James Franklin wasn’t going overboard.
Asked specifically about the players standing out on the Nittany Lion offensive line at the guard positions, the head coach pointed to early enrollee Mike Miranda.
For a variety of reasons, Miranda has been given a real opportunity to show his ability. And that, said Franklin, wasn’t necessarily something the coaching staff had anticipated.
“I think Miranda is probably standing out and that's basically because we didn't know what to expect,” said Franklin at practice last week. “The other guys are doing a really good job. Miranda is just standing out because you just never know what to expect from a guy who was supposed to still be in high school. So he's doing a good job and the other guys are doing a good job as well.”
Miranda’s ascent has been well-documented through the course of the spring.
The first sign came when strength and conditioning coordinator Dwight Galt met with the media in the middle of March to wrap up the Nittany Lions’ winter workout session. Citing Miranda’s 18 squat reps at 365 pounds, and 300 pound clean, Galt twice mentioned that in fact Stow, Ohio product should still be in high school.
Enrolling at Penn State in January alongside Lamont Wade, K.J. Hamler, and Brelin Faison-Walden, Miranda’s impact has been immediate.
Franklin identified the opportunity that spring practice brings for the younger players vying to make a mark while older, more established players take fewer reps, noting Miranda as being a benefactor of that opportunity.
“A guy that I think has done a really nice job for only being on campus a couple of weeks is Miranda,” said Franklin. “He’s taking a bunch of reps right now, really with the ones and is doing a nice job, so I’ve been pleased with him.”
Later, when catching up with Penn State’s in-house media team, offensive line coach Matt Limegrover echoed the sentiment.
“I think one of the great things about the spring is you give a lot of guys an opportunity. Putting that together with a lot of the injuries that we’ve had, a lot of young guys are able to get a lot of reps,” said Limegrover, pointing to Connor McGovern and Ryan bates as both standing out this spring before turning to Miranda. “And then really the surprise I think of my group is Mike Miranda who, three months ago was still in high school and he’s out here competing against our starting D-line and really holding his own and doing a nice job. I’m really proud of him.”