Penn State's Franklin conducts his first spring drills

Penn State football coach James Franklin celebrates the announcement of a recruit committing to the school during national signing day at the Lasch building Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark)
Penn State football coach James Franklin celebrates the announcement of a recruit committing to the school during national signing day at the Lasch building Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark)
Posted: March 19, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - James Franklin immersed himself in Penn State's football program from the moment he first greeted a young Nittany Lions fan at University Park Airport in January.

He has moved past Vanderbilt, rarely referring to the university by name in public anymore. On Monday, he called it "our last institution."

The coach is all about Penn State now, and he moved his commitment to the turf on Monday. The Lions practiced in Holuba Hall for the first time this spring. Penn State has 15 spring practices, culminating in the annual Blue-White scrimmage on April 12.

The Lions executed drills inside their behemoth of an indoor practice facility, and as Franklin promised, there was no walking allowed.

"I told them the first day, if you don't know where you're supposed to go or what you're doing when the horn blows, then sprint in a circle until you figure it out," Franklin said.

No such situation occurred. Franklin and his assistants kept the pace as frenetic as possible. The head coach would often jump into a drill when he noticed something wrong.

Franklin emphasized special teams at his news conference Monday, and he could be seen instructing running back Bill Belton on the proper technique to use when receiving a kickoff.

Position changes

Franklin announced that several players will start adjusting to new roles. Notably, Adrian Amos will return to safety after playing much of last season at cornerback.

Franklin also plucked Brian Gaia and Derek Dowrey from the defensive line and moved them to Penn State's offensive line.

To compensate, Anthony Zettel has moved from defensive end to defensive tackle. He now weighs 274 pounds, so he can hold down the interior of the line.

Christian Hackenberg isn't changing position, but he'll be bigger when he lines up at quarterback. At 234 pounds, he'll enter the 2014 season having benefited from a full offseason of weight training. Hackenberg was listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds last season.

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