Keep­ing their game safe

Af­ter a player trans­ferred to Pitt, PSU changed up its play sig­nals from sidelines

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Mark Wo­gen­rich

Af­ter a for­mer Penn State foot­ball player trans­ferred to Pitt in Au­gust, James Franklin ad­dressed Week 3 on the sched­ule al­most im­me­di­ately. He called that an­other un­in­tended con­se­quence of the NCAA trans­fer por­tal.

Franklin said Tues­day that his team changed its side­line sig­nals soon af­ter John Petr­ishen, a for­mer Penn State safety, trans­ferred to Pitt. The Pan­thers visit Beaver Sta­dium on Satur­day.

An all-state player at Pitts­burgh Cen­tral Catholic, Petr­ishen dealt with mul­ti­ple in­juries at Penn State, say­ing in Au­gust that he un­der­went off­sea­son shoul­der re­con­struc­tion. He played in 13 games, pri­mar­ily on spe­cial teams, for the Lions last sea­son.

Petr­ishen, who grad­u­ated from Penn State and will have two sea­sons of el­i­gi­bil­ity at Pitt, said that “a fresh start and change of scenery will pay huge div­i­dends in all as­pects of my life.”

For Penn State, Petr­ishen’s de­ci­sion prompted changes as well. At his weekly press con­fer­ence Tues­day, Franklin brought up the move to change sig­nals with­out be­ing asked. Petr­ishen was at Penn State for four years and “knows all our sig­nals,” Franklin said, par­tic­u­larly the de­fen­sive calls.

Franklin said that Penn State im­ple­mented the changes dur­ing train­ing camp and put the new sig­nals in use for the sea­son’s first two games.

“As soon as that was an­nounced, that that’s where [Petr­ishen] was go­ing, we had to get with our guys and come up with new sig­nals for ev­ery­thing that we do,” Franklin said. “The fact that we did it right away, we’ve had plenty of time to get it done, and now our guys are com­fort­able.”

Play­ers said the ad­just­ment wasn’t

too dif­fi­cult, so long as they were pre­pared in meet­ings.

“It shouldn’t be too crazy,” de­fen­sive tackle An­to­nio Shel­ton said, “as long as ev­ery­body’s locked in on it.”

Franklin tied the de­ci­sion to an­other cri­tique of the NCAA’s re­cent trans­fer rule changes that al­low play­ers to trans­fer with fewer re­stric­tions. In years past, coaches could block trans­fers to cer­tain schools, such as con­fer­ence teams or up­com­ing op­po­nents. Un­der the sys­tem im­ple­mented last year, coaches no longer can do that.

Last week, Franklin lamented that the NCAA trans­fer por­tal has prod­ded col­lege coaches to start re­cruit­ing col­lege play­ers. That, along with hav­ing to change his team’s sig­nals, prompted Franklin to say that the NCAA “over­cor­rected” its rules re­gard­ing trans­fers.

“This is ex­actly why, for years, coaches were against the trans­fer­ring within con­fer­ences or games on your sched­ule,” Franklin said. “I think the prob­lem with it is that, as we all know, some peo­ple abused it, and they were deny­ing kids ev­ery­where that they wanted to go, and that shouldn’t hap­pen. But what hap­pened is we over­cor­rected.

“We went from be­ing able to deny [play­ers from trans­fer­ring] ev­ery­where to now not be­ing able to deny them [from trans­fer­ring] any­where. So it’s prob­lem­atic. That’s why peo­ple have no-com­petes and things like that. It is what it is, and if that’s in the best in­ter­est of the stu­dent-ath­lete, we’ll ad­just.”

BARRY REEGER/AP

Penn State coach James Franklin changed his play sig­nals af­ter for­mer Nit­tany Lions safety John Petr­ishen trans­ferred to Pitt.

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