Penn State phenom running back Saquon Barkley didn’t participate in last year’s Blue-White Game — and the same is expected this go-around.
Penn State coach James Franklin said Tuesday that the spring practice plan for Barkley “will be very similar” to what it was last year.
Penn State fans might not see other players suit up, as well. Franklin said the same plan will be used on other veteran, sure-fire starters like tight end Mike Gesicki, linebacker Jason Cabinda and safety Marcus Allen.
“Now don’t get me wrong, they still need to get better,” Franklin noted. “But you know, their practice model will be a little bit different maybe than other guys that are still kind of trying to earn jobs and fight for a more significant role on the team.”
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Penn State’s Blue-White Game will kick off at 3 p.m. on April 22.
McGovern sliding to center
Whether it’s a long-lasting move or not remains to be seen, but for at least the start of spring practice, sophomore offensive lineman Connor McGovern is shuffling over a spot.
McGovern, who started nine of Penn State’s final 10 games of the last season at right guard, will move to center at the start of spring practice. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder was originally recruited as a four-star center out of Lake-Lehman High School.
Franklin said he and his staff have changed around the offensive line plans three or four times but ultimately wanted “to get as many returning starters on the field as possible.”
“The best way to do that is by moving a guy like Connor McGovern in there to center,” the coach said. “That’s how we’re going to start spring ball, but we’re not sure if we’ll necessarily finish that way.”
Several players switching positions
Three Nittany Lions will be permanently switching positions before the start of spring practice — Josh McPhearson, Johnathan Thomas and Jarvis Miller.
Miller’s switch from safety to linebacker was known prior to Tuesday, but Thomas and McPhearson’s moves to running back were not. Thomas, who was recruited as a three-star tailback out of Massachusetts, was a reserve linebacker in 2016, and McPhearson switches over from wide receiver.
McPhearson, a redshirt senior, is moving to the backfield for ball-security reasons. Franklin believes the Maryland native can make a difference on special teams as a kick-return specialist.
“We’re really hoping Josh can factor in and compete,” the coach said. “He’s a dynamic guy when he gets the ball in his hands.”