Penn State’s annual Blue-White game kicks off this Saturday, and coming off a breakthrough season, the excitement level surrounding the Nittany Lions is the highest it’s been in almost a decade.
Finishing with a record of 11-3 and ranked No. 7 overall in the final AP polls, Penn State looks to field it’s most talented team in years. Head coach James Franklin’s recruiting process is finally paying dividends, as recruits Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley form one of the top backfields in the country.
Although Penn State has 16 returning starters, stars Chris Godwin, Garrett Sickels, and Brandon Bell declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, and the Nittany Lions will need some inexperienced but talented players to step up. The Blue-White game will be our first look at these replacements in extended action. Three players to watch:
Juwan Johnson was a four-star recruit out of Glassboro, New Jersey, and looks to replace Chris Godwin at wide receiver. After redshirting in 2015, Johnson primarily played on special teams as a redshirt freshman, registering 11 total tackles, and also caught two passes for 70 yards on the season.
Now competing for a starting job, Juwan Johnson is only going to get better, as his attention to detail has been the most impressive aspect of his development. In offensive coordinator Tom Moorehead’s high-octane offense, Johnson should turn heads heading into his redshirt sophomore season.
Torrence Brown is a prime candidate to take over for departed defensive ends Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan. Brown was a three-star recruit out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and weighing in at 6’3” and 257 lbs., he will finally get a chance to start after contributing as a rotational defensive end in his first two seasons at Penn State.
Despite his limited playing time, Torrence Brown still recorded 11.5 tackles for loss over his first 18 games for the Nittany Lions, to go along with 44 total tackles and 2 sacks. Brown also forced three fumbles in 2016, displaying a nose for the football, which will only help Penn State’s opportunistic defense in 2017.
The prized recruit of Penn State’s 2017 recruiting class, Lamont Wade was the number one rated cornerback in the country out of Clairton, PA. Wade has a chance to start as a true freshman, as he has the talent and the pedigree to make an immediate impact.
Lamont Wade also has the skills to play on offense and special teams, and it will be interesting to see how Penn State deploys him in 2017. Although Wade lacks ideal size at 5’9” and 190 lbs., he makes up for it with a physical and aggressive style of play, which he will be able to showcase in competitive action on Saturday. Penn State fans are eager to watch.
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