Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Running Game Fine with Palmer on Line

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Running Game Fine with Palmer on Line

Article excerpt

As Paris Palmer tells it, the dates were the worst.

While working at a North Carolina production facility for Ann's House of Nuts, Palmer measured and mixed different types of food to create trail mix - this many pails of cashews, that many pails of peanuts - but the dates arrived in a clump and required deconstruction.

"They came as a brick of dates, and you had to break it up," said Palmer, a Penn State offensive lineman. "That was very annoying because our gloves would get cut."

Palmer worked in the factory after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament following his high school football senior season, after he created his own highlight reel. It was before he went to junior college, before he transferred to Penn State. He started 11 games for the Nittany Lions last season; after losing his starting job this year, the senior tackle has started the past three games after a season-ending injury to Andrew Nelson.

"Coming from a very small and rural North Carolina town, to be at such a prestigious institution as Penn State, that's not a small feat at all," Palmer said.

Fewer than 4,000 people live in Palmer's hometown of Plymouth, N.C., so Palmer took initiative to attract attention from college coaches. He downloaded a free trial of a video-editing software, asked teammates to bring him game film, and made himself and two teammates highlight reels. While playing basketball to stay in shape, he tore his ACL.

"At the time I was literally just working in a factory with a swollen knee, trying to rehab my knee," Palmer said. "At the time football wasn't in my sights."

He eventually caught the eye of coach Mark Duda at Lackawanna College, a junior college in Scranton. He redshirted his first year while recovering from the knee surgery, but played left tackle for the Falcons in 2014. Penn State coach James Franklin has known Duda for years, and so it was that Franklin eventually found himself and a few other coaches with Palmer and his mother at a Texas Roadhouse for a "home visit. …

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