Lion king

By on May 28, 2014
Penn State football coach James Franklin meets the media during a press conference at the Manheim Touchdown Club's banquet last Friday.

Penn State football coach James Franklin meets the media during a press conference at the Manheim Touchdown Club’s banquet last Friday.


James Franklin has been on the job as the Penn State University football coach for less than six months, but that’s been plenty of time for him to form an opinion on Nittany Lion players Deron Thompson and Tom Devenney.

“I love those guys,” Franklin said of the two Warwick grads during a press conference at the Manheim Touchdown Club’s banquet last Friday.

The Lions’ boss had hoped to have Thompson and Devenney accompany him to the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, but couldn’t pull it off.

“We looked about throwing them in the car and driving them down with us tonight, but that would be considered an extra benefit,” Franklin said. “So we got shot down from compliance about that. I thought that would be cool for them &tstr; it just makes too much sense, but we weren’t able to do it.”

With Friday’s stop being the final leg on a busy stretch for Franklin &tstr; including a recent appearance at Jordan Steffy’s Children Deserve a Chance Foundation event in Steinman Park and speaking engagements on the Lions’ caravan &tstr; he was looking forward to getting a little time with his wife and kids.

“I’m flying first thing in the morning to go see my family,” Franklin said. “So as excited as I am to be here doing this event, I’m more excited to go see my family in the morning.”

Thompson and Devenney are a big part of the Nittany Lions’ family right now. Thompson, a redshirt junior who earned a scholarship last year, has played on special teams each of the past two seasons. The 2011 Warrior grad figures to play a prominent role there again under Franklin.

“(Deron and Tom) are up there working out right now and getting after it,” Franklin said. “We’re excited about (Deron) and what role he’s going to be able to fill for us, probably specifically on special teams. We’d love for him to have a big role.”

In fact, Thompson could find himself playing on PSU special teams coordinator Charles Huff’s nekton unit &tstr; a player who starts on all four units. Huff has compared his special team units to great white sharks relentlessly attacking,

“We’d love for (Deron) to be one of those guys that we look at as almost like a specialist,” Franklin remarked. “If you start on offense, you start on defense, or you’re a guy that starts on all four units on special teams, those guys are really, really valuable. And I’m hoping he’s going to be able to serve that role for us.”

Asked if Thompson or other walk-ons who previously got a scholarship have to be concerned about losing that in a new year with a new coach, Franklin said, “First of all, we don’t get into any of that &tstr; who’s on scholarship, who’s not because once they’re in the program, they’re all treated the same. Some guys were rewarded one-year scholarships and that’s what they were. But we don’t cut guys and those types of things.”

Devenney was a starter at center for the White squad in Penn State’s spring game. Due to injuries, he switched to right guard with the Blue team, which consists of first- and second-string players.

The 2013 Warwick grad also caught Franklin’s eye when the Nittany Lions’ coach was thumbing through a brochure from last year’s MTC banquet.

“When I was asked to speak here, I’m looking through the brochure and there was Devenney’s mug in there. So that was kinda cool,” Franklin said.

Since that photo was taken, Devenney’s hard work after walking on with the Nittany Lions last fall has resulted in him getting bigger &tstr; he’s listed at 294 pounds on Penn State’s roster.

“Devenney is hard working and as good of a kid as we have,” Franklin said. “We don’t have great depth right now on the offensive line, so he’s going to have some opportunities.”


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