PSU Early Enrollee Profile: Paris Palmer

Get to know the junior college transfer who could be the answer at the all-important (and vacant) left tackle position.

Penn State coach James Franklin wasted no time piling high expectations on the very high shoulders of junior college transfer offensive tackle Paris Palmer.

At the Nittany Lions' “Signature Event” Signing Day celebration before some 1,500 fans at Rec Hall Wednesday night, Franklin said the 6-foot-8, 288-pounder is being looked at as a protector -- perhaps THE protector -- of franchise quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

“It's very, very important that we went out and got somebody (so) that we can protect Hackenberg's backside,” Franklin said. “That's very, very important to us. Wouldn't you guys all agree?”

The PSU faithful, who watched the talented Hackenberg be battered to the tune of a Big Ten high 44 sacks last season, roared.

Franklin was, however, quick to qualify:

“We have some guys in the program that we feel really highly about, but this is another guy who's going to be able to come in and compete with them,” he said. “And that's what we're trying to do; we're trying to create the most competitive environment in the country.”

A North Carolina native who spent the last two seasons at Lackawanna Junior College in northeast Pennsylvania, Palmer enrolled at Penn State for the spring semester. So he is already in the Lions' strength and nutrition programs.

At a press conference earlier in the day Wednesday, Franklin was a tad more measured in his praise of Palmer.

“He's interesting because he came in at around 297 (pounds) and is actually down to 288 now,” Franklin said. “I think he's going to put the weight back on, but it's going to be the right weight. But it's a huge transition. A huge transition academically. It's a huge transition socially, and then football-wise as well.

“So, he's doing extremely well,” the coach added. “Everybody I talked to -- the academic staff, the strength staff, the trainers, everybody -- they have just been impressed with him.”

Palmer, who was originally committed to South Carolina, was a big get for Penn State because 2014 starting left tackle Donovan Smith declared for the NFL Draft following his redshirt junior season. Though Smith obviously did not have a great year, he was the Lions' most experienced offensive lineman.

Palmer, who sports a 34-inch reach, said he'd like to “contribute as early as I can.” But there is something else to take care of first.

“I know that I'm older than the other early enrollees,” he said. ”But there's still a learning curve to go from junior college to major D-I football. So individually, my goal is to come in and get acclimated to the program as quickly as possible just to be able to mesh well with the guys and learn how they do things the Penn State way -- correctly.”

Check out everything Palmer had to say at the Signature Event -- and who was interviewing him -- in the video above.

Fight On State Top Stories