Despite having a comfortable lead for the entire fourth quarter, no Penn State true freshmen made their debut in Saturday’s 51-6 win over Pittsburgh. The Nittany Lions played the same eight true freshman — K Rafael Checa, LB Jesse Luketa, DT PJ Mustipher, LB Micah Parsons, K Jake Pinegar TE Pat Friermuth, RB Ricky Slade, and DE Nick Tarburton — as they did in week one against Appalachian State.
With that being the case, all eight of these true freshman have now played in two of their four available games before burning their redshirt under the NCAA’s new redshirt ruling.
K Rafael Checa: Green
The lone walk-on on this list, Checa retained his duties as the Nittany Lion’s kickoff specialist against Pittsburgh, and had another good day for the Nittany Lions. As long as he continues to be consistent, he should remain the starter.
LB Jesse Luketa: Green
Luketa recorded his first career tackle on Saturday against Pitt. James Franklin spoke during Tuesday’s press conference about Luketa and his performances. By going off the tone in which Franklin talked about Luketa, we’d expect Luketa to be full-go green from here on out.
DT PJ Mustipher: Green
Mustipher’s contributions can’t necessarily be seen in just the box score, but through two games he’s been impressive. He has plenty of room to grow as a player on the field and in the weight room, which should only make fans more excited about his potential to be a cornerstone of the defense over the next few seasons.
LB Micah Parsons: Green
Parsons was the most impressive freshman in Saturday’s game, and for the most part looked solid at linebacker despite it being just his second career game at the position. The former five-star recruit was tied for the team lead in tackles seven, and saw a heavy amount of playing time. Expect Parsons to just get better and better with the more time he sees on the field.
K Jake Pinegar: Green
Pinegar missed his lone field goal attempt on Saturday, though the cold rainy and windy conditions probably didn’t help the freshman kicker. In extra points, he remained perfect on the early season hitting all seven attempts.
TE Pat Friermuth: Green
The four-star tight end out of Massachusetts made his first career reception on Saturday against Pittsburgh, and saw a solid amount of playing time in the process. He has firmly worked his way into the tight end rotation, and could even work his way into the starting spot if he continues to look good in practice and game situations.
RB Ricky Slade: Green
Well, Slade had a rough second game as a Nittany Lion with two fumbles on just four carries. It wasn’t the game that Slade, the coaching staff, or fans hoped for out of the former five-star, but he should have a chance to bounce back this weekend against Kent State.
DE Nick Tarburton: Green
Tarburton played on Saturday but failed to record any stats in the process. It’s been a slow start for the Pennsylvania native, but he’s also getting used to a brand new position as he moved from linebacker in the spring.
Freshman That Didn’t Play
WR Justin Shorter: Green
Shorter once again didn’t play as he recovers from an injury, but the good news is he did travel to Pittsburgh and warmed up with the wide receivers prior to the game. If that was any indication of where the former five-star currently stands health wise, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play in one of the next two games.
DE Jayson Oweh: Green/Yellow
Oweh still remains a green light but through two games, the New Jersey native has yet to make his collegiate debut. As a raw player, the coaching staff may just want to get Oweh a bit more adjusted to the college game before putting him out there. He’ll see playing time this year, it’s just a matter of when at this point.
WR Jahan Dotson: Yellow/Green
Dotson had a ton of hype surrounding him throughout fall camp, earning the “Touchdown King” honor. That being said,through two games Dotson has yet to play. In Tuesday’s press conference, James Franklin told the media that Dotson is fighting right now for reps and could get into a game situation at anytime.
DT Judge Culpepper: Yellow/Red
Culpepper already has the size for the college level, but with a quality amount of depth in front of him already, the need for him may just not be there this season. This one is trending as a likely redshirt.
WR Daniel George: Yellow/Red
George has the size and athleticism to be a contributor this year, but with a deep depth chart at the position that will only be bolstered by a healthy Justin Shorter, George is in a similar situation as Culpepper.
Red Light Players:
None of these remaining players should see their redshirt burned in 2018. You can read about each reason here.
QB Will Levis
TE Zack Kuntz
OT Rasheed Walker
OG Bryce Effner
OG Juice Scruggs
DT Aeneas Hawkins
LB Charlie Katshir
S Isaiah Humphries
CB Trent Gordon