Penn State Football: 'Be Ready To Contribute' Franklin Tells Incoming Freshman
How far things have come.
Joe Paterno was famous for his stance on playing freshman. While more of them saw the field under Paterno than perhaps one might have thought, it wouldn't be innacurate to say it was far from common.
In a perfect world it made sense. Freshman are only a few months removed from high school which not only means they're dealing with plenty of social changes in their lives, they're dealing with physical ones as well.
After all, the guy lined up across from them very well may be five years older and 30 pounds bigger.
But under Bill O'Brien that changed.
The change was largely a necessary one. With scholarship restrictions and defections at every turn it was all hands on deck. As much as O'Brien would have liked to see kids get a year to workout and learn the game at a higher level it just wasn't an option. So a number of freshman saw the field and plenty more were mentally preparing themselves to play.
These problems haven't changed under Penn State's new head coach James Franklin. In many respects they have only increased as depth and experience has become a rare asset across the board at almost every position. As a result, Franklin is already telling incoming freshman that they should be ready to contribute as soon as they hit campus.
"We're going to have to play a lot of freshmen," Franklin said. "I typically would prefer not to do that, but I already have been direct-messaging these guys and telling them they need to come in with the mentality that they're going to play."
"Right now, there's not a whole lot we can do to solve the issues. We moved some guys, but some positions are hard to solve with what we currently have on the roster, so that's where the recruits will help."
Fortunately for Franklin, there is plenty of talent headed to Happy Valley this summer. Unfortunately for Franklin the depth issues can be found all over the roster as well. From receiver to offensive line, from linebacker to punter, there is plenty of room and lots of opportunity for players young and old to step up.
And if Penn State is going to stay competitive in 2014, Franklin will need his players do just that.