Franklin Seeking Out Standout Players, Yurcich Impressed with Allar’s Upside

Story posted March 30, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Jack McCune

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The fifth session of spring practice on Wednesday concluded with Penn State head coach James Franklin addressing the media for the first time since last Monday after the first session.

Franklin addressed the media with just two players still out on the outdoor practice field at Holuba Hall – veteran quarterback Sean Clifford and early enrollee Drew Allar, who were side-by-side tossing a football with staff members.

When it was offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s turn to speak after the head coach, early enrollee Beau Pribula made an appearance alongside Clifford and Allar to run the same drill.

Yurcich said the reps for the three signal callers along with Christian Veilleux have been mostly even since spring practice began, and he wants it to stay that way before fall camp.

“That’s the hard part,” Yurcich said. “Giving everybody enough reps to give him a good evaluation [and] to make sure that your depth chart is where it needs to be.”

Franklin said he likes to find those players who “stick out” during the spring before he assesses his roster, using redshirt freshman Zakee Wheatley as an example, who he turned from a cornerback into a safety this offseason.

“It’s the guys that there’s a buzz about from the players and the coaches,” Franklin said. “They just kind of keep jumping out and making plays physically, but also, they’re able to keep up with it mentally.”

Franklin mentioned he’s taking advantage of technology to keep up with players over Zoom so their mental preparedness keeps up with their physical attributes.

Yurcich wants to bring the same type of preparation to the running back room. After his offense was unable to produce a rusher with over 100 yards in a game last season, he’s prepared for a vast improvement in the run game.

“We’re going to execute it better. We’re going to coach it better. We’re going to play better,” Yurcich said. “I think it’s very accurate [that] we have to run the football better. We’re committed to it. We will,” Yurchich said.

The offensive coordinator said he can’t give a full analysis on both Allar and Pribula just yet, but he did say that he’s impressed with the two 18-year-olds and understands what he needs to coach to implement them into his system.

“They’re very far along because of how they were groomed in high school,” Yurcich said. “Our systems are different from their [high school] systems. … Just getting the verbiage down, being under center at times, being able to have the direct protections. … All those things are probably the biggest areas of growth right now for us.”

Yurcich added that while he’s expected to be the starter, Clifford enjoys the competition and hasn’t changed his competitiveness or preparation with the circumstances.

Allar and Pribula are not available to the media, as Franklin and his staff don’t allow players to be interviewed until they are in their second season with the program.


Jack McCune is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email