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James Franklin Offers Position Battle Updates Ahead Of Purdue

At his press conference on Monday, Penn State football head coach James Franklin fielded many a question about his team’s upcoming Thursday night battle with Purdue.

In addition to explaining some of the week’s points of emphasis and engaging in a fair amount of self-admitted coachspeak, Franklin offered a number of updates on some of the team’s most hotly contested position battles.

Here’s how some of competitions have shaken out:

Quarterback

Alright, it’s the elephant in the room. True freshman Drew Allar was officially named the backup quarterback for the Nittany Lions’ week one matchup against Purdue, and fans are hyped.

While there was never doubt about who would start under center for Penn State, the hype behind the Class of 2022’s No. 1-ranked quarterback was palpable. An unconvincing showing at the 2022 Blue-White Game led to doubts about his status on the depth chart.

The situation is still seen as fluid by Penn State’s coaches, but the fact that Allar won the backup job, even temporarily, is a consequential sign of the quarterback room’s current atmosphere, and a promising sign for Allar and Penn State’s future.

Middle Linebacker

With multiple departures from the linebacker unit, LBU will uncharacteristically enter 2022 as a question mark. Curtis Jacobs is set to return and Jonathan Sutherland has already been announced as a new permanent linebacker, leaving the middle linebacker spot open.

At his press conference, Franklin announced that sophomore Tyler Elsdon will begin the year starting over redshirt freshman Kobe King, his biggest competitor.

Echoing defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s media day comments about depth, Franklin made specific mention of multiple players on both sides of the ball. The head coach said there are multiple guys who will get starter-level reps, regardless of whether they’re named an official starter or not.

Keeping in line with that thinking, King is expected to receive significant playing time in relief of the other linebackers.

Field Goal Kicker

Franklin also announced that redshirt senior Jake Pinegar will be the team’s field goal kicker for the 2022 season.

Pinegar made 35 starts at placekicker between his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons. Jordan Stout’s eventual emergence led to a distance-based split on field goals between the two specialists. After fully losing the job to Stout, Pinegar took a redshirt last season and only appeared in two games.

In his career, Pinegar has a 72.5% field goal percentage, making 37 of his 51 attempts. Pinegar also boasts a 96.5% extra point conversion percentage, missing just five of his 143 career attempts.

Punter

A three-way competition for the starting punter job has come to its conclusion. Franklin announced sixth-year senior Barney Amor earned the nod.

Last week, Amor was placed on full scholarship during a visit at practice from Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning. After transferring from Colgate last season, Amor sat behind Stout for a season.

Amor beat out true freshman Alex Bacchetta and 6’6″, 276-pound Gabe Nwosu for the role. Bacchetta was ranked as the No. 1 punter in the nation by Kohl’s Kicking before joining the Nittany Lions’ Class of 2022.

Kickoff Specialist

There still remains little clarity on the kickoff specialist competition. Franklin said the position battle is still ongoing.

With Pinegar’s power being a longstanding concern, Franklin and special teams coordinator Stacy Collins hacw opted for a dual-headed kickoff unit. Nwosu and kicker Sander Sahaydak, both redshirt freshmen, will rotate kickoffs, at least at the beginning of the season.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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