UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football has reached the midpoint of the third week of training camp, hosting its second Wednesday media availability at the Lasch Building.
Catch up with defensive line coach Sean Spencer, running back Saquon Barkley and linebacker Koa Farmer for a closer look at what's new in training camp.
Camp Competition At All-Time
Consensus across Farmer, Barkley and Spencer, the level of competition is the highest it has ever been under the direction of head coach James Franklin.
"This is the most competition that we've had per position throughout my four years, going on my fourth year now, and I think that in itself makes it a lot easier to coach because a guy knows that if he doesn't have positive reps that there's a guy right behind him," Spencer said.
For Farmer, part of where he has seen the competition in full force is during team periods, which are often wire-to-wire on the last play.
"I think that's what we need as a team, to be more competitive and that's what it is," Farmer said.
Barkley on Sanders
Barkley and true sophomore Miles Sanders are now roommates and for Barkley, he thinks Sanders has made a big jump in his development from year one to year two.
"You can obviously kind of see that with freshmen to their sophomore year," Barkley said. "Not only him but just the running back group in general, coach Huff does a really of making us focus on the little things, understanding the defense and not just being a good back or making that guy miss or making the right cut, but understanding the whole offense as a whole or the whole defense as a whole. You can see the difference from last year, his blitz odds are so much better. Last year he didn't know what was going on and now he's calling them out, he's communicating, over communicating, stepping up and making the right plays."
Along the defensive line Spencer noted he's especially excited about the progress he has seen from Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran, also naming Shaka Toney and Shane Simmons in addition to Shareef Miller. As a newcomer, Yetur Gross-Matos is perhaps one of the most talented Nittany Lions Spencer has seen come through, but he's still got work to do of course.
"He's just physically gifted, you look at him walk off the field and you think he's a redshirt junior," Spencer said. "He's six-five, 250 pounds and he looks like a Greek God when he walks off the field. But he's still young."
Farmer Settled In
This time last year, Farmer was in a bit of different situation in training camp. Finding success at linebacker for the Nittany Lions in 2016 only fueled his motivation, as he noted this year he's taking much more of a professional approach to his preparation, not to mention balancing adding strength without sacrificing speed.
"I'm really watching film, I'm really understanding why we run these coverages," Farmer said. "I'm more comfortable in the box, that was a big thing."