Penn State Football’s best line under James Franklin? Rasheed Walker thinks so

Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) gets blocked by Penn State offensive lineman Rasheed Walker (Image via HawkCentral)
Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) gets blocked by Penn State offensive lineman Rasheed Walker (Image via HawkCentral) /

Penn State Football starting left tackle Rasheed Walker met with the media earlier this week and shed some light on his return for a final season, and offered insight into spring practice 

Penn State Football got a late Christmas gift when third-team All-Big Ten tackle Rasheed Walker announced he would be returning for a final season in Happy Valley.

He joined wide receiver Jahan Dotson, safety Jaquan Brisker, and cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields as key players who could have headed for the NFL but will be back with Penn State Football in 2021 and should boost their chances at bouncing back from their disappointing 4-5 season.

Walker was seen as a player who could have gone on day two of the NFL draft ins rounds 2-3, but wanted to come back and help the Nittany Lions win a championship, and be a part of righting the ship after the 2020 campaign.

We have seen with other teams like Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson put together their most talented squads because a few players got on the same page and decided to forego the draft, return to school for a final season, and in turn, raise their own draft stocks in the meantime.

Walker hopes to do that next fall and believes second-year offensive line coach Phil Trautwein will be a big reason why.

"“As I trusted him and kept on working on his techniques, I felt myself getting better and felt more confident as an offensive lineman,” Walker said. “I looked at it as, I have time. It’s only my third year. I can leave but I also can come back and invest more in myself by being coached by coach Trautwein for another year to give myself a better shot at the next level.”"

Rasheed Walker gave the media even more insight into what we can expect from Penn State Football this year, lets take a look at some key takeaways and insight:

Penn State football LT Juice Scruggs is all the way back from his injury 

Left tackle Rasheed Walker shed some light on the interior offensive line situation as well, one of the more intriguing position battles of the spring.

Walker said that as things stand right now, redshirt sophomore Juice Scruggs is the starting right guard for Penn State Football.

This does not come as a major surprise, as we predicted he would start at left guard while Mike Miranda moves over to center with Michael Menet off to the NFL. Scruggs was impressive in the final few games of last season as he started to earn more playing time, highlighted by a big performance against Illinois.

The redshirt sophomore was in a bad car accident after arriving in State College and needed a few seasons to rehab, but it seems he is all the way back. Pictures of him from spring ball surfaced on Penn State Football’s Twitter account a few weeks ago, and it looks like he has put on some much-needed size.

Scruggs is listed on the team’s site at six-foot-three and 302 pounds and is a menace in the running game. With Scruggs currently slated to start at right guard, it looks like he, Des Holmes, and transfer Eric Wilson will battle it out at left guard.

This could be the best Penn State football offensive line in the James Franklin era 

Penn State Football was one of the teams hit the hardest during the pandemic as they tried to introduce a new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in a never-before-seen offseason.

Trautwein was unable to get with players and work on technique and probably had to go off the tape of previous seasons to pick a starting five at first, as we all then saw, he started to make personnel adjustments.

"“The guy knows what he’s talking about,” Walker said on a media call with reporters. “Him being a former NFL tackle, he sees things that not everyone sees. When I first started working with him, I thought I was pretty good. But as I was working with him more, he started to point out a bunch of things that I had to work on to be better.”"

Walker’s high praise for the second-year line coach echoes that of the sentiments we heard around college football when Franklin hired him and brought him to Happy Valley. The job lies on his shoulders now to get this line to a place where they are a difference-maker because line play has held them back in years past.

The third-team All Big-Ten tackle talked about Trautwein being a very technical teacher and someone who is very specific about the details of line play, and Walker expects that to rub off on not only him, but the entire offensive line.

"“We’re all going to be technicians, we’re all going to be very disciplined, we’re all going to finish and we’re all going to play nasty, hard-nosed football,” Walker said. “Because that’s how we’ve been practicing and training, so it has to translate. And I’m really confident when I say that.”"