The James Franklin era — and the 128th season of Penn State football — is officially underway.
The Nittany Lions opened preseason football camp Monday with their first of 29 scheduled practices leading up to the Aug. 30 season opener against the University of Central Florida in Dublin. After leading a busy recruiting period and overseeing a brief spring practice session, Franklin said he’s excited to get started.
“It’s been seven months since we arrived,” Franklin said. “We’ve gotten a lot of work done in a short period of time and (we’re) excited to get going and working with these guys day in and day out.”
Franklin has a young group, bolstered by a handful of experienced upperclassmen, with which to work.
The Nittany Lions welcome 15 returning starters back from offense, defense and special teams from last season’s 7-5 squad. Meanwhile, 78 of the 121 players listed on Penn State’s roster have never played in a game at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Per NCAA rules, FBS teams are only allowed to bring 105 players into camp. Much like Penn State’s spring practice sessions, Franklin plans to put his players to a physical test. As soon as the NCAA-mandated five-day acclimatization period is over, Franklin said he will do as much as the NCAA allows in terms of practicing and workouts. Team-building will also be a focus, he said.
“We spend a lot of time focused on chemistry and morale,” Franklin said. “I think chemistry and morale are as important, if not more important, than the X’s and the O’s and the toughness. But those things are important as well. So we’ll start out really aggressive and then we’ll start to cut back as things go.”