Franklin; Penn State freshmen ‘advanced’

JAMES FRANKLIN, Wednesday after practice. - JARROD PRUGAR / DKPS

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State training camp is less than a week old and it's the freshmen who've made the strongest impression so far according to James Franklin.

"This freshman class in general is really doing well and really advanced," Franklin said following practice Tuesday night at the Lasch Complex. "It doesn't seem too big for them."

It should be no surprise the players who Franklin has brought into the program, such as linebackers Micah Parsons and Jesse Luketa, are making an impression as this most recent class was ranked No. 6 nationally by 247Sports. And it's not just Franklin or the other members of the coaching staff noticing but also their new teammates.

"Watching these guys is impressive, I don't think we have any young guys who don't have the ability to play here," senior safety Nick Scott said. "It's impressive to watch and it's been consistent. We've always brought in a lot of talent."

Scott has a front row seat to watch freshmen receivers Justin Shorter and Jahan Dotson work their magic against a stout Penn State secondary each day in practice. The work Dotson has done in the early going of camp has caught the eye of Franklin.

"A guy there's a lot of buzz in our program about is Jahan Dotson," Franklin said. "A very natural, fluid guy, the game comes easy to him. Nothing seems too big for him. He never gets rattled."

The talent has been coming to Happy Valley in waves recently and even more talent is on the way for the Nittany Lions as  currently 16 members of the Class of 2019 have made verbal commitments to Franklin and company.

"Coach Franklin, he can recruit. It's no secret," Scott said. "He's always brought in a lot of athletes here."

For now though, it's all about the guys in camp and how they continue to grow as camp progresses and games begin.

"In general this freshmen class, they're much more aggressive, they're much more competitive, and that's not a knock on other classes," Franklin said. "Right now, a large percentage of them are competing at a very high level."

More from the availability ...

From Franklin:

• On the tight end competition: "I think Jonathan Holland's really doing some nice things. He's had a really good offseason and spring, he's built on it. Obviously, I'm not ready to make any announcements or things like that. Nick Bowers is doing some nice things. Danny Dalton is doing some nice things, but I would say right now Holland has been the most consistent. I've been very pleased with his blocking, things like that. He's always been a guy who could make plays in the passing game, but he's really doing a good job for us in the run game."

• On freshman linebacker Jesse Luketa: "I think he's a mature, heady kid, and his life experience (enrolled in a boarding school to chase his dream of playing football) as well as graduating early has helped. He's doing a nice job for us. He's really changed his body, he's much more lean right now, quicker, his functional movements are really good. I'm pleased with him."

 On Connor McGovern and Michael Menet switching positions: "Michael Menet is doing extremely well. Right now, he's really helping us by the way he's playing at center with a lot of confidence, he's got tremendous athleticism. I actually think Connor (McGovern) moving to guard plays to his strengths a little bit as well. Obviously, that's still a battle going on, but right now I think we're getting pretty comfortable with Menet at center and Connor, who's a little bit bigger of a guy for us, at guard."

From safety Nick Scott:

• On being used in multiple different roles: "I think the biggest thing is my positive attitude. That's one of our core values and something I really, truly try to embody which plays into getting asked to do different roles. If it's for the benefit of the team, I don't have a problem doing it. That's really been my M.O. my who career here."

• On patience: "That's something that's really big for a lot of college athletes because you end up being a big star in your hometown and you come here and you sorta have to wait after guys who are older, learn your role. Patience is huge not just in football, but in life. You just have to understand that what you want to get done is going to require work and it's not always going to happen when you want it to happen, but if you approach it the right way, when you get the opportunity, you will be able to capitalize on it."

• On who he's been impressed by: "One guy I'm impressed with right now is in my own room, Lamont Wade. He's made the move to safety, he's comfortable in the position and he's making plays. Also, Tariq Castro-Fields has been pretty lock down these past couple of days.

From wide receiver Juwan Johnson:

• On his legacy at Penn State: "I'm not trying to be remembered as the guy who caught the Iowa pass. I'm trying to be remembered as that receiver from Penn State. I'm not trying to be remembered by one play, I'm trying to be remembered by plays."

• On being a mentor: "I'm kind of the old guy in the room. Me and DeAndre (Thompkins), we do a great job of trying to bring these young guys along, try to get their head on straight, and try to show them what our tradition is at wide receiver."

• On highly touted freshman receiver Justin Shorter: "Justin came in here, he was humble, ready to work trying to earn a spot. That's kinda what were trying to do, trying to instill that in him, to stay level headed."

From defensive backs coach Terry Smith:

• On the corner battle: "Obviously we've got John Reid back from injury, he's have a great start to camp. Amani Oruwariye, a second team All-Big Ten last year who's having a good start. Then there's some young guys, Tariq Castro-Fields is doing really well."

• On the safety battle: "Nick Scott is having a tremendous few days of camp. His leadership shows. he's the guy who's getting us all lined up. He's doing a great job of communicating. And that other spot, there's some other young guys again, Lamont Wade is one of the guys competing very well, Ayron Monroe is having a good start to camp. It's going to be interesting to see as we get more physical in practice which of those guys separate themselves."

• On depth: "I really feel like I have five or six guys who could go in a game and play and be a quality guy. At the safety position, we've got some young guys, the next man up mentality, it's their time to shine."

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