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Updated: 2018-04-21T16:58:51-04:00


Blue 21, White 10: Penn State Spring Game Recap


It was a great day for football and the team and community had a wonderful showing. The weather this spring in Happy Valley has been somewhat unpleasant but it broke just in time for the annual Blue-White game. It was sixty-degrees and sunny inside of Beaver Stadium for the 3 p.m. start. Many of the tailgating fans were making their way into the stadium as play began. Mac Hippenhammer caught a pass from Trace McSorley on the first play of the game. Two Miles Sanders carries were good enough for the initial first down. McSorley led the team down the field with a few carries of his own from scrimmage. Hippenhammer caught a six-yard pass for the first touchdown of the game. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> Pat Chambers was interviewed early during the Big Ten broadcast. It is expected that the Penn State basketball coach will soon sign a long-term contract following a great NIT Championship season. There were many members of the Penn State community in attendance to enjoy the festivities. The first series on defense went well for the blue side, which featured the starters that were available to play. After a couple of short gains, it forced a Blake Gillikin punt. Mark Allen had a few great plays on the next drive with the starting offense before coming off the field walking gingerly. He returned following the break for the end of the first quarter and had some nice carries on the drive. KJ Hamler showed a flash of speed on a play that nearly went for a touchdown before Allen finished off the drive with a solid run. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> Nick Tarburton and Micah Parsons made their debuts on the following drive for the blue defense. The two young defensive players have been greatly anticipated and they passed the eyeball test. Keegan Michael-Key made a comedic appearance on the sideline, with James Franklin joining in, between the first-half action. Shortly after, Justin Vranic made a tackle for the white squad. Vranic is a seldom-used linebacker, he had just one tackle in 2017, but the Blue-White game is a chance for players such as he to run around and make some plays. There was a wide variety of appearances, both on and off the field, during the broadcast. Freshman linebacker Jesse Luketa recovered a fumble later in the drive. On the play, redshirt freshman KJ Hamler made a nice catch but then fumbled while running. Lamont Wade caused the fumble, reaching in from behind while making the tackle from his spot at safety. Sean Clifford relieved Trace McSorley as Tommy Stevens is recovering from a foot injury and was held out of the game. Clifford led a brief drive just before halftime in his first experience with the Lions. After a short break, Keegan Michael-Key led the Penn State team out of the locker room. He was interviewed by former Lion Anthony Adams afterwards. Keegan Michael-Key called the first play for the second-half and we are underway.— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) April 21, 2018 Make this happen please. But enough about us! Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record tells us who will take over the game and what it means. John McGonigal of the CDT has observations on the last “full go” practice before Saturday’s kick. And Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call talks Nick Scott and Brandon Polk. Basically, this weekend should be fun. Pray for good weather and no injuries. Be safe, and say hi to Keegan Michael Key for me. [...]

6 Players to Watch at the Blue-White Game


Let’s take a sneak peek at some of the more intriguing players who could play a major role for the Nittany Lions in 2018. It can be difficult to extrapolate much useful information from a spring game, which when you get down to it, is still a practice session that doubles as an event to quench the thirst for football of fans during the eight-month long offseason. However, there’s still the opportunity for some key takeaways, especially as Penn State prepares to replace several players who held starring roles during the past few seasons. Without any further ado, here are a few key players to keep a close eye on during Saturday’s Blue-White Game: OLB Micah Parsons (#11)- Penn State’s latest prize recruit may be pound-for-pound the most talented player to enter college football this season. By enrolling in January, Parsons is fully embedded in spring practice and has an outstanding shot to be a starter from day one as a true freshman. Parsons may be depended upon to start at outside linebacker because of a lack of returning talent, but has all the tools to quickly become a star at the next level. The Blue-White Game will be an excellent opportunity to showcase his skills and get a basic idea if he might develop into an impact player by September. WR KJ Hamler (#1)- If you’ve been paying attention to practice reports, you’ve noticed the constant buzz surrounding Hamler. He may be one of the smallest receivers on the team (Hamler and Brandon Polk both stand at 5’9’’, with Hamler having a one-pound advantage), he has used his blazing speed and route-running abilities to give the secondary fits throughout spring camp. Hamler will be lining up at the ‘Z’ spot, and could push Polk for a starting position as a redshirt freshman. With so much returning and potential talent at the skill positions, Hamler could become a dangerous X-factor on offense to help stretch the field and do some damage in open space. S Garrett Taylor (#17)- When Lamont Wade was moved to safety after playing as a cornerback his freshman season, it was somewhat assumed he would line up as the starter next to Nick Scott. However, it seems like the experienced Taylor has been getting the lions share of snaps with the first-team throughout the spring. Taylor came to Penn State as a highly-regarded four-star prospect, and has been patiently waiting his turn to see regular time on defense. In the meantime, he’s performed as a special teams ace and has shown his ability to make devastating hits. Now it seems his time has come to make the most of his opportunity as he looks to become a major contributor in the secondary. MLB Ellis Brooks (#13)- With both Jason Cabinda and Brandon Smith out of eligibility, the middle linebacker spot is wide open. Brooks might be the guy to claim the spot that Cabinda has held for the past few years. It may be a tall task for a redshirt freshman, but the four-star prospect could be ready to become the quarterback of the defense. This is his second year in spring camp after enrolling early in 2017, and took a redshirt to learn from the senior mentors on how to fit in Brent Pry’s defense. Saturday will be a big test to gauge Brooks abilities to be the man in the middle. DT Fred Hansard (#53)- Penn State will be looking to some younger players to provide depth behind starters Kevin Givens and Robert Windsor, and Hansard should be right in the thick of things. The massive redshirt freshman is the largest defensive tackle on the roster at 6’3’’, 315 lbs., but also has the athleticism to be a disruptive force in the backfield. The New Jersey product selected Penn State from an offer sheet of a “who’s who” of college football powerhouses, ranked as the eighth-best DT in his class. He was able to use a redshirt season to adjust to the collegiate game thanks to the depth at the position in 2017, but now he should be ready to step in and play a large part in Sean Spencer’s rotation from day one. QB Sean Clifford (#14)- With Tommy Stevens recent announcement that[...]

So You Drafted Grant Haley...



Despite his lack of size, this cornerback could make a large impact on both defense and special teams in the NFL.

The Skinny

Grant Haley was an impact player at Penn State from his first year on campus, and went on to be a part of one of the greatest special teams plays in Penn State history, and has put himself firmly in the NFL Draft conversation.

The cornerback returned a then-Nittany Lion record 34 kickoffs as a freshman in 2014 and had more than 650 return yards, while making 18 tackles on defense. Haley also returned his first career interception 30 yards for a touchdown against Temple. As a sophomore, the Georgia native started 11 games and picked off two passes. Haley’s junior year was not his most statistically significant (partially due to him missing the first four games), but he certainly made the biggest impact on the field against both Ohio State...

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Haley was named captain prior to senior year. His 2017 season started off well against Pittsburgh, picking off a pass to set up a touchdown and sacking quarterback Max Browne, leading to another score. This prompted a certain writer to make a bold claim regarding Haley’s career. Haley was selected as a Thorpe Award semifinalist and finished with 40 tackles and two sacks, as well as the aforementioned interception.

What You’re Getting

Haley ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the Combine, and was described by Mike Mayock as “one of the most undervalued defensive backs in the draft.” At just 5’9’’, Haley may not see the field as a starter, but could make an immediate impact at both nickel corner and on special teams, where he first got his start at Penn State. Currently he is projected to land in either round five or six in this year’s draft.

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NFL Draft Profile

BSD Blue-White Position Preview: Defensive Tackle


The starting duo is clear, but the rest of the rotation remains an unknown with several unproven redshirt freshman fighting for playing time. The law firm of Cothren and Cothran have graduated, leaving us with two players who have seen more than 100 live-action snaps of collegiate football. The Blue-White game will give a cadre of inexperienced players a chance to alleviate our concerns about the depth of Penn State’s interior line. The Starters This is the easy part. There’s almost no doubt that Kevin Givens (RS JR) and Robert Windsor (RS JR) will be the starting defensive tackles when the season kicks off against Appalachian State in September. While undersized, Givens is the most experienced of the returning DTs, and his strength and quickness off the line allow him to penetrate the line of scrimmage to make tackles in the backfield. He’ll be joined by Robert Windsor whose size and footwork should allow him to clog up the interior of the defense. Despite losing the two starters from 2017, Penn State won’t lose much in terms of talent, and both Givens and Windsor have some untapped potential. The Reserves Spring practice has provided some glimpses of an unproven cast of supporting actors for Penn State’s defensive tackle two-deep. Still, it would help if one or two of these players can deliver a strong performance on Saturday to raise the confidence in the depth of the interior line. As Andrew Callahan at 247Sports noted, while the unknown at MLB and Safety is concerning, the starting DTs have only played 45% of snaps for Penn State the past two years. Meaning the depth behind Givens and Windsor will be crucial due to the amount Sean Spencer rotates his personnel. Fred Hansard (RS FR), a four-star recruit in the 2017 class, has recently stepped forward as the most promising of the reserves. His combination of size and strength may be the best of the bunch (including the starters), but he still needs to adjust to the game after taking a redshirt year as a freshman. He should prove valuable stopping the run, but it will take some time before he’s a complete player. Antonio Shelton (RS SO) has the most experience of the reserves, and that should earn him playing time over players like Damion Barber (RS FR) and Corey Bolds (RS FR). While Barber and Bolds may have higher ceilings, Shelton knows the position and will likely be above the two freshman to start the season. Ellison Jordan (RS SO) would have been a prime candidate to backup Givens and Windsor, but he has been sidelined all spring with a broken kneecap. If he returns early enough in the summer, he has a good chance to compete with Hansard to be the first-off-the-bench for Spencer. Outlook The depth behind Givens and Windsor at defensive tackle is concerning, and it will be even more concerning if none of the reserves are able to distinguish themselves from the pack on Saturday. If Fred Hansard, Antonio Shelton, Corey Bolds or Damion Barber are unable to make an impact, prepare for several months of articles bemoaning Penn State’s inability to stop the run during key losses last year - and why that trend will continue. If even just one of them can make a few big plays, it should relieve some stress about the interior line. Heading into summer Penn State will add 2018 recruits PJ Mustipher and Aeneas Hawkins at DT, but we’ll have more on their potential impact as the season nears. [...]

Blessed & Honored: Blue-White Weekend Visitors


You are going to need to sit down for this one. While Blue-White weekend caps off spring practices for Penn State, it also gives the coaching staff an incredible opportunity to host a big recruiting weekend. And folks, when I say a big recruiting weekend, I mean a big recruiting weekend. I’ve been following recruiting heavily since the 2010 class, and I can’t remember the last time this many top uncommitted prospects were in town for the spring game. Let’s get to the confirmed list so far: RB Devyn Ford (OV) WR Ja’Markis Weston (OV) WR Julian Fleming (2020) OT Xavier Truss OG Caedan Wallace OG Saleem Wormley DT Antonio Alfano DT Rodas Johnson DT Bryan Bresee (2020) DT Tre Williams (2020) DE Zach Harrison (OV) DE David Ojabo LB Owen Pappoe (OV) LB Andre White Jr. DB Tyler Rudolph (OV) DB Cam’Ron Kelly (OV) DB DeMarcco Hellams CB Marquis Wilson (OV) CB Jaden Davis (OV) CB Luke Hill (2020) ATH Ronald Thompkins (OV) As for potential commitments, it doesn’t take a genius to realize Penn State isn’t getting out of the weekend without a #WeAre...Better tweet. Obviously, the $64,000 question is who? Personally, I’d keep an eye on the offensive line. Saleem Wormley is back for his second weekend in a row, and might have done a little foreshadowing on twitter earlier this week. Although, he did just tweet out that his Notre Dame official visit is set for June so that could be a holdup. Caedan Wallace is another prospect I know is high on Penn State, and as he told me at the Nike Camp, whenever it feels right, that’s when he’ll commit. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if it’s this weekend. Outside of the offensive line, Andre White is always a candidate when he’s on campus, but I know he wants to take an official to USC. The Connecticut secondary duo of Tyler Rudolph and Marquis Wilson are in the same boat — very high on Penn State, but want to take more visits. In past years, I think a lot of these guys would have been committed by now — whether to Penn State or other schools — but the implementation of spring officials has kept them on the board longer than anticipated. While that could still be the case after this weekend, you have to think a couple of these guys come to the realization that Penn State is the school for them. Last week, Oklahoma landed four commitments over their spring game weekend, and then added two more in the following days. While I don’t think the Nittany Lions will be quite as successful, I do think we’ll see commitments — that’s plural — over the weekend. [...]