Penn State moves another true freshman linebacker: Nick Tarburton now working at defensive end
Penn State head coach James Franklin instructs Nick Tarburton during spring practice in Holuba Hall on April 4, 2018. Tarburton has been moved from linebacker to defensive end. Joe Hermitt | firstname.lastname@example.org
STATE COLLEGE — James Franklin made it clear Monday night that the middle linebacker competition at Penn State is spirited, and still a bit jumbled.
“For me,” Penn State’s football coach said after a practice inside Holuba Hall, “the picture hasn’t cleared up yet.”
But you can subtract another name from the race — true freshman Nick Tarburton.
Tarburton, a prep standout from Pennridge High, has joined the defensive line group. He’s essentially grown out of the linebacker position and is working with the ends.
Earlier this spring, Franklin and Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry opted to move Harrisburg High star Micah Parsons from middle linebacker to weak-side linebacker.
So when taking in Saturday’s Blue-White scrimmage at Beaver Stadium, expect to see the 6-3 Tarburton much closer to the line of scrimmage.
“To be honest with you, that’s how we recruited (Tarburton),” Franklin said.
“Literally, the day we offered him, we offered him telling him, his mom, his dad, that we were offering him as a big athlete, and that we would give him a chance at linebacker, (or) he could end up being a defensive lineman as well. So that’s where it started.
“And then it progressed when he showed up and stepped on the scale at 263 pounds when he showed up,” Franklin continued. “So that wasn’t really me telling him that, that was genetics.”
Penn State football practice, April 16, 2018
Gallery: Penn State football practice, April 16, 2018
Tarburton did lose some weight during winter conditioning drills and Franklin said he could still make an impact at linebacker. But his body is best suited for Sean Spencer’s D-line.
“He really did some nice things and I think he could play linebacker here,” Franklin said.
“But I think his greatest potential, here at Penn State and down the road, is at defensive end. He’s already done some nice things for us there.”
Penn State’s James Franklin on freshman Nick Tarburton playing defensive end