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What's the latest on Penn State football tackle Drew Shelton ahead of preseason camp?

Greg Pickelby:Greg Pickel06/13/24

GregPickel

James Franklin addresses Penn State White Out Game, Offense during Summer Update

STATE COLLGE — Penn State must replace first-round NFL Draft pick Olu Fashanu at left tackle. Third-year Nittany Lion Drew Shelton is the man to do so. But the Downingtown, Pa., native hit a roadblock on his path to full-time first-team reps this offseason after a planned surgery following the 2023 season caused him to miss all of spring practice. However, with preseason camp now a month and a half away, the experienced blocker is cleared to be all-systems-go for the team’s next practice snaps.

“I think he handled his time out physically the right way,” Lions coach James Franklin said Thursday. “Been a really good coach and mentor to some of the younger players. We talked about it this morning. I think he’s fully cleared now. He was still pretty much doing everything. But, he had a few limitations like in the weight room. But, I think he’s fully cleared now. And I think he’s really in a good position.

“I think he probably needs to put on a few pounds like we’ve talked about, but besides that, he’s a super mature kid, very conscientious, very intelligent. And obviously, he’s played well when he’s been in there, all the way back to as a true freshman. So we’re expecting him to have a good year. But, this summer is going to be important for him, and training camp will be important for him, because he did obviously miss all of spring.”

Penn State will have a first-time starting left tackle in 2024, but not in the usual sense

Shelton will be coined a first-time starter, assuming he wins the left tackle job as expected. But, it’s a bit of a misnomer. After all, he started five games down the stretch, including the Rose Bowl, when Fashanu was out with an injury in 2022. And, while he started only the Peach Bowl in 2023, he played in all 13 contests and thus is much more experienced than a typical first-time first-teamer.

“I think he had that experience that he had last year where he was rotating in a ton, and now, obviously, coming into this year, healthy, experienced, more mature, very, very football intelligent from a football IQ standpoint; I think he’s going to have a really good year for us,” Franklin said. “I think there’s a lot of confidence and there’s a lot of faith.”

Penn State offensive line coach Phil Trautwein certainly agrees. He’s watched the 6-foot-5, 306-pound blocker improve year over year while preparing to take the mantle from Fashanu. Now, he’s on the cusp of doing so.

“Shelton is cleared, he’s ready to go,” Trautwein said. “He’s working on his sets every day. He’s working on his technique and fundamentals. And, getting back to full speed in his fundamentals and his power and his punch. So, just working on those little fine details that now we can do that we haven’t been able to do. Because, spring was probably more of a mental mindset of his, just making sure his mind was right and he knew exactly what he was going to do and took mental reps.”

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