Franklin as Penn State looks to replace kicker Julius: ‘We love Joe, we support Joe’
CHICAGO — Penn State coach James Franklin would not say whether his program or kicker Joey Julius initiated the latter’s departure from the team heading into the 2017 season, but it’s clear that his former head coach still supports him.
Franklin was asked about the Lower Dauphin product and kickoff specialist during his morning media scrum at Big Ten Media Days here a day after Penn State released its 2017 roster sans Julius.
“Obviously I’m not going to get into the specifics of this because it’s a delicate situation, but for us, the most important thing for us is the health and welfare of our players, and making sure they are in a really good place,” Franklin said.
“We love Joe, we support Joe, and he has been a huge part of our program, will continue to be.”
It was not clear how Julius will continue to be a part of the program. He tweeted on Tuesday that he’s “in full recovery” and no longer in St. Louis, where he’s been at least twice to help battle a multi-year eating disorder he first shared details about publicly last offseason.
Julius was not with the Nittany Lions all spring as he underwent treatment, and he missed last offseason, as well, but did handle kickoff duties for the team during their Big Ten title run in 2016.
How they will replace him is the next question that must be answered, and Franklin isn’t sure what the answer is with camp set to start in just a few days.
The options are clear, though: It’ll be either placement kicker Tyler Davis, redshirt freshman kicker Alex Barbir, or punter Blake Gillikin.
Penn State kicker Joey Julius talks about his eating disorder
“You got Tyler, who I think would really like to do it,” Franklin said. “I think Tyler has some aspirations of wanting to kick in the NFL someday, so being able to do both would be important to him. He has the ability to do that.
“Blake Gillikin, he did all three in high school, punt, kickoff, and field goal, and was pretty good at it, and then obviously we got Alex Barbir, so there’s some options there as well. We’ll see how this thing plays out.”
It’s one of two special teams issues the program must solve between now and its opener with Akron on the first Saturday in September, so expect it to be a talking point throughout August.
“It’s not ideal; we had a really good situation where we had one of the better kick off guys in the country, one of the better punters in the country, and one of the better field goal guys in the country, and I think when you limit how many things they have to do, it’s helpful, so we’ll just see how this kind of plays out,” Franklin said.
“We have to solve our kick off guy, we have to solve our long snapper situation.”
Penn State coach James Franklin talks Joey Julius’ departure from the program