Please note: As of press time, no broadcast details of Saturday’s Spring Scrimmage have been announced. We will share those details as soon as they are available.
It’s not quite the traditional Blue-White Game, but the Nittany Lions will take the field on Saturday in a scrimmage to wrap up the spring practice sessions. It’s obviously a welcome sight after missing the entirety of spring ball in 2020.
Each spring game offers several standouts - some go one to stardom, some never quite live up to the hype, and some are never really heard from again. While these games offer very little concrete takeaways, it is a chance to see some of the newer faces and get an early idea of how the roles they will play and what to expect in the fall, and/or sometime down the road.
Here are six players with plenty of intrigue for the future:
QB Ta’Quan Roberson (#2, RS-Fr)
Roberson is entering his third season in Happy Valley, and the “spring scrimmage” will be the best chance to see his development and how he may fit in Mike Yurich’s offense. His progress has no doubt been hindered by losing the all-important spring session following his true freshman season, as well as playing for three offensive coordinators in three years. Roberson has only thrown one pass (in 2019) in his Penn State career, and can showcase the skills that led to him entering Penn State as a four-star prospect and eight-ranked dual threat quarterback in the 2019 class.
RB John Lovett (#23, Sr)
Lovett joined the Nittany Lions via the transfer portal for his final season of eligibility, adding experience and versatility to the backfield. Lovett had a steady presence since his true freshman season in 2017 for the Bears, accumulating 1,803 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. His best season was in 2019, when he averaged 6.4 yards per carry, totaling 655 for the season.
Lovett has the explosiveness to break off long runs, as well as contribute in the return game. He regularly returned kickoffs at Baylor, averaging 18.9 yards. He can also contribute in the passing game, and had a career-high nine receptions in a shortened 202 season. Lovett should contribute in a variety ways in 2021, and is excellent insurance should a similar situation occur where several backs were forced out of action last fall.
WR Daniel George (#11 R-So.)
George made a huge impression as a true freshman, breaking a program record for longest play from scrimmage with a 95-yard receiving touchdown against Kent State in 2018. However, he’s had a quiet career since, totaling 17 catches for 173 yards with no touchdowns during the last two seasons. He has caught more than two passes in a game just once, when he had three receptions for 29 yards in the 2020 season opener at Indiana.
George has all the necessary tools, including a dangerous combination of size and speed. It’s time for him to produce, and we will soon find out if he will be able to flourish in Yurich’s system.
DE Arnold Ebiketie (#17 R-Jr.)
Another newcommer via the transfer portal, Ebiketie joins the Nittany Lions after spending four years at Temple (including a redshirt season in 2017). There should be some excitement over the arrival of the Yaounde, Cameroon native, who had a major breakout season for the Owls in 2020. Despite playing in just six games, Ebiketie led the team with four sacks, 8.5 TFLs, and was second on the team with 42 tackles. He also forced three fumbles, and had a fumble recovery that he took to the house for an 11-yard score. The Nittany Lions were in desperate need of more impact from the defensive end position last fall, and Ebiketie’s playmaking ability could be a huge boon for the defense - hopefully, with a few game-altering plays along the way.
LB Kobe King (#41- Fr.)
James Franklin has offered lavish praise of twin brothers and members of the 2021 class Kobe and Kalen King. Both have shown tremendous maturity and a fervent work ethic during their short time in Happy Valley. While Kalen may need to wait his turn due to the abundance of experience above him on the depth chart, Kobe could see the field early this fall. Kobe already has a Big Ten body to survive in the middle of the defense, and seems destined to show flashes as he works to develop into the next great at LBU.
WR Parker Washington (#3 Fr.)
Washington is more of a proven commodity at this point after a stellar true freshman season where he caught 36 passes for 489 yards and six touchdowns. However, consider that Washington only had two weeks of practice time prior to the start of the season, as well as the quarterback shuffling, and it’s easy to see that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg for Washington’s potential. He seems poised to become the next great standout at wide receiver for the Nittany Lions, and will form an incredibly lethal 1-2 punch with Jahan Dotson in 2021.