James Franklin hints at new project as Lasch construction wraps

The dust hasn’t quite settled yet the project to expand the weight room in the Lasch building yet, but most of Penn State’s football program will operate in the new spaces. While the estimated $48 million construction project is still getting the finishing touches both inside and out, work appears to be nearing completion.

Penn State’s program and athletic department, however, have long been pushing toward much-needed infrastructure improvements, head coaches James Franklin hinted Thursday night that a new project is likely to take shape soon.

Along with host Steve Jones for his weekly state college radio show, Franklin pointed to a long-sought food and nutrition project for Penn State’s football program. And since new athletic director Pat Kraft and university president Dr. Neeli Bendapudi worked together on the effort, Franklin expressed optimism that steps would soon be taken to meet those goals.

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“It’s something between Pat and Dr. Bendapudi that we’re working on,” Franklin said. “I think we’re going to be able to make progress and make progress quickly.”

James Franklin’s quest for infrastructure improvements

Franklin’s comments followed another small squirt he made earlier this week at his Tuesday press conference regarding sports homes. Franklin explained that Penn State lost an eventual NFL-tied prospect in the recruiting process due to the quality of its dormitories and nearly lost five-star defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton for the same reason. Franklin noted that competing programs typically have athletic or football-specific dormitories.

Meanwhile, in the case of a new football-specific dining room, Franklin explained his need from a purely physical perspective. Franklin stressed the importance of nutrition to the game’s highly tuned development and performance enhancement quotient, and lamented Penn State’s lack of infrastructure to implement this.

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“We’re one of the few athletic programs at this level that doesn’t have a real workout chart for the entire athletic department and specifically for football,” Franklin said. “And the reality is, as we all know, we all do, as you get older it magnifies how important your diet is and how important your diet is. You can lift any weight you want. If you don’t get enough sleep at night and don’t properly fuel your body, it won’t grow the way it’s supposed to. It will not recover the way it should recover.”

The sense of urgency takes shape

After a summer in which Franklin set the table for the first few months working with his new AD and president, progress on the project would present an urgency the head coach has been pushing for under the program.

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Franklin recognized the need for alignment between decision makers and the resources to implement change quickly and said competition creates the difference between programs where every benefit can make a difference.

“The margin of error in college football, where we want to go, is very small. You claw and claw for all those little areas where you can either maximize your ability or maybe gain an advantage or differentiate yourself,” said James Franklin. “And it’s harder than ever to stand out. So you better scrape and scrape every inch, every yard you can on the field. And the reality is, the more wins we get in the off-season, the better placed we are to be successful on Saturdays.”

Penn State football returns Saturday when Central Michigan plays at Beaver Stadium (noon, BTN).

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