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Backup LB leaves PSU for personal reasons

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - A backup linebacker who didn't play in 2012 after becoming the first signee with Penn State since the NCAA announced sanctions has left the Nittany Lions.

Coach Bill O'Brien announced on the team's Twitter account that Brennan Franklin had departed for personal reasons.

The freshman never entered a game for Penn State. A native of Peoria, Ariz., Franklin was set to attend junior college at Eastern Arizona before accepting a last-minute scholarship offer in late July.

He committed to Penn State after the NCAA levied sanctions including scholarship reductions on July 23.

Backup tailback Curtis Dukes also left the team this week, while five freshmen arrived as early enrollees including tight end Adam Breneman.

O'Brien also welcomed two walk-ons as early arrivals to boost depth at quarterback in freshmen D.J. Crook, of West Barnstable, Mass., and Austin Whipple, of Westlake, Ohio. Whipple's father, Mark, is a coaching veteran who most recently was an assistant for the Cleveland Browns.

Last year's backup, Steven Bench, and junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson are also on the roster. They're expected to compete for the starting job in spring practice, with prospect Christian Hackenberg expected to commit to Penn State in February and join the team over the summer.

Football scholarships are precious commodities now at Penn State. The NCAA - as part of its landmark punishment of the program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal - reduced the maximum number of scholarships that Penn State could offer each year from 25 to 15 for a four-year period, starting with the 2013 recruiting class.

However, early enrollees technically count against the previous year's tally, Meaning the 2013 class could include up to 20 players.

Also, Penn State can't have more than 65 scholarship players at any time for a four-year period starting in 2014, down from 85.

The scholarship reductions mean O'Brien will have to rely more heavily on walk-ons to fill depth. They're now called ``run-ons'' at Penn State because of the need to show hustle on the practice field.

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