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BREAKING: James Franklin confirms significant injury to Penn State football QB

After reports first surfaced a few weeks ago, James Franklin confirmed Tuesday night that Penn State football will be without one of its quarterbacks for an extended period of time.



Penn State football

Penn State football is nearing the conclusion of spring practice, but the Nittany Lions quarterback room could not get to the other side of Saturday’s Blue-White Game unscathed. On Tuesday, head coach James Franklin confirmed that backup quarterback Jaxon Smolik will miss an extended period of time with an undisclosed injury. The news of Smolik’s setback was first reported in late March.

James Franklin confirms Jaxon Smolik to miss extended period with injury

News surfaced on March 29 indicating that Penn State backup quarterback Jaxon Smolik was likely to be out indefinitely with an injury. First reported by Ryan Snyder of Blue-White Illustrated, a source close to the program had confirmed that Smolik would miss “a significant amount of time,” ruling out a return to spring practice and putting the 2024 season in jeopardy.

That reporting has now been publicly confirmed by Penn State football coach James Franklin. While he did not speak to the nature of the injury per program policy, Franklin did acknowledge that Smolik would miss an extended period when addressing the media following spring practice on Tuesday evening.

“Yeah, he’s got a significant injury,” Franklin said Tuesday. “He’ll be out for a period of time. And we’ll see.”

Penn State quarterback impressed early in time on campus

The undisclosed injury will be an unfortunate setback for a rising young member of the Penn State football program. An Iowa native, Jaxon Smolik was a three-star prospect in the class of 2023 but was widely viewed as being slightly undervalued as a recruit due, coincidently, to an injury suffered as a junior.

Early enrolling last January, Smolik made strides and turned heads behind closed doors in year one in Happy Valley. Smolik took two snaps last fall against Delaware as a true freshman.

Jaxon Smolik always figured to play a backup role again this season behind Drew Allar and Beau Pribula. But now, Penn State football will look to true freshman Ethan Grunkemeyer to fill that slot. The Nittany Lion newcomer has already been standing out in his first few weeks on campus, according to James Franklin.

Grunkemeyer is really flashing and doing some nice things right now as a true freshman quarterback,” Franklin said recently. “What I’m most excited about is he showing flashes right now; how is he going to be in the summer, when he’s had really kind of all spring and all early summer to grind on the playbook, grind on the installs? Watch a ton of Kansas tape. Watch a ton of Penn State tape. Where will those guys be?”

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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