Penn State’s James Franklin discusses January enrollees’ progress, defensive tackle issues
Penn State head coach James Franklin talks with wide receiver Zack Kuntz during strength and conditioning on Feb. 28, 2018. Joe Hermitt | email@example.com
STATE COLLEGE — Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class is widely regarded as a special group because of its play on the football field.
The January enrollees’ work in the weight room this winter has also caught the attention of James Franklin.
Franklin, now entering his fifth season as the Lions’ head coach, addressed the efforts of a freshmen group that includes Harrisburg High grad Micah Parsons and Camp Hill’s Zack Kuntz.
“Real quick, kind of hit on some of the mid-semester guys,” Franklin said during his Monday afternoon press conference with the media to kick off PSU spring practice.
“They are doing a great job. Probably a lot further ahead than what I anticipated them to be. Stronger, more aggressive, more competitive than I anticipated, more mature than I anticipated.”
Kuntz is viewed as an impact tight end who could help the Lions in the near future. The same goes for Parsons, a terrific all-around athlete at Harrisburg who will work at middle linebacker this spring.
“Just a few examples: Zack Kuntz came in at 10.4-percent body fat and is now at 9-percent body fat,” Franklin said.
“Micah Parsons 9.5 (percent body fat) and stayed at 9.5.
“Nick Tarburton at 18.7-percent body fat and now is at 14.2-percent body fat. Luketa, 18.3-percent body fat now is at 14.9.
“Isaiah Humphries at 15.9-percent body fat and now is at 13.4-percent body fat. And Trent Gordon at 13-percent percent body fat is now at 10.1-percent body fat.”
Luketa and Tarburton are linebacker prospects and the trio of Parsons, Luketa and Tarburton has the Lions well-positioned for the future.
Humphries is a safety and Gordon is cornerback.
“So those guys have worked really hard,” Franklin said.
“The group has already changed their bodies dramatically.”
Franklin identified the middle linebacker position as a priority in terms of spring development with the Lions moving on from veterans Jason Cabinda and Brandon Smith.
He also mentioned defensive tackle as an area of potential concern in terms of depth, as PSU is replacing starters Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran.
“We have to find a two-deep at middle linebacker,” Franklin said.
“I think that’s a critical question going into the spring, two-deep that we can win with.
“We have to find a two-deep at D-tackle. We have a pretty good idea with what we have with (Kevin) Givens and (Robert) Windsor. But we have to find a two-and-a-half to three-deep at defensive tackle.”
Penn State coach James Franklin on Micah Parsons ‘roller coaster recruitment