New WRs coach catches up

Plans to solve why drops nagged PSU

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Sports - DAVE MOLINARI

UNIVER­SITY PARK, Pa. — Gerad Parker has been on Penn State’s pay­roll for nearly a month and hasn’t had trou­ble keep­ing busy since he ar­rived in cen­tral Penn­syl­va­nia.

Most of his time and en­ergy in the past few weeks has gone into re­cruit­ing, as the Nit­tany Lions tried to pick up the fi­nal few mem­bers of their Class of 2019.

But with that task largely be­hind him, although coach James Franklin wouldn’t rule out adding an­other player or two, Parker can turn his at­ten­tion to other mat­ters.

Like learn­ing his way around State Col­lege. Getting to know the play­ers he’ll be deal­ing with in his role as re­ceivers coach.

And study­ing the 2018 game films that will il­lus­trate why his pre­de­ces­sor, David Cor­ley, lost his job.

Which seems to be mostly be­cause vet­eran and

ac­com­plished re­ceivers such as Juwan John­son, DeAn­dre Thomp­kins and Bran­don Polk — none of whom will be in the pro­gram next sea­son — were rou­tinely un­able to hold on to Trace McSor­ley passes that struck them squarely in the hands.

“We didn’t make the plays that we’d been mak­ing and we dropped too many balls, and there’s a lot of fac­tors that go into that,” Franklin said. “There’s not one re­spon­si­bil­ity or an­swer for that. There’s a num­ber of them.

“I’m look­ing at it as a great op­por­tu­nity. I know [Parker is] look­ing at it as a great op­por­tu­nity. We’ve got some tal­ented guys that we’re ex­cited to see what they’re go­ing to be able to do.”

Cor­ley, ini­tially brought in a year ago as run­ning backs coach, had his job de­scrip­tion al­tered af­ter the Nit­tany Lions hired Ja’Juan Sei­der and put him in charge of the backs.

How cul­pa­ble Cor­ley is for the re­ceivers’ re­cur­ring prob­lem with drops is open to de­bate — younger play­ers such as K.J. Ham­ler and Ja­han Dot­son didn’t have trou­ble with them — but he was the one who paid for them with his job.

Parker, com­ing off a two-year stint at Duke, is keenly aware of that and sug­gested that con­vinc­ing his re­ceivers to not worry about drop­ping passes is the best way to min­i­mize the num­ber of times it hap­pens.

“I’m aware of why I’m here,” he said. “I think that you ap­proach catch­ing the foot­ball just like Steph Curry ap­proaches [a 3-point shot]. Steph Curry could care less whether he misses.

“You can’t fo­cus and have this be­lief of fail­ure ev­ery time the ball comes. And if not, it be­comes this epi­demic. And maybe that’s what hap­pened in some ways, this thing that kind of just turns into this mon­ster that you can’t re­ally stop.”

Parker will over­see a sta­ble of thor­ough­bred re­ceivers that is, for the most part, short on ex­pe­ri­ence but long on po­ten­tial. Only four of the eight schol­ar­ship play­ers there have ex­hausted a year of el­i­gi­bil­ity, but that area of the Nit­tany Lions’ depth chart is laden with four- and five-star prospects who could de­velop into le­git­i­mate dif­fer­ence-mak­ers.

“I’ve never been around a room that young,” Parker said. “It is ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing. Of course, would you rather walk into a se­nior-rid­den room and a proven room and all those things? Yeah. Any­body who says [other­wise] would be ly­ing. But it is a chal­lenge. You kind of like the youth that this room [has] that has also bonded with tal­ent. It’s a youth­ful room — which is al­ways tricky to find lead­er­ship in a youth­ful room — but also it’s very gifted.

“If we can struc­ture it to find lead­er­ship within it and make it what it needs to be from a tal­ent, fun­da­men­tal is­sue and go, I think it al­lows us to kind of be able to preach that the sky’s the limit.”

Gerad Parker Spent the past two years at Duke and was at Pur­due for three sea­sons be­fore that

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.