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Franklin on spring practice: ‘Excitement based on potential’

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James Franklin meets with the media ahead of the Lions' first practice of the spring. - Audrey Snyder / DKPS

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The holes on Penn State's football depth chart are glaring, and there's no running back walking through the door built quite like Saquon Barkley.

"We need to replace Saquon Barkley with the running backs that we have,"James Franklin said Monday at Beaver Stadium ahead of the Nittany Lions' first of 15 spring practices. "And when I talk about 'replace Saquon,' I talk about his production, but replace it with the group of running backs that we have; but also with the growth of the offensive line and the development of our tight ends."

There also isn't a tight end on the roster with the experience of NFL-bound standout Mike Gesicki, or three defensive tackles ready to step up after Parker Cothren, Curtis Cothran and Tyrell Chavis are all out of eligibility. Middle linebacker Jason Cabinda is gone and so are mainstays in the secondary like corners Grant Haley and Christian Campbell, plus starting safeties Marcus Allen and Troy Apke. Such is life during spring football, a time for all programs to figure out what they have and what they don't, all while inching closer to kickoff of the 2018 season.

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