PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Will Fries’ Redshirt Situation Has James Franklin In A Bind

The Nittany Lions have reached an interesting point in their season. As one of the youngest teams in college football, they’ve far exceeded preseason expectations to reach No. 10 in the College Football Playoff Poll. With games against Rutgers and Michigan State standing between them and a potential Big Ten title shot, the unthinkable has slowly become reality.

But Penn State has an offensive line problem — and no, it’s quite different than the issue that’s plagued the program over the last few years. The issue is depth, and the cause is the injury bug. The Lions have lost starters Andrew Nelson for the year and Brendan Mahon in the last month, but saw freshman Connor McGovern go down along with senior starter Paris Palmer for an undisclosed amount of time. Against Indiana, redshirt freshman guard Ryan Bates slid to left tackle while Chasz Wright manned the opposite side. Fellow redshirt freshman guard Steven Gonzalez took over at Bates’ vacant position and held his own. That leaves true freshman Will Fries as the team’s best reserve tackle, but the matter becomes further complicated. James Franklin has raved about Fries in recent weeks, but stands firm in his decision to keep his redshirt untouched. This choice has presented quite the dilemma for the Lions.

Against Indiana, current starter Chasz Wright showed some promise, but struggled mightily against blitzes from the edge. Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen effectively disguised blitzes and did whatever else he needed to do to keep Trace McSorley’s pocket pressured and tight. Expect Rutgers and Michigan State to do much of the same, which is why it’s time to give the freshman a shot.

As a recruit, the four-star Fries fielded offers from just about every major program in the country. He sent the likes of Michigan, Clemson, and Wisconsin all packing to sign on with the Nittany Lions as one of the 2016 class’ most coveted offensive line prospects. But, if he’s going to potentially have an impact in a major game like the Big Ten Championship — and possibly beyond — he’s going to need in-game experience, which leaves Franklin with a difficult decision. Does he keep Fries sidelined to preserve an extra year of eligibility? Or does he play him now to put his team in the best spot to win, like Ole Miss did with its young quarterback Shea Patterson last week?

Time is running out for Franklin to make his choice. If he’s going to commit, allowing Fries to get snaps under his belt against Rutgers — a team the Lions should handle with ease — would be the best way to start. He’ll face much tougher competition in Michigan State in the regular season finale if he were to compete, meaning he’d have two games of action if all falls into place and the Lions are sent to Indianapolis to face likely Big Ten West champion Wisconsin.

Franklin’s remained adamant that he won’t be pulling Fries’ redshirt over the past few weeks, but circumstance may force his hand. The freshman might wind up being forced into action if Penn State’s linemen continue to fall at such a staggering rate. My money is on Fries making an appearance sooner rather than later.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]


More by David

So Long, And Goodnight: David Abruzzese’s Senior Column

It’s been a hell of a ride, folks. Senior staffer David Abruzzese rides off into the sunset with his senior column.

Saquon Barkley Mum On NFL Future; Relishes Fiesta Bowl Opportunity

DOTD: Nittany Lion Catches Pass At Fiesta Bowl


North Dakota Interested In Playing Against Penn State Hockey In Nashville

North Dakota is working towards an agreement that will see its hockey team play against Penn State in Nashville during the 2020-21 season.

Former Cal Swimmer Says She Emailed Sandy Barbour About Sexual Harassment Claims

Max Sauve Commits To Penn State Hockey

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Penn State Hoops Alumnus Joonas Suotamo’s Journey To Becoming Chewbacca Featured On ESPN’s ‘E:60’

Student Life

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Career Services To Launch Integrated Career Management & Recruiting Platform

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

State Theatre Recognized As A State College Historic Site

As it approaches the 80th anniversary of its opening, the State Theatre has been recognized as a State College historic site.

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Send this to a friend