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Penn State Football: Seven Freshmen Green Lit For Immediate Impact

by on August 28, 2018 2:55 PM

Penn State fans can expect to see at least seven freshmen taking meaningful snaps this season according to James Franklin. Headlined by linebacker Micah Parsons, Franklin and his staff are preparing for two offensive players, three defensive players and two kickers to contribute in key roles this year straight out of high school.

Of course the total might be more, a new NCAA rule now allows for freshmen to play up to four games while still being eligible to redshirt that season, essentially saving a year of eligibility for players on the fringe, a year or two from much more meaningful snaps.

According to Franklin the plan will be using some of those younger players for two games early in the year and then save their other two eligibility-free games for down the road in case of injury somewhere up the depth chart.

But for these seven freshmen, they've all been given a green light, ready to play from day one all the way into December. This is what Franklin has said about all of them so far this camp. (Freshman receive Justin Shorter is injured per Franklin. Unknown timetable for return.)

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TE Pat Freiermuth:

"I do think Freiermuth can factor in partly because of how talented he is and how poised he's been through this process, but also that he's 258, if not 260 pounds, and I think that helps the physical aspect of the game."

DT PJ Mustipher:

"He's a high-energy, high-motor guy, which usually doesn't happen with guys that are 6-4 and 300 pounds. I think that helps him. I think if you have a motor on the defensive line, that can solve a lot of issues for you, and he goes hard."

"You talk to players during summer workouts, conditioning tests, he's crushing it. He came in with that. I think it helps that his dad played college football. I think it helps that his brother is the captain of Notre Dame Football. He's been around football his whole life. His dad played a big role in training him, not only in the weight room but also out on the field, so he came in pretty far along and came in with a really good mentality, as well."

LB Micah Parsons:

"I feel like they're mature guys. Jesse and Micah have both been working since they got here (early enrollees in January). They've worked hard and came in with freakishly athletic bodies and those guys can move at the level that some guys can't still, that are older then them. That's what's putting them a little bit ahead."

LB Jesse Luketa:

“I think Cam Brown looks good, really good,” Franklin said. “I think Jan Johnson looks good. Koa Farmer looks good. I think Jesse Luketa is making a move, getting here a semester early for him has been really beneficial. I think Jarvis (Miller) is finally getting comfortable at the position and playing to his strengths. And, obviously, Micah has done some pretty impressive things.”

Jake Pinegar (Field goals) and Rafael Checa (Kickoffs): 

"The first thing I would say, this is the most competition we've had, and if you ask any of our players that, they will tell you the same thing. It's the most competition we've had at the kicker position since we've been here, not even close."

"We really feel like that Pinegar, Hilling, Tobin, Checa, could all kick in a game for us, whether that was kickoff or field goal, and be able to do it at a fairly high level. So the competition at practice has been really good, so I think that helps."

RB Ricky Slade: 

Franklin hasn't talked, or hasn't been asked about Slade this summer, but the talented prospect enters the season formerly rated the top running back in his recruiting class. With only Miles Sanders and Mark Allen ahead of him, it's not hard to see Slade getting his fair share of carries along the way.



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