Penn State notebook: Coach James Franklin releases his depth chart

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DUBLIN — The depth chart came out Tuesday. Not the senior’s only depth chart Penn State coach James Franklin released several weeks ago, but rather, the real one.

Here is what the depth chart cleared up:

• Wide receiver DeaSean Hamilton is listed as the top receiver next to Geno Lewis.

• The offensive line is set with Andrew Nelson, Brian Gaia, Angelo Mangiro, Derek Dowrey and Donovan Smith.

• Brandon Bell is the third linebacker, next to Mike Hull and Nyeem Wartman.

• Trevor Williams won the final cornerback position over Da’Quan Davis.

• Running back Cole Chipialle has given into his nickname. He is now listed as “Chip Chipialle.”

Aside from the starters, the other apparent aspect about the depth chart was the versatility. Several players were included at multiple positions, suggesting that Franklin might be counting on the most talented players at different formations to get the most out of his team.

“It’s something we’re going to have to do and we’re going to have to embrace it until we get in a situation where we have similar depth as other people in the country and get some of our scholarships back,” Franklin said. “We have to train guys for multiple positions. So that’s going to allow you to get your best 11 guys on the field rather than saying, ‘OK, this guy is the starting right guard,’ and your right tackle has to come out of the game for a play to maybe get his ankle taped or something like that. Now you put another guy in the game. Well, we’re going to put the best guys on.

“So who is the 12th best player? Who is the 13th best player? Who is the 14th best player? We do that by position as well.”

Surprising freshman

Penn State has quite a few freshmen who will play this year, particularly given the NCAA sanctions wrecking the team’s depth levels. That said, this particular freshman will come as a surprise.

Grant Haley, a defensive back, is being held in high regard by coaches and players. Williams might be listed as the starter opposite Jordan Lucas, but Haley is likely to compete for playing time.

“As far as Grant Haley goes, could not be more excited about Grant Haley,” defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said. “He’s been everything we’ve hoped for and then some. As good of a player as Grant Haley is, he’s an even better person. He’s really stepped up. You talk about that versatility and flexibility, he’s played the boundary corner, the field corner, he’s played the nickel, he’s played in our dime package. He can play any and every position. He wants to play special teams. He’s eager. He’s going to be a tremendous contributor to our football team this year. He’ll make a big play.”

Wide receivers a competitive group

Hamilton and Lewis are the starters. That said, the competitions for receptions should be competitive given the inexperience of the group. Freshmen Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin will compete for playing time this season, according to offensive coordinator John Donovan.

“It says a lot for them to be able to be in the mix and what not,” he said. “They’re just going to keep getting better everyday.”


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

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