Spring practice has officially wrapped up in Happy Valley, as Penn State concluded its spring with the annual Blue-White game. After a couple days and a rewatch of the game, these were some random thoughts I had.
1. Honestly, pretty bad luck that the worst of the weather seem to come right around and during game time. Thursday and Friday were absolutely beautiful, summer-like days. If Saturday would have been another 70+ degrees and sunny day, I think legitimately breaking 80,000 might have been possible. But hey, you know what they say about State College’s weather? If you don’t like it, just wait 15 minutes!
(This just a classic joke that always kill, everyone please feel free to use it moving forward)
2. People will try to take more from the Blue-White Game then they should, and that’s fine, we’re going to do that here too. But the actual most important takeaway from it: everyone is mostly healthy. There were no season-ending injuries during the spring nor the game itself, and as Franklin said after the game, every player on the roster is expected to be ready for the fall. That is a major positive from this spring.
3. The running game never really gets going in the Blue-White game, but I have to say Kaytron Allen looked much bigger compared to last season. Much thicker and much more in line with his nickname “Fatman.” He was listed at 201 pounds last season, and Penn State’s roster now has him at 218. The idea of Allen with 20 more pounds is *chef’s kiss*.
4. Did not need a Kaytron Allen hurdle attempt in the spring game. Safety first!!
5. Here’s my take on Drew Allar — it was fine. Sure, he didn’t come out and light up the defense for three touchdowns on beautiful efficiency. There were one too many throws that were behind the intended target. But I thought he settled in as the game went along. He showcased the strong arm, showcased his movement in the pocket, and showcased his ability to go through progressions. There are still steps to be taken, but as we saw last year, Drew can seemingly take those strides at a rapid pace.
6. Also, I’m not going to read too much into Allar’s performance when it felt like we were getting an extremely basic, watered-down version of the offense. No Theo Johnson or Tyler Warren meant less 12 personnel, which was and will continue to be a big part of what Mike Yurcich does. Obviously, no team is running the all-gas version of their offense in the spring game, but Penn State’s in particular is going to look much different come September.
7. Ditto for the offensive line, as it wasn’t a day to remember for basically anyone. That’s been the story of the offensive line during the spring game for as long as I have been alive though. It takes time for that unit to gel, and simplistic play calling doesn’t make their lives any easier.
8. Omari Evans getting called for a personal foul after the touchdown, and then doing a sorry-ass version of up-downs as Chuck Losey giggled at him was laugh out loud funny.
9. Overall, a very good afternoon for Evans. One of the big questions coming into the day was how the wide receiver group as a whole would look, and specifically, who behind KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Harrison Wallace would stick out the most. Think Evans showed some nice things out there, putting up a touchdown en route to an 80-yard performance.
10. Beau Pribula’s athleticism was as advertised. He still needs to pack on the muscle mass because he looks a little too thin out there to consistently take hits, but you can definitely see why James Franklin and Mike Yurcich are developing a “Lion” package for Beau. He’s a legit athlete who could do some innovative plays with his skillset.
11. Proud member of my Goo-Goo Gah-Gah Team — Kevin Winston — had a very nice spring game. The safeties weren’t tested deep all that much, but it allowed for Winston to play even more aggressively than usual, as he made a number of tackles up around the line of scrimmage. His size and speed at safety is something different.
12. Sticking with the defense, Tony Rojas showed that he is not going to be redshirted this season. The 30 pounds of weight he put on since he enrolled really hasn’t zapped much athleticism, and he’s another kid who just found his way around the ball. Like we’ve seen in seasons past with Micah Parsons and Abdul Carter, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rojas’ role grows immensely as the season goes along.
13. On that same note, I thought fellow true freshman Ta’Mere Robinson moved quite nicely. If you remember from this winter’s Meet The Class series, I am pretty much by myself with how high I am on him. Was happy to see that he looked mostly normal movement-wise considering this was his first real football action since tearing his ACL back in October 2021.
14. Vega Ioane hit Kalen King with a Rock Bottom in the second quarter. The only thing missing was that Ioane did not follow it up with a People’s Elbow. Next time, Vega. Play to the crowd.
15. The helmets that players like Rojas and Drew Shelton were wearing are ugly. I know they are safe — and by all means, safety>cool — but they are just flat out ugly. Like why can’t we toss on on a normal facemask?
16. This was a nice game for my Kaden Saunders stock. We here at BSD were very high on Saunders when he enrolled at Penn State, but his first season did not go very well. It appeared he was having another quiet spring this year as well, so it was a pleasant surprise that he made a couple catches throughout the day. Someone from that 2022 receiver class of Saunders, Evans, Anthony Ivey, and Tyler Johnson needs to step up this season.
17. Speaking of highly-touted 2022 prospects, hello there Dani Dennis-Sutton. He was another guy who was constantly around the ball and making plays. There was some really positive buzz this spring, and despite the fact that Adisa Isaac and Chop Robinson will likely still be your starters for the West Virginia game, I would not be surprised at all if DDS ends up the best of the defensive ends. He should make Bruce Feldman’s “Freak List” before the end of his career.
18. You didn’t think I would go through this article without mentioning Amin Vanover, would you? It is CRAZY that he’s Penn State’s fourth defensive end! CRAZY! As I said in the best, he would start at over half the other Big Ten teams, and yet he’s Penn State’s fourth defensive end. Just a special two-deep, that also has Smith Vilbert and Zuriah Fisher on the three. Beautiful.