Lamont Wade was already well-known when he arrived on the Penn State campus in January 2017. He was named Pennsylvania Player of the Year by Gatorade and also the Pennsylvania Sports Writers in 2016. His exploits were impressive even before he finished his career with an interception return for a touchdown in each of his final three games at Clairton High School. A five-star prospect in the eyes of Rivals and Scout and a four-star by ESPN and 247Sports, Wade was expected to make an early impact in State College.
He did just that. While Wade is not the most physically imposing defensive back at 5’9” and just under 200 pounds, he has a great deal of skill and a nose for the football. With 31 tackles as a true freshman, he has the fifth-most tackles of all returning defensive players for Brent Pry’s defense. Wade played in 12 of 13 games and recorded a tackle in all but one of the games he played in.
There were not very many highlights during the season for a player who saw mostly special teams and backup duties at cornerback, but here are some of his finer moments.
Penn State had four very competent, veteran players in the secondary in 2017, which made it difficult for Wade to get more than spotty playing time. With Grant Haley, Christian Campbell, Troy Apke, and Marcus Allen all on to greener pastures, there is a great deal of opportunity in the secondary.
John Reid returns from an injury that cost him the entire 2017 campaign, and Amani Oruwariye is set for his senior season, so the Lions have players that are ready for starting roles at cornerback. Tariq Castro-Fields played well as a freshman and he will add a third high-end talent player to the outside position in the secondary. For this reason, there may very well be more opportunity for Wade at safety.
With team captain Nick Scott returning and set for one of the starting safety spots, there are a couple of players that will compete with Wade for the second starting spot. Ayron Monroe and Garrett Taylor are expected to push for the starting spot alongside Scott and may have the advantage heading into August camp over Wade. It may take until sometime in September for Wade to earn a starting spot but once he is able, it is unlikely that he will come off the field after that.
While there wasn’t much on the film from 2017 that showed Wade’s potential other than his consistency from game to game, that could change quickly in 2018. It should be remembered that he is still very young; on January 14 he will turn 20. He earned the accolades in high school by making plays, and the move to safety will increase his chances to roam around and find the ball. It has been a while since the Lions have had a safety that could be considered a ball hawk in the passing game, and with the strength at corner and the other safety spot, Wade will be free to spread his wings and fly to the ball.