By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the fifth day of Penn State Football spring practice, the Nittany Lions hosted their first media availability. Head coach James Franklin, safety Marcus Allen and running back Saquon Barkley all took time for a question and answer session following practice at the Lasch Football Building.
A Little More on The Captains -
Penn State named senior Jason Cabinda and juniors Trace McSorley and Nick Scott 2017 team captains following a vote from coaches and teammates. As Franklin noted, typically there's a pre-spring ball vote as well as a training camp vote, with the team this year opting to name captains the trio captains on March 22 with all three coming in with a high number of votes. That might not be all when it comes to captains though.
"I think as you guys know, I would like, we didn't do it last year but I would like to have two on offense, two on defense and two on special teams, so that still gives us an opportunity between now and two weeks into camp for somebody else to kind of step up as well," Franklin said. "So we be in a situation where we have two on each side of the ball."
Monroe Maturing -
With an opening at safety due to the graduation of Malik Golden, Ayron Monroe is among a group competing for the spot, and his coaches and teammates are taking notice.
"Ayron's been really good, he's so much more mature and so much more confident in what we do and how we do things," Franklin said.
Allen has also taken note, also taking on some added responsibility to help guide Monroe in a few areas outside the practice field.
"I try to guide him on off the field things, just to be that guy inside the film room to get extra film, extra work and just have him under my wing," Allen said. "As far as his athleticism, it's crazy, he's very good, he's a freak."
Scott Doing His Thing -
Franklin also noted that in the safety battle, Scott has had just about as good of an offseason as anyone on the team. For Allen, Scott's success is a result of a commitment to the little things.
"He's always in there getting extra work, he's with me 24/7 even if I'm not in there, he's in there by himself," Allen said. "He's an athlete, he can run, he can jump out of the gym, he's very elusive as far as when he as the ball in his hands and Nick's just doing his thing right now."
Saquon Barkley Adding More Leadership
While already emerging as a leader, spring practice has only given Barkley more of an opportunity to refine leadership skills and work toward mentoring others.
"Coach JoeMo just kind of told us that the great teams have players that are able to coach other players are and players who are willing to be coached," Barkley said. "So I just try to take the knowledge that I have from the two years I have been playing and not only from myself, but kind guys who have experience and especially people coming from defense to offense or people who are going through their first spring ball and try to give them advice and try to teach them what to do on this play or the little things you can do to take a negative and make it a positive."
Competition at Running Back -
Having the ability to take time to fill more of a coach-like role, Barkley noted that all of the running backs are currently competing at a high level.
"Everyone is trying to show Coach Huff and show Coach Franklin that they can be that guy so everyone is pushing each other," Barkley said. "Mark [Allen] might rip off a 20-yard run and two or three plays later Andre [Robinson] and Miles [Sanders] and JT [Johnathan Thomas] and all those guys - the room is so competitive. The love that we have each other is just so impressive to see how we go from being brothers and best friends to when we're on the field, we're trying to make sure this guy doesn't get this extra rep or something like that."
From the group, Barkley noted he has seen Robinson take on a good feel for the inside zone with shifty speed from Allen and explosive play from Sanders, with Thomas working through the transition from defense to offense.