STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - James Franklin began to lose his voice Friday, sometime between the Nittany Lions' first spring practice and when he left the facilities at about 11:30 p.m. - after "hamburgers and wings and talking ball" with about 180 high school coaches in town for a chalk talk with the Penn State coaching staff.

But the second-year coach still yelled across Holuba Hall around 12:30 p.m. Saturday as quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg and Trace McSorley threw passes, and he squirted water on the back of Joe Julius during an end-of-practice kicking competition.

"I thought yesterday was real good. The energy was good. We flew around," Franklin said after practice Saturday. "Day two is good, but still, we're only in helmets, and I think they're ready to put the pads on and hit."

Compared to this time last year, the team not only looks better physically, Franklin said, but the players also are more confident mentally.

"Last year, there wasn't anything we could take for granted," Franklin said. Now, "they have a much better understanding of the schemes. They have much better understanding of the techniques."

When asked which players stood out in the first two days, Franklin said wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins has "played fast," looking like a completely different player than he was last season.

And early enrollees Tommy Stevens, Paris Palmer, and Sterling Jenkins have already impressed.

Franklin had high praise for Stevens.

"Quarterbacks, typically their first day of practice . . . they just look bad. You start second-guessing yourself as to why you took them, to be honest," Franklin said. "I haven't seen that from him at all. . . . There was a buzz and an excitement around here yesterday about how the ball came out of his hands."

Franklin said he was excited about the size of Jenkins, a tackle. The coach called him "a massive human being" for whom they had to order a special helmet "from some Russian company in the middle of nowhere."

Meanwhile, Palmer, a 6-foot-7, 278-pound tackle, may need to put on some weight to be competitive.

Franklin said he has a deeper roster to work with this season.

"We're legitimately two-deep in every position, sometimes three-deep. That alone is going to create some competition," Franklin said. "We had some guys last year that had no one behind them, and they knew it, and that can create some challenges."

Center commits. Connor McGovern, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound center from Lake-Lehman High School in Lehman, Pa., has made an oral commitment to Penn State.

Several recruiting websites said McGovern made his commitment Friday night during a visit to the campus. He is the fifth player to commit to the Nittany Lions' Class of 2016.

McGovern, a consensus four-star player, is rated the nation's No. 1 center by Rivals.com, and No. 3 by 247Sports.com.

McGovern chose the Nittany Lions over North Carolina. He also was offered by Maryland, Michigan State, Miami, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Stanford.

Joe Juliano contributed to this article.