leaving out veteran left tackle Donovan Smith and accounting only for healthy players who are returning from last season, the class-by-eligibility at the top of the depth chart at the other four offensive line spots reads, from right to left: freshman, junior, freshman, freshman. Remember, the top of the depth chart is listed by class.
• Two of the three wide receiver positions (the “Z” and the “F”) have one sophomore at the top, followed by freshmen. (An aside: The eight players listed at the Z and F have zero combined career college receptions).
• After fifth-year senior Mike Hull, there are three scholarship sophomores and then only walk-ons and true freshmen among healthy linebackers.
• Despite arriving on campus less than 14 months ago, Christian Hackenberg is the lone quarterback on the team to have so much as jogged onto a college football field during a game.
It's easy to see how the NCAA sanctions of 2012 — with its scholarship restrictions and allowance for then-current players to transfer without penalty — are beginning to show, arguably, their grimmest effects this season.
“It's going to be very, very important to us to create depth throughout our roster and play as many guys as we possibly can,” Franklin said.
Franklin insists none of the incoming freshmen were promised immediate playing time while being recruited, but he does allow that they will be given a “legitimate chance to compete for a starting position ... or playing time.”
On the practice field Monday, they'll get their first formal chance to show they can earn it.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Officer reported wounded in New Florence
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Aliquippa wins 16th WPIAL title, ends South Fayette’s 44-game winning streak
- Gorman: Central’s Wheeler ‘made the play we needed’
- Steelers find success vs. NFC
- Man, 19, wounded in Brighton Heights shooting
- Penn State notebook: Franklin maps out plan to join Big Ten elite
- Four downs: Steelers might still be Adams’ best bet
- Batteries key to alternative energy’s success
- Drones hover at top of holiday wish lists
- WPIAL Class AA notes: South Fayette’s Saxton sets WPIAL finals record