Penn State coach James Franklin lauds 3 youngsters; Blake Gillikin emerges as secret weapon

Penn State football-Blake Gillikin-

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Promising pups

Greg Pickel of Pennlive.com writes that Penn State coach James Franklin, before heading off on a recruiting swing to Texas, presided over a developmental scrimmage on Wednesday afternoon in Holuba Hall.

Afterward, Franklin talked up three promising freshmen – running back Journey Brown (“He’s gained a lot of confidence”), guard C.J. Thorpe (“I think he has a chance to be one of the more physical, intimidating blockers in the Big Ten”) and safety Jonathan Sutherland (“Very physical guy, very mature guy, very detailed, very coachable”).

By coincidence, all three guys play positions where the Nittany Lions will have needs next year, with the expected departure of running back Saquon Barkley and the definite departures of guard Brendan Mahon and safety Marcus Allen.

The unnoticed greatness of Blake Gillikin

Andrew Callahan of Lions247 takes note of the strong work so far this season of sophomore punter Blake Gillikin. According to Callahan’s calculations, 23 of Gillikin’s 26 punts have either traveled 50 yards or landed inside the opponent’s 20. Eighteen have been downed inside the 10. “My goal every game is to put our defense in the best position to be successful,” Gillikin said, according to Callahan.

Compare and contrast

Jack R. Hirsh of the Daily Collegian compares the current edition of the Nittany Lions to the great 1994 team. He concludes that the ’94 quarterback, Kerry Collins, was slightly better through six games than Trace McSorley. Hirsh gives Barkley the nod over Ki-Jana Carter in the feature-back category. The biggest edge the current team enjoys, Hirsh writes, is on defense. (And though it was not mentioned, the ’94 club countered that with a huge edge on the offensive line. That team featured two guys, Jeff Hartings and Marco Rivera, who went on to long NFL careers, and another, Andre Johnson, who was a first-round draft pick. Aiding and abetting the line’s cause was another guy who enjoyed a lengthy pro career: tight end Kyle Brady.)

Tony Carr takes next step

Nate Bauer of Blue White Illustrated writes that while Tony Carr, point guard for the Penn State men’s basketball team, enjoyed a successful season as a freshman in 2016-17, he believes he is better now because of his offseason workout regimen. “I can definitely say I’m stronger,” Carr said, according to Bauer. “We’ve done a lot of core work, so my core has improved drastically, and my conditioning has also improved.” Coach Patrick Chambers said Carr has “absolutely changed his body,” while adding that he would like to see him improve as a leader, too.

Kevin Kerr returns

Gordon Brunskill of the Centre Daily Times writes that Kevin Kerr, a junior defenseman for the hockey team, has returned after missing the Nittany Lions’ march to the Big Ten Tournament championship last season with a leg injury. “The injury [recovery] turned out to be a little bit longer than we expected,” Kerr said, according to Brunskill, “and just to finally be able to get back out there, it was a fantastic feeling to be out there with the guys you go to battle with all the time.”

Making a name for himself

Cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who has 3 interceptions in the early going for the Nittany Lions, listed for Dave Revsine of BTN the many ways in which his name has been butchered.

Also in the Land of 10

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