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Penn State Football: Defensive Ends Live Up To Hype In Spring Game

by on April 21, 2015 2:00 PM

College football coaches have been known to hype up their own players from time to time.

It's a rarity that a team ends spring practice with the head coach telling the media that his team is a sinking ship.

Sure, everyone has work left to do and nobody is claiming their team is perfect, but the negatives rarely drift much farther away than from a few honest truths. At least not in public.

Earlier this spring, James Franklin used a number of opportunities to praise his defensive ends -- who are replacing NFL hopefuls -- and there was reason to be skeptical. If nothing else, there was reason to wait and see it for yourself. 

And at the Blue White game on Saturday, Penn State's defensive ends lived up to the hype.

The three man tandem of Garrett Sickels, Carl Nassib and Torrence Brown all looked the part. All three made the most of a scrimmage that can often be unkind to anyone looking to rack up stats.

In fact, none of the three registered more than a tackle on the afternoon. Brown was the most active picking up the Blue team's only sack of the day. Nassib had two pass deflections -- one that he defended so casually it almost looked like he was King Kong swatting a plane out of the air.

Despite the lack of tangible statistics, they were all active across the field chasing down plays and creating issues in the backfield. They made the most of every chance against a second and third team offense that was off the field as quickly as it got on the field.

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So this round goes to Franklin. His praise was appropriate.

"I thought all spring our defensive ends played really well," Franklin said on Saturday. "I made a comment a couple of weeks ago that I didn’t think that would be a question mark anymore. I think that it is a little different on the defense than it is on the offensive line, especially on the defensive line."

Most of the guys we are talking about, Tarow Barney at defensive tackle, Parker Cothren at defensive tackle, [Garrett] Sickels at defensive end, [Evan] Schwan. All those guys played a decent amount and we are talking 30 reps a game. The fact that they are going from a number two or a number three that still played a lot and then we have a Torrence Brown I am really excited about as a redshirt guy.

"Carl Nassib, I am so proud of. We had the endowment banquet last night and Carl got up and spoke at it. We are talking about a guy who showed up here as a six-foot-five, 218-pound walk-on and now he is a six-foot-seven, 273 pounds, scholarship starting defensive end that I think is going to have a break-out year for us."

Nassib, especially seems to be the most interesting star-in-the-making to watch. He's just a little unhinged and plenty talented and that makes for a dangerous mixture on the defensive front.

Certainly success against Penn State's second team offensive line is far from the stiffest test the Nittany Lions will see this season.

But given the opportunity to look as sharp as advertised and Penn State's defensive ends did just that.

And that counts for something.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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