Penn State football: 5 players I'm excited to see in Saturday's Blue-White Game
Some much-hyped new guys will take the Beaver Stadium stage for a live, public rehearsal on Saturday as Penn State’s April practice run wraps up with the Blue-White Game.
This rite of spring in State College returns in its (mostly) usual form for the first time since 2019, with perhaps as many as 60,000 people and the Big Ten Network cameras set to take it all in beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Here are 5 Lions I’m eager to watch, looking for hints about how ready they are to play and how well they might fit in:
The 5-star early enrollee gets his first chance to show fans he can carry the load of hype that Gatorade dumped on his back when it named him its National Player of the Year for his senior season at Governor Mifflin this past fall. The 6-3, 220-pound running back should see plenty of action.
If head coach James Franklin follows past Blue-White form, there’s a good chance Singleton gets more carries than anyone, much as true freshman Noah Cain did 3 years ago. In that pre-Covid spring game in 2019, Cain ran 12 times for a game-high 45 yards, playing the first half with the younger, less-experienced White squad before switching sides and catching a TD pass for the Blue.
Keyvone Lee will likely lead the way at RB for the Blue, but many eyes will be glued to Singleton for signs that he really does have the electric skill set that can improve the program’s suddenly abysmal rushing attack.
It’s time to start getting to know Sal Wormley, who would have been a starter on the offensive line last season, per Franklin, but for an injury.
With Penn State needing to replace 3 of its 5 starters up front, Wormley can’t return to form fast enough for fretting Nittany Lions fans.
According to Franklin, the 6-3, 309-pound former 4-star recruit (2019 class) has been looking good while easing back into action this spring. So it’ll be interesting to see how much he plays and at what position(s) on Saturday. If all goes well, maybe there’ll be 1 less question mark for Phil Trautwein’s group. But for now, he’s a wildcard, having played in only 4 games, mostly on special teams, and coming off a long injury layoff.
After 87 catches for 1,402 yards and 14 TDs last season at Western Kentucky, Tinsley shot through the transfer portal to claim an opening and an opportunity at Penn State. Win-win. Much like DE Arnold Ebiketie left the obscurity of Temple to do a 1-sesaon audition in State College last year, Tinsley is doing likewise on the offensive side of the ball. And like Ebiketie, Tinsley is primed to fill a huge roster need, the gapping void left with Jahan Dotson’s departure.
Tinsley arrived in State College after 2 years at a junior college and 2 with the pass-happy Hilltoppers, and he arrived in time to go through all of the spring workouts, getting acclimated to Penn State’s process and its quarterbacks.
Saturday, he gets the chance to prove that he’s up to speed and ready to form a dynamic duo with top returning receiver Parker Washington.
Like fellow 5-star true freshman Singleton, Allar should be in line for some reps Saturday, possibly as the starter for the White team. It’ll be interesting to see how Franklin and his staff split up the squads. Does redshirt freshman Christian Veilleux back up Sean Clifford for the Blue, leaving Allar and fellow early enrollee Beau Pribula to guide the White (like true freshmen Ta’Quan Roberson and Michael Johnson Jr. did in 2019)?
When, how and how often Allar plays Saturday will give us a small hint about where he stands in the QB pecking order after his first couple of months in the program.
I don’t need to see anything from Brown on Saturday. If he has anything left to prove in his final season at Penn State, it’s that he can be the kind of leader that fellow safety Jaquan Brisker was for the Lions last year. And frankly, I think he’s already done that. First-year DC Manny Diaz is in good hands with Brown serving as his coach on the field.
I just love watching this cat play football. So I’m looking forward to this bouncing ball of energy working the field, keeping himself and his teammates where they need to be — physically and mentally. There will be a positive vibe on the defensive side; Brown will make sure of that.