Penn State’s James Franklin talks Lions’ depth: The development of Cam Brown and Garrett Taylor plus the No. 3 QB battle
Penn State looks primed to be a major player in the Big Ten in 2017 if the Lions can stay healthy at the right spots.
James Franklin’s team is deep at most positions and the personnel losses from 2016 are minimal.
But with PSU’s Blue-White game looming Saturday at Beaver Stadium, there are plenty of minor issues and questions that Franklin and his coaches are still sorting out.
Here are three:
Cam Brown’s development at outside linebacker.
Brown, a sophomore, played out of necessity last season with PSU dealing with injuries at the linebacker spot. His biggest contribution was a blocked punt against Ohio State.
Franklin and the defensive coaches know they have a long-term impact player in Brown, a 6-5, 224-pounder. But will he fill a key role on the defense in 2017 with the Lions searching for a third linebacker?
“(Brown) came out and had a good spring,” Franklin said, also noting Brown’s progress during the winter conditioning period.
“I thought he was going to take a bigger step. But I do think he’s got an opportunity now to go back and watch the film, take some of the comments from the coaches and be able to make a big jump and put it all together.”
The battle for the third QB spot.
So it’s Trace McSorley, then Tommy Stevens, then … who?
Jake Zembiec, a sophomore on scholarship, would seem to be the obvious choice. But Franklin said that isn’t the case.
A couple of walk-ons are still in the running for the No. 3 spot, including Camp Hill grad Michael Shuster.
“I think the other thing for me and (offensive coordinator) Joe (Moorhead) was figuring out who the third quarterback is,” said Franklin.
“And I don’t know if we feel that yet. And that’s no disrespect to the guys that we’ve got.
“I think (Jake) Zembiec and (Michael) Shuster and (Billy) Fessler have done a nice job for us but still think those guys have got to take another step for us to feel like we have three quarterbacks that we can win with.”
The development of defensive back Garrett Taylor.
Taylor was a four-star corner recruit in Franklin’s 2015 class. But he has yet to play significant snaps and now is positioned at safety. The 6-0, 200-pounder has some ground to make up.
“To be honest with you, I think he’s right on schedule,” Franklin said of Taylor.
“He was a highly touted guy (in recruiting) but what’s happening now is we have a bunch of highly touted guys.”
Franklin added: “I think he’s in the right position right now. … He’s going to have the ability to impact our program and make an impact on the field quicker at safety, I think it fits him more long-term. He’s had a really nice spring for us.”
What’s the history of the Blue-White game?