Coming off his first real injury scare, Trace McSorley rallied Penn State to a victory Saturday before his head coach called him “the best player in college football.”
James Franklin doubled down on his starting quarterback Tuesday, even as he twice declined to provide an update on the apparent knee injury McSorley suffered against Iowa.
McSorley will speak to the press today, when he’ll likely address his status and availability for Saturday’s visit to No. 5 Michigan. He suffered the injury on sack in the first half of the 30-24 win over the Hawkeyes and missed most of the second quarter, but his 51-yard run in the third quarter propelled the Nittany Lions.
“Obviously, everybody knows he got dinged up in the game, so I’m not keeping that a secret,” Franklin said. “But literally, by 7 a.m., he has done more than most people do all day to give him the best chance to be healthy, to practice at a very, very high level, and then also to make sure that he can go and be present and dominate in the classroom.
“He’s a great example.”
That extends off the football field, too, Franklin said, calling McSorley a great teammate and terrific student who has a chance to earn Penn State’s all-time wins record for quarterbacks.
“Probably the most important stat that you can get,” Franklin pointed out.
Franklin met with McSorley’s parents Monday, and he credits them for raising him with a solid foundation that has carried over to becoming a college athlete.
“They’ve done a great job,” Franklin said. “Then, we were fortunate and able to build on that. But it’s been a real complementary process between our staff and Trace’s parents, and all along this journey kind of working together for what was in Trace’s best interest and what was in Penn State’s best interest.”
Freshman Micah Parsons might be in line for more playing time at outside linebacker as the season enters its final month.
Parsons doesn’t seem to particularly care where that playing time comes, either.
“Micah wants to play linebacker. He wants to play running back, and he wants to wrestle for (legendary wrestling coach Cael Sanderson), and he’s not kidding,” Franklin said. “He talked to Cael about it. He wants to do it all, and he wants to do it all yesterday.”
It might not be hyperbole.
When Franklin’s quote hit Twitter, Parsons retweeted it with a series of emojis of laughing faces, adding “I’m not kidding!”
Parsons is Penn State’s leading tackler despite playing exclusively in a backup role behind senior Koa Farmer. He was especially strong the last two weeks against Indiana and Iowa, combining for 15 of his 43 tackles this season.
“I think you’ll see Micah continue to grow and play with more confidence, and I think you’ll also continue to see Micah have more and more production,” Franklin said. “As he continues to really start to master that position, I think you’ll start to see us put more things on his plate.”
A mentor’s farewell
His college playing days over and his coaching career just beginning, Franklin lived for a short time at Denny Douds’ home, a mentor spending plenty of fall nights on the back porch, eating Klondike bars with the student who had 1,000 questions trying to figure out this coaching thing.
Douds — the 77-year-old East Stroudsburg University legend who spent 45 seasons as head coach of the Warriors and was the NCAA wins leader among active coaches — retired after a game against Ohio Dominican, and perhaps his most famous pupil said Tuesday he still hasn’t spoken to his old college coach about the decision.
“I’m going to reach out to Denny and hopefully get some time with him to talk and make sure he knows how much I appreciate him professionally, but more importantly personally,” Franklin said. “I think it’s just a great example why sports are looked at the way they’re looked at in our country. Coaches have a huge impact. Coaches and high school teachers and elementary school teachers have such a huge impact on young people in our communities and complement what’s being taught and learned in the classroom and setting kids up for success later in life with great life lessons.
“I haven’t reached out to Denny yet, because I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to say to him. Kind of been struggling with that, to be honest with you.”
Franklin said Douds was a father-figure to him during his days as the Warriors’ quarterback.
“Obviously, the wins are important in this business. We all get it,” Franklin said. “But I also hope that I have the opportunity to have the type of personal impact that Denny had on people and had on that community.”
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Source: The Associated Press