Extensions the talk of media days
While details are still being worked out on a new contract for football coach James Franklin, Penn State has signed wrestling coach Cael Sanderson to a long-term deal.
Athletic director Sandy Barbour revealed that news Tuesday at Big Ten media days in Chicago. Barbour did not discuss details of Sanderson’s contract, such as length or salary, but an extension was a foregone conclusion since the coach has led PSU to six national championships in the last seven years.
“What Cael and our wrestling program has done has been absolutely spectacular,” Barbour told reporters in Chicago.
The AD also addressed the often-discussed contract extension for Franklin, who has two years left on the six-year deal he signed in 2014.
“I can guarantee you this: We’re 100 percent committed to James, and James is 100 percent committed to Penn State,” Barbour said. “We’re trying to get to the right place. Sometimes it can be complicated, but I have no concern about us getting there. It’s just probably going to take longer than any of us thought.”
Franklin said offensive lineman Andrew Nelson and Brendan Mahon both will be ready for training camp next month. Both players had their 2016 season cut short by injuries.
With those two back healthy and numerous other key contributors returning, the Nittany Lions’ offensive line should be the best it’s been in a number of years.
“I would make the argument the thing we’re most excited about on both sides of the ball — but specifically on offense — is the offensive line,” Franklin said Tuesday. “I think you guys have heard when we got the job I think we had seven scholarship offensive linemen. We moved two defensive linemen over to get to nine. And that was a real challenge for us.
“I think we all realized that it’s hard to solve an O-line/D-line problem quickly because that position is so dependent on size and strength and maturity.”
Franklin on Julius
PSU revealed Monday that kicker Joey Julius will not be on the team this fall. Julius had been in a treatment facility for an eating disorder, but he tweeted an update Tuesday.
“Thank you everyone for the kind messages. Just so you don’t worry I am in full recovery and have been discharged from treatment for awhile,” Julius wrote.
Franklin address Julius by telling reporters: “We love Joe, and we support Joe. He has been a huge part of our program and will continue to be.”
Place-kicker Tyler Davis would seem to be the frontrunner to handle kickoff duties in Julius’ absence. Punter Blake Gillikin also is a possibility.
“Obviously it’s not a good situation because we had one of the better kickoff guys in the country, one of the better punters in the country, one of the better field goal guys in the country,” Franklin said. “I think when you limit how many things they have to do, it’s helpful. We’ll just see how this plays out.”
Tight end Mike Gesicki was the only member of the PSU traveling party to wear his Big Ten championship ring during the conference’s media days.
He showed off the impressive ring, which includes a giant blue “S” and a diamond shaped like a football.