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Penn State Football: What To Know From James Franklin's Spring Press Conference

by on March 14, 2016 1:45 PM

James Franklin spoke to the media for just over 45 minutes on Monday as the Nittany Lions prepare for the start of spring practice this Friday. Here are five things to know.

Walk-On Power:

If you thought Carl Nassib's incredible rise as a former walk-on player was fun to watch, there might be another name to keep in mind this spring. Ryan Monk, a sophomore defensive tackle has caught James Franklin's eye during his time at Penn State. The Dallas, PA native weighs in at 6-foot-1 and 279 pounds.

"This Monk guy, I'm telling you, his work ethic, his attitude, his demeanor, is unbelievable," Franklin said on Monday. "I think he's a great example for our entire team. You get an opportunity, you take it and you run with it. He's great in the weight room, he was a pain to deal with on scout team. He is as driven and (as) motivated as any guy that I've been around.''

Position Changes:

While this spring doesn't have any major position changes of note, James Franklin did state that Curtis Cothran and Kevin Givens have switched from DE to DT while Nick Scott will switch sides of the ball from RB to CB. Cothran and Givens are moving largely for depth concerns while Scott's move is essentially the result of a deep running back unit and the emergence of Saquon Barkley. According to Franklin, Scott approached him about the switch.

Gains And Losses: 

As is often the case, winter workouts are a great opportunity for players to reshape their bodies and for many young players, take their first run through an offseason conditioning program. Here are a few notable weight gains, losses and transformation according to Franklin.

Saquon Barkley lost five pounds of fat gained 12 pounds of muscle.

Ryan Buchholz gained 10 pounds of muscle.

Christian Campbell gained 12 pounds of muscle.

Irvin Charles gained 16 pounds of muscle.

Alex Gellerstedt lost 13 points of fat gained 20 pounds of muscle.

Shareef Miller lost 14 pounds of fat and gained 17 pounds of muscle.

Brendan Mahon lost 20 pounds of fat, gained 20 pounds of muscle.

Antoine White lost 13 pounds of fat, gained 12 pounds of muscle.

Two Man Race:

While Penn State's quarterback competition is technically wide open, all accounts point to it being a two-man race in the early going between 2015 backup Trace McSorely and Tommy Stevens. Freshman Jake Zembiec is not far behind according to Franklin, but so far it's a two-man show to replace Christian Hackenberg. Franklin won't commit to a date to determine who will start. McSorely is likely the defacto leader in the clubhouse.

IQ Next For Barkley:

There is little doubt that Saquon Barkley has the physical tools to be one of the best running backs in the nation. So the question becomes what is next for the sophomore star. The answer, according to Franklin is between the ears.

"You know, I think it's the knowledge,'' Franklin said. "Physically, you look at his size and strength and speed numbers and there as good as anywhere in the country, in college or I would even say the NFL. His numbers are really good. He has the experience now. It's, how can we continue giving him the reps that he needs to grow and develop? How can we get the game to slow down for him so he can be aggressive and be decisive in his pass protection and things like that?''

Honorable mentions: 

  • Linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White will be limited in practice this spring as he continues to recover from a Week 1 knee injury. He will go head-to-head with fellow linebacker Jason Cabinda for the MLB spot.
  • Penn State starts high school coach "chalk talks" this Friday.
  • Barkley's 4.38, 40-yard dash is the average of six hand timers and two separate runs.

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