With starters still to be determined, Penn State’s depth is flaunted at media day

Story posted August 6, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Amanda Vogt

Penn State held its media day on Sunday as its Sept. 2 season-opener against West Virginia quickly approaches.

The media gathered in Beaver Stadium for James Franklin’s press conference, followed by open Q&A’s with coordinators Stacy Collins, Manny Diaz and Mike Yurcich.

Franklin immediately tuned out all the outside news and noise surrounding the Big Ten to truly focus on Penn State itself, and the talk of the town is depth, depth, depth.

“I think we have had a really good offseason from winter workouts to spring ball to summer training,” Franklin said. “We are bigger, stronger, faster than we’ve been [and] I think we got a little bit more mature team, and that plays a role in it.”

With training camp in its early stages, positions are still undecided, starters have yet to be named and competition is brewing.

Having Collins and Diaz in their second year with the program, and Yurcich in his third, is a factor that allows the team to build on last year’s Rose Bowl success and aim higher.

“At the end of the day, [Yurcich and I] have the same goal in terms of the category we want to lead the nation in. We want to lead the nation in wins,” Diaz said. “Right now, we’re learning who we are, sort of in our independent silos, trying to get our guys as good as they can be.”

Part of that learning process at the start of camp is identifying those depth charts, which was a large discussion of Sunday’s press conferences.

In terms of winning those starting spots, Franklin noted most, if not all, the positions on the roster are three-deep.

“I think we got more competition at the specialist positions than we’ve had in the past,” Franklin said. “I think the stability of the staff, the depth, those things are good, and I think they typically lead to giving yourself a chance to be successful.”

Collins, the Special teams coordinator, credits the strength and conditioning staff for the team’s increase in speed and believes that contributes to the depth of the Nittany Lions.

“There’s been a lot of situational things that were going to put these guys in throughout camp,” Collins said. “It’s a group that’s getting a lot of reps. A lot of fundamental technique reps right now.”

In terms of practicing with three-deep, Franklin clarified what that looks like:

“Having a three deep across the board allows you to develop your entire roster when you feel like you’ve got legitimate guys to put out there, both physically and mentally, also impacts your practice.”

The offensive and defensive “threes” are equally developed this season which has limited sloppiness, and they “are able to go out and operate,” which Franklin called “invaluable” to what the team has worked on since the start of camp.

Overall, the work the team put in through the beginning of the summer is something that quarterback Drew Allar believes will benefit Penn State through the season.

“It’s going to help us on the field just getting through tough physical situations and breaking away when we need to,” Allar said.

Those strength and conditioning numbers are some of the highest and fastest times recorded in Penn State’s history, according to Allar.

Now it will be time for the Nittany Lions to show that newfound depth, development and power in just 27 days when West Virginia comes to Happy Valley to kick off the 2023 football season.

Amanda Vogt is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, please email amandaevogt@gmail.com