Penn State Football Coach James Franklin: Aaron Donald ‘Has Hurt College Football’

Penn State Football, James Franklin
Penn State Football head coach James Franklin(Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire)

Aaron Donald is one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, but Penn State Football coach James Franklin had some biting criticism for his impact on college football.

As the Nittany Lions opened spring practice, Franklin addressed the media, discussing his program’s quarterback situation, setting the expectations for some key positions, and made some surprising comments in Donald’s direction.

“I’m a huge Aaron Donald fan,” Franklin told reporters. “Aaron Donald has hurt college football.”

Donald is likely earmarked as a future First Ballot Hall of Famer, but his impact on how young players view the defensive line position has changed, in Franklin’s opinion, significantly.

“Because every single one of these kids think they’re Aaron Donald,” Franklin revealed. “‘Well, I’m going to lose weight, and I’m going to be more athletic.’ Well, there’s been one Aaron Donald, in 50 years, at his size, to be as disruptive as he is, as quick, and explosive, the problem is, everyone thinks they’re the exception.”


Donald 6-foot-1 and 284 pounds, is certainly undersized as an interior lineman, but he has produced 103 career sacks, and was instrumental n the Los Angeles Rams’ win in Super Bowl LVI over the Cincinnati Bengals.

From what Franklin is saying is that a lot of defensive tackles in college football are trying to take a shortcut and using Aaron Donald as an example.

“There are a lot more 300-plus pound defensive tackles who have had great NFL and college careers,” Franklin pointed out. “Than there have been 275 or 280-pound defensive tackles.

“Don’t get me wrong, if Aaron Donald wants to come to Penn State Football, we want him. Our guys have to understand that’s the exception, not the norm. And we have to find the happy medium between the two.”

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David Malandra Jr.

David Malandra Jr.

I am Sports Reporter that covers Pro & College Sports in Philadelphia