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Penn State Football: Key Quotes From Franklin Presser

by on January 21, 2017 12:10 PM

James Franklin spoke to the media on Saturday morning about the Nittany Lions' 2016 season and a few housekeeping items as the program heads into the offseason.

With no real surprises it wasn't a headline making press conference, but there were plenty of little details to take away. Here are five of the key quotes from Saturday's interview session.

Q. A lot of national publications, media, whatever, outlets, have kind of put you guys in the top five or ten for next season, and I was wondering, coming off the Rose Bowl, do you expect your team to be hungrier because of what happened at the end of the game, or are there concerns about them being satisfied with what they accomplished last year?

Yeah, I think we've discussed this before. I think handling success with young people in general is a challenge. You know, are we going to be as driven? Are we going to be as motivated as we were this year? That's going to be the secret. Are we going to work as hard for our chemistry? Are we going to be able to work as hard for our culture? Are we going to be able to work as hard collectively and individually to get where we want to be?

Last year's success, although it factors into how people rank you for the next year, has no effect. That ranking means little to nothing. End-of-the-year rankings are what matter. I do think we had some experiences last year that are going to be motivating factors for us moving forward. Certain games where we didn't play as well as we should have played, having conversations about whether we made -- would be in the playoffs or not, being that close and not getting in is a motivator. How the bowl game ended is a motivator. So there's things out there, and there's only really one team that's happy at the end of the season.

You know, I went around all over the country -- last week one day I was in Alabama, one day I was in California, yesterday I was in Michigan. You know, and I got everybody coming up to me saying, wow, Coach, best bowl game I've ever seen. Unbelievable. I said, it wasn't that darned good. You know, I understand from an entertainment standpoint it was awesome, but we didn't win the game.

We have things that we should be very proud of, and our guys, they should be confidence-building experiences, but we also have things that I think should be motivating, that, again, the way I look at it, there's one happy team at the end of the year, and that's Clemson and my boy Dabo. Everybody else is salty and angry and ready to get back to work again. And we've got a lot of work that we still need to do in every area possible. I can guarantee you with the leadership on our team and the coaches on our team, we'll have a long discussion about that as soon as recruiting is over, and who we want to be and where we want to go and what sacrifices are we willing to do to get there.

Q. What do you think Noah Beh took away from his season last year, and do you expect him to contribute moving forward?

Yeah, we'll see. We'll see how these things play out. I think every guy's situation is different, and how they handle those situations, you know, I think -- what we want is we want all these situations that happened for our guys to be opportunities for growth, and I think as coaches, if we handle that way and the players handle it that way, then they learn from it, they grow, they move forward, they move on, and they're better for it and we're better for it, all of us.

To me that's up to all of us. That's up to me as the head coach to handle that way, to look at anything that happens in life as an opportunity to grow and learn from, and it's up to these young people to do the same thing. The most important thing is are we looking back four to five years from now, are we looking back 15 to 20 years from now when we have the anniversary of the Big Ten Championship game and these guys all come back, and we're laughing about some of the bumps in the roads and the hiccups that they had as freshmen and sophomores and things like that.

You know, where are they now? And as we all know, we're where we are today because of every experience that we have along the way growing up. That's kind of how we look at all these things.

Q. You had mentioned numbers and conversations and those kinds of things. Gray-shirting, that's a phrase we've kind of heard about, talked about. Is that something you anticipate doing with any of the '17 guys?

At this point -- I've done gray-shirting in the past. We have not done it yet here at Penn State. I do think it happens at places like Penn State because you're going to have some young guys that say to themselves, I want to be at Penn State, and I'm willing to turn down some other opportunities to take a gray-shirt opportunity at Penn State.

I think where that really comes in is it's hard to get to the 85 scholarships, and it creates a little bit of flexibility, because again, you don't truly know what your numbers are until the last minute, before camp starts. So it creates a little bit of flexibility, and it's a conversation that happens between a high school coach and a young man and his family. So we haven't done it yet, but it's been a conversation about the possibility of it. We don't have any of those conversations going on right now, but it could come up at some point.

Q. You mentioned a little bit earlier about early enrollees and the benefit of having them here. What's Lamont Wade's acclimation period been like so far and how do you plan on easing him in since you have the time?

Yeah, and now that you've asked that question, I probably didn't answer the question about his impact, and I apologize. I don't really like to kind of go that route. These guys have enough pressure on them from a lot of different perspectives, based on how highly they were recruited and those types of things. As we know, once they show up on campus, all those things go away. It's not like because you're a five-star or four-star or three-star guy you're going to get more playing time because of it or you're going to get higher grades because of it. You're going to have to come and you're going to have to earn everything you get.

I do think from the feedback I've gotten from the players, as well as the strength staff, is they seem to be doing well, the academic staff. But again, I've been gone. I haven't seen Addy Shola until Friday. I leave Sunday and I come back Friday each week.

I've got a meeting with the mid-semester guys today just to check in on them and see how they're doing. I've texted them and called them and things like that, but I haven't seen them. So I'm going to have a meeting with all four of those guys today and just sit down and just make sure they are doing well and they're adjusting well, but the feedback I get from Todd Kulka, our academic advisor, they seem to be doing really well. The feedback that I get from Dwight Galt, the strength staff, they seem to be doing well. Tim Bream and his staff, Will Flaherty, who runs our player development, is very hands-on with our guys in the adjustment process, they seem to be doing well.

I also think that's the reason why you see football staffs being as big as they are is because, like I said, there's times of year where we're gone, and there needs to be people in place to support these guys.

Q. Antoine White said he plans to transfer. Are there any other guys you're not expecting to be here for spring ball?

Yeah, there's ongoing discussions with a number of guys. What I mean by that, I'm talking about the whole program, so there's some walk-on guys that are going to decide whether they're going to come back for their last year or going to move on for internships or student teaching and those types of things.

For the scholarship guys, we pretty much had anticipated -- I think that's why the first question was about the number of scholarships. I think a lot of times you guys try to kind of predict how many we're going to sign based on what you see on the roster, but there's 15 conversations that are going on with parents and kids about transferring.

I think these guys that have decided to move on, we wish them all the success in the world. I think a lot of it deals with they look at the roster, they look at what's returning, they look at what their role is going to be next year, and are they going to be happy with that role or do they want a more significant role or whatever it may be, but there's a lot of conversations going on behind the scenes that we're aware of that allow us to make some of these decisions about how many we're going to be able to take, because you guys know it's fluid. What guys do you think are going to be able to leave early and guys are going to make that decision. Like I said, we're probably in conversation with about seven different guys in our program, and we're trying to anticipate who we think is going to come out based off of all the information that we have and what's going to come back.

It about came out what we thought, that we'd probably lose two. I thought maybe there was a chance of four, but it ended up being two, and I'm pleased for that.

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