Penn State spring practice takeaways: James Franklin on Lamont Wade’s position switch, the team’s top athlete, more
Penn State second-year defensive back Lamont Wade, right, shown here with Saquon Barkley, is moving from corner to safety this season. Joe Hermitt | firstname.lastname@example.org
STATE COLLEGE — Penn State’s football program kicks off spring practice with a late-afternoon Monday workout. Nittany Lions coach James Franklin met with the media earlier today to discuss the state of the 2018 team. Here are my key takeaways from Franklin’s chat.
Veteran Nick Scott is going to be the leader of the safety group. The Lions replace starters Marcus Allen and Troy Apke and there is some question as to who will fill the void. It sure sounds like Scott, a former running back, is going to be one of the guys. James Franklin referenced testing numbers from winter conditioning and the guy at the top of the testing list was Scott, who likely is the best athlete on the team.
Sophomore Lamont Wade has a new home, safety, and it may be a better fit. “We really feel good about the depth we have at corner,” said Franklin, noting that Lions are replacing starting corners Christian Campbell and Grant Haley. PSU also has promising Tariq Castro-Fields entering his second year. But Wade, a physical player and a former corner, should be able to help the Lions at safety right away and he can also handle the slot corner position. “He’s put together,” Franklin said of the 5-9, 196-pound Wade. “He’ll hit you.”
The Micah Parsons era at Penn State could not have gotten off to a better start. Parsons, the blue-chip recruit from Harrisburg High School, was a winter conditioning standout as a January enrollee and he will work at middle linebacker in the spring. Franklin referenced the fact that Parsons committed to Penn State early, then decommitted last spring before signing in December. It was a roller-coaster ride for Franklin and his assistants. But Parsons is as good as advertised. “I haven’t heard one person question the roller-coaster (ride) since (Parsons) showed up on campus,” Franklin said.
Spring concerns? How about four to start? Franklin mentioned the need to build the two-deep depth chart at middle linebacker and at defensive tackle. PSU is replacing middle linebacker Jason Cabinda and top backup Brandon Smith. The Lions also lose starting tackles Curtis Cothran and Parker Cothren. Franklin said the coaching staff must also identify a field goal kicker and a kickoff specialist.
Penn State’s offensive line depth is legit, according to Franklin. As in, the Lions can field a legit two-deep at each spot and the backups are good enough to win games, Franklin said. Two names to remember are tackle Alex Gellerstedt, a hard worker who has made steady progress, and Michal Menet. Menet was the blue-chip player in PSU’s 2016 class and he can help PSU at guard or center this season. “There’s a lot of excitement about (Menet) right now,” Franklin said.
Penn State coach James Franklin on Micah Parsons ‘roller coaster recruitment