Strong camp brings Allar to QB forefront

Aug. 30—James Franklin didn't name a starting quarterback Tuesday, but he sure did praise the candidate most believe will get the nod anyway.

During his weekly press conference, Penn State's head coach raved about the effort prized quarterback prospect Drew Allar put on in camp, not holding back on the momentum the sophomore built with coaches and teammates as the No. 7 Nittany Lions prepare for their season opener against West Virginia on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.

"I thought he had a great camp," Franklin said of Allar. "All his numbers were really good. There have been some great situations that have come up in terms of how we cover situational football, whether it's two-minute or four-minute (drill), how to manage all those types of things. Going against a really good defense and a really good defensive back unit, there's been a ton of value in that.

"I think Drew's had, I would say, a good camp, a camp that has given him and the coaches and his teammates a bunch of confidence."

Last season's backup after being the highest-rated quarterback recruit of Franklin's tenure at Penn State, Allar engaged in a battle for the starting job during camp with redshirt freshman Beau Pribula. But while Allar appeared in 10 games and threw 60 passes in Sean Clifford's stead last season, Pribula has never appeared in a college game.

That experience might have helped Allar to a camp that dazzled coaches and teammates, at least in terms of metrics.

When asked about the most impressive numbers collected from the quarterbacks during practices, Franklin again focused on Allar, pointing out that the team got 14 practices into August before he threw an interception.

And that's against a secondary adept at picking off passes.

"He threw maybe one or two picks in the whole camp," cornerback Kalen King said. "He started off camp protecting the ball like crazy. He wasn't doing anything to damage the offense. He was making the right choices and making smart moves. That's only going to help us, because just knowing that my quarterback is going to take care of the ball and is not going to be careless with it means a lot."

It's all academic

The national football rankings aren't the only ones Franklin is looking at heading into the season.

With news last week that Penn State ranked last for the 2021-22 academic year in the Big Ten conference in the NCAA's academic progress rate, Franklin insisted improvements would be demanded and that changes expected for coming school years.

"We'll get it right," Franklin vowed.

He added that Penn State athletic director Patrick Kraft and the academic staff takes pride in the APR statistics, and that the program has "historically" been strong in that measurement of academic success, even earning a perfect 1,000 score in 2019-2020.

"Obviously, we're going to spend a lot of energy and resources on getting it back where we want it to be," he said.

Green means go

Four members of Penn State's 2023 recruiting class have been given Franklin's "green light" to open the season, and all are on defense.

Linebacker Tony Rojas, safety King Mack and cornerbacks Zion Tracy and Elliott Washington all were given the somewhat ceremonial clearance to receive early playing time starting in the opener. But the green light status does hold significance: It means those four players are unlikely to redshirt and probably have earned significant playing time at least on the special teams units.

"I think there's another group of 'yellow' guys that, you hope by game five, game four or somewhere around there, that they're going to be ready to be green lighted, as well," Franklin said.

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