Nittany Lions spring practice update

April 13, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football hosted its weekly media availability at Holuba Hall Wednesday evening. Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin joined running back Miles Sanders and defensive end Ryan Buchholz for a trio of media sessions following spring practice.

For Buchholz, the Blue-White game is exactly the type of outing the Nittany Lions look forward to all offseason. With just four remaining practices, check in for an update on the spring season. 

Franklin on the Defensive Line

Franklin noted there's still room to grow when it comes to filling gaps in production left behind by graduation at defensive tackle. 

"I think obviously we're making progress with some young guys but we have some redshirt freshmen that we're kind of depending on, which is not ideal," Franklin said. "You'd love to have seniors, juniors and maybe a few redshirt sophomores sprinkled in, in the two deep but there's obviously a lot of teams across the country who play with redshirt freshmen and we have to be ready to do that as well."

Fortunately, Franklin noted the Nittany Lions are in good shape at defensive end with a mix of athletic veterans as well as younger guys who have transformed their bodies to better compliment the needs of the position.

"There are a lot of guys who have played a lot of football for us, a lot of athleticism, guys who played last year who were undersized, like Shane Simmons who is now over 250 pounds," Franklin said. "I think we're in a pretty good place. We're confident about where we're at, at defensive end. It needs to be a strength of our defense while our defensive tackles grow and mature inside and the same thing at Mike linebacker."

Looking at the Offensive Line

Buchholz noted a clear maturity factor when it comes to the consistent progress the offensive line has made in the offseason. 

"They are older and they are a mature group," Buchholz said. "Even though they did switch around last year, they are definitely good this year. They stepped up a lot."

For Franklin, redshirt Michal Menet is one Nittany Lion who has improved the most, specifically as it relates to fine tuning his fundamentals and technique.

"In high school he was just such a better athlete than everybody," Franklin said. "He's probably had since the end of the season until now, probably as much improvement as anyone in our program. I'm really pleased with him. He is legitimately fighting for a starting job and getting a lot of reps with the ones right now."

Patience Paying Off

With All-American Saquon Barkley's departure to the NFL, there's no doubting the spotlight will turn to running back Miles Sanders. While patiently waiting for his opportunity though, he took a ton from Barkley to help in his development.

"Learning from Saquon, he's a great mentor, he has been a great mentor since I got here so just learning from him and picking little ideas from his brain to be the best player I can be," Sanders said.

As his teammates on the other side of the ball watch him hard at work in spring ball, there's also no doubting Sanders' speed.

"He'll beat you to the spot, he'll beat you around the edge and he'll run right by you," Buchholz said. "It's definitely his speed. Obviously we can't tackle him right now but he definitely has some power in him so it will be different when you can actually tackle him."

Last Updated April 13, 2018