Nittany Lions flex muscle in first week of camp

Penn State’s Zach Kuntz catches the ball during the practice portion of media day last week.

An enthusiastic James Franklin met with media members following Penn State’s practice Wednesday evening.

The Nittany Lions donned full pads for their fifth workout of fall camp, and their sixth-year coach was eager to give his impressions of the team’s start.

“Overall, I’m pleased,” Franklin said. “I knew we were fast. I knew we were athletic. I think our execution has been really good. I thought our coaches and our players did a really good job.

“We had a better plan of how to use the two hours (per week of film study) in the summer so we were able to get ahead on the installs (of plays).”

Franklin said strength and conditioning coach Dwight Galt has worked to make the team bigger and stronger, and their physical testing results were impressive.

Penn State freshmen running backs Noah Cain and Devyn Ford opened camp with strong showings. Ideally, Franklin would like to stagger their in-game reps to preserve Cain’s and Ford’s eligibility. Thanks to the NCAA’s four-game redshirt rule, he just might be able to do that. As of last season, players are allowed to play in up to four games and still qualify for a redshirt season, maintaining four years of eligibility.

“Noah’s going to show up when it’s live,” Franklin said. “He’s the guy who’s going to get four yards on a consistent basis ... and you’re going to look down at the stats and he’s going to have 100 yards.”

Ford’s explosiveness and maturity stood out to Franklin during the first week of camp.

“He can run,” Franklin said. “He’s proved that in summer and he’s proved that on the field. We’re pleased with those things.”

Jaquan Brisker, a safety who came from Lackawanna College, appears to be ahead of schedule and should contend for a role in the defensive backfield. Through five practices, Franklin has been encouraged by his development.

“He’s a details guy,” Franklin said. “I see him doing to the little things probably earlier than I would have anticipated. The ball’s on the ground, he’s scooping and scoring. He’s got positive energy with his teammates. I’ve been impressed with him.”

Earlier in the opening week, Franklin said he took advantage of the rain and practiced outside to better familiarize the team with playing in those conditions.

Penn State opens the season at home against Idaho on Aug. 31 (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).

CNHI Penn State reporter

CNHI Penn State reporter