True fresh­men get chance to im­press at PSU

Brown, Thorpe raise eye­brows


STATE COL­LEGE — Jour­ney Brown blazed down the side­line as black turf pel­lets jumped off the Hol­uba Hall sur­face, im­press­ing his coaches and nearly run­ning over TV re­porters at Penn State’s prac­tice Wed­nes­day night.

Brown, a fresh­man run­ning back, is red­shirt­ing like 18 other mem­bers of his 2017 re­cruit­ing class. The only three true fresh­men see­ing the field this sea­son are de­fen­sive end Ye­tur GrossMatos and cor ner­backs La­mont Wade and Tariq Cas­tro-Fields.

Brown is wait­ing for 2018, but that doesn’ t mean he hasn’t been get­ting work in. That was ev­i­dent dur­ing the bye week with three 12-play scrim­mages fea­tur­ing the fresh­men and non-travel ros­ter mem­bers.

Now is the time for younger play­ers to show off what they’ve got, and Penn State head coach James Franklin has been par­tic­u­larly fas­ci­nated with three fresh­men: Brown, of fen­sive line­man C.J. Thorpe and safety Jonathan Sutherland.

The first player Franklin men­tioned was Brown, a for­mer high school track star

from Meadville who’s proved he can do more than just race past peo­ple.

“We knew he could run, but be­ing able to run fast on a track and be­ing able to do it at this level (are dif­fer­ent). He’s re­ally showed some­thing the past cou­ple of weeks ,” Franklin said of Brown, who broke a statere­cord time of 10.43 sec­onds in the 100-me­ter PIAA Class AA Track and Field Cham­pi­onships last year. “He has the abil­ity to break tack les, which you didn’t know. In high school he was al­ways faster than ev­ery­body.

“Break­ing tack­les and mak­ing peo­ple miss, he’s gain­ing a lot of con­fi­dence. There’s an ex­cite­ment among the older back with him.”

Franklin called Sutherland, a four-star safety orig­i­nally hail­ing from Canada, a “coach­able” and “ma­ture” player for his age .

On Brown’s side of the ball, Thorpe—a four-star prospect who stands at 6-foot3, 330 pounds — is a scary guy to go up against. The Pitts­burgh na­tive was an earth-mover at Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice, open­ing up holes at left guard.

Franklin said he can im­prove in pass pro­tec­tion, but looks like a sturdy fu­ture op­tion on Penn State’s of­fen­sive line.

“I think he’s got a chance to be one of the more phys­i­cal, in­tim­i­dat­ing block­ers in the Big Ten,” the coach said.

Bye week sched­ule

We’ re well into the bye week, which one would think is a re­lax­ing time for Penn State’s play­ers and coaches.

Well, not re­ally. The lat­ter are look­ing at a hec­tic few days.

“We’ ll be all over the place,” Franklin said. Lit­er­ally. T he head coach was sched­uled to fly to Texas af­ter Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice to scout prospects. Like the rest of his as­sis­tant coaches — out­side of the co­or­di­na­tors — he’ll be on the re­cruit­ing trail from mid-week un­til Sun­day.

It’s not all about re­cruit­ing, though.

Ear­lier in the week, the staff fo­cused an en­tire day on self-scouting ten­den­cies from the first half of the sea­son. Of­fen­sive staff mem­bers com­piled a re­port on the Penn State de­fense, and vice versa.

“I think a lot of times and it’s the same thing with you guys: You write an ar­ti­cle and you got a typo in there but you’ve looked at it so many times you skipped over it,” Franklin said. “It’s the same thing with us. We’re too close to our work some­times. Get­ting a fresh set of eyes in there, I think, is im­por­tant. I like where we’re at.”

While the coaches are on the re­cruit­ing trail, Penn State’s play­ers are al­lowed to go home for the week­end. The vet­eran Nit­tany Lions are ac­tu­ally of f from now un­til Sun­day — but they’re all still re­spon­si­ble to be ready when they come back. Penn State hosts Michi­gan next Satur­day, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Beaver Sta­dium.

“They ob­vi­ously will have some free time to be able to go out and en­joy them­selves, and I want them to do that like gen­tle­men as well — and what­ever they do do, do it in mod­er­a­tion,” Franklin said. “So the most im­por­tant thing them is go home, recharge your bat­ter­ies, watch some film on their own. And ob­vi­ously we’ ll all be watch­ing Michi­gan on Satur­day.”

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