Penn State football opens camp with full roster, no sanctions

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- James Franklin is finally playing with a full deck.

Four years since the NCAA handed down what was thought to be, at the time, crippling sanctions to its football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, Penn State will play the 2016 season with a complete, 80 scholarship roster.

There are 105 total players on the training camp roster, including walk-ons.

Franklin, entering his third season as the Nittany Lions head coach, is not considered on the "hot seat" yet, despite coming off of consecutive 7-6 seasons. He has said throughout the offseason, however, with a full group of scholarship players, his team is out of excuses as to why it shouldn't be able to compete -- and win -- against the best teams in the Big Ten.

On Thursday though, at the team's annual media day, he reminded reporters of perhaps the Nittany Lions biggest weakness.

"We're still a young team, one of the youngest in the nation," Franklin said. "We were young last year, and we're young again. Our roster is a little out of whack. It will be interesting to see what the identity is."

Penn State's identity is typically its defense, known for years as "Linebacker U". The linebacker corps is expected to be a strength once again, with the return of starters Nyeem Wartman-White and Brandon Bell.

The rest of the defense has new faces, but it may have the same look. After defensive coordinator Bob Shoop left to take the same position at Tennessee, linebackers coach Brent Pry was promoted to lead the defense.

Up front, Penn State boasted one of the top defensive lines in the country last season, and Austin Johnson, Carl Nassib, and Anthony Zettel were all rewarded by getting selected in the NFL Draft. This year, Garrett Sickles and Central Dauphin graduate Evan Schwan are expected to lead the way.

On offense, the Nittany Lions will turn to youth and inexperience to replace NFL-bound Christian Hackenberg. At media day, Franklin indicated, unsurprisingly, that sophomore Trace McSorley has an early edge on redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens in the team's quarterback competition. McSorley looked comfortable in limited game action a year ago, specifically when he replaced an injured Hackenberg in the second half of the Taxslayer Bowl and brought Penn State back from a 21-point deficit before eventually losing.

Unlike Hackenberg, however, both quarterbacks say they're comfortable with the Nittany Lions new offense.

Joe Moorhead is the team's new offensive coordinator. Franklin hired him after Moorhead's spread offense at Fordham torched FCS schools.

Moorhead's offensive unit is young though. Not only whoever plays quarterback, but starting running back Saquon Barkley, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2015, is only a sophomore. Barkley will be backed up by Bishop McDevitt graduate Andre Robinson, who is entering his redshirt freshman year.