Absence of depth slows development for Penn State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Spring realism is starting to kick in. Penn State coach James Franklin isn't necessarily discouraged -- he said the attitude and effort from his team has been top notch -- but the results he has seen on the field are far from where he would like them to be.

The biggest problem for Franklin is a familiar one to Penn State fans -- depth.

"I think we have really good football players and great kids here," he said Saturday in a brief interview. "We just don't have enough of them. That's the reality."

As Franklin has said since he has been hired, the most glaring hole has been on the offensive line, where he says that position, along with wide receiver, doesn't have enough depth for a quality starting lineup at this point.

Several offensive linemen, including guard Miles Dieffenbach, were not seen Saturday at practice. When asked about Dieffenbach and tackle Andrew Nelson, Franklin, who declines to discuss injuries as a rule, said he had not seen enough of them this spring.

Franklin said the lack of depth has thrown off several of his plans pertaining to the team's progression.

"The second-team quarterback has a hard time developing because he's got people around him all the time," he said. "What I don't think people realize all the time is that when you have such a lack of depth at positions it affects everybody's development. It affects the defensive backs because they aren't getting the work they need as well. It has a trickle-down effect."

As Franklin spoke after practice, Penn State's eighth this spring, several recruits watched from bleachers. Younger players will be vital for Penn State.

Franklin said he already has been direct-messaging on Twitter the players in his 2014 recruiting class, telling them to be ready this fall. Though he prefers to redshirt players, he said plenty of freshmen will have the opportunity to play.

"We're going to have to play them as true freshmen and just grow with them," Franklin said.


NOTE -- Offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez committed to Penn State, according to Rivals, Scout and 24-7 Sports. He is rated as a four-star recruit. He is Penn State's 10th committed recruit of the Class of 2015.

Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05.

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