5 things to watch out for


The freshman took over during a spring training session at Penn State.

And the rest of the squad have figured out why Nick Singleton may be the best incoming running back in the country – why so many people have been talking about him, why all eyes will be on him in Saturday’s Blue-White game at Beaver Stadium.

The magic happened on a simple and ordinary racing game.

“He pressed hard on the line, saw a hole, saw something…and he cut it for an 80-yard touchdown. He kicked into full gear…it was impressive,” defensive end Nick Tarburton said.

“The (running back) room is stacked. It was pretty cool to see them working this spring…”

Penn State football hopes to signal a revised and uplifting course at its annual free scrum — the first open to the public since 2019 due to the pandemic. Unleashing these talented running backs, including rushing frontman Keyvone Lee and newcomers like Singleton, has become a top priority for a team which, surprisingly, has lost as many games as it has won over the past two years. .

The Blue-White Game should provide valuable information going forward, especially for the running back, the receiver and, to some extent, the quarterback. Some other key points may take longer to fill, such as the defensive line.

Who will make a name for themselves at the start?

Here are five things to look for in Saturday’s fan-favorite scrimmage:

A QB hierarchy: Christian Veilleux, Drew Allar and Beau Pribula

How quickly can Penn State freshman Drew Allar build on his extreme talents?  He gets his first chance to prove his 5-star recruiting prestige on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.  (Photo: Jeff Harwell/MaxPreps.com)

The four-year-old starters don’t have much to prove in April.

So Sean Clifford should be more of a coach and cheerleader than a performer on Saturday. How can he continue to help prepare his backups − Christian Veilleux, Drew Allar and Beau Pribula? These Lions certainly don’t want to find themselves in the same predicament they were in last year when an injury to Clifford ruined an undefeated start and helped sink the season.

While Veilleux’s growth and preparation will be worth watching, fans will likely be more than happy to catch a glimpse of their real, highly touted freshmen.

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What can 5-star prospect Allar and Central York’s Pribula offer in terms of balance, game sense and throwing accuracy so early? There is still a battle for second place behind Clifford and both are talented enough to push Veilleux.

Allar is Penn State’s highest-rated QB rookie since Christian Hackenberg and Pribula is two-time Pennsylvania Player of the Year and possibly the first Nittany Lion scholarship QB from York and Adams counties.

Mitch Tinsley ready for the next step to stardom?

Michigan State's Payton Ma'a Gaoteote, left, tackles Western Kentucky's Mitchell Tinsley during the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

Receiver Mitch Tinsley looks set for his biggest testing ground yet.

The senior transfer has been sensational in the junior college and small Division I Western Kentucky. He looks polished, ready and confident to succeed in the Big Ten – and do a decent job replacing the prolific Jahan Dotson, a possible first-round pick in the NFL Draft next week.

Tinsley will wear Dotson’s No. 5 uniform and could put on a show on Saturday, given the right opportunities.

He expects to pair well with ultra-reliable returner Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith, who could finally be ready for a true breakout season. The 6-foot-4 Malick Meiga, just a sophomore, may possess the most intriguing advantage of a suddenly deep position room and figure to be a major player on Saturday.

There’s more young talent to show off here too, starting with Clifford’s younger brother Liam.

Someone, anyone, stand out on the offensive line

The Lions are alarmingly thin on their blocking front this spring.

Franklin has previously spoken of the need to possibly modify the Blue-White Game to account for less than a dozen healthy and available linemen. Almost certainly some guys will be asked to block for both sides.

The key will be to get positive reviews from expected newbies. The first will be potential left tackle Olu Fashanu and guard Landon Tengwall. Both are young but will be counted on to fill reliable roles and help reshape this longstanding issue under Franklin.

Quite simply, the offensive line didn’t produce any sort of consistent push in the ground game for most of Franklin’s eight-year tenure.

It is imperative that a few guys take places before help arrives this summer from transfer Hunter Nourzad and incoming recruits Drew Shelton, Vega Ioane and Maleek McNeil

Tight ends (finally) to the rescue: Theo Johnson, Brenton Strange and Tyler Warren

Penn State's Theo Johnson (84) catches for 37 yards during the first quarter against Auburn at Beaver Stadium on Saturday September 18, 2021 at State College.

Penn State really needed those three guys to carry more of the load last fall.

And the opposite happened as the season progressed.

Regardless, this may still be the most talented tight ends room in the Big Ten. Junior Theo Johnson looks like the role of a future NFL star, Brenton Strange should be a consistent field stretcher and the youngest and most versatile Tyler Warren might just be in line for the biggest jump in performance.

These guys need to become more consistent blockers and hang on to their game-changing assist opportunities. Some of that renewed focus and improvement is to show on Saturday.

In fact, expect one of these big, easy targets to sometimes dominate the field.

Penn State man in the middle: Kobe King or Tyler Elsdon

Safety Jonathan Sutherland (0) will make a key move to linebacker this season.  Here he helps knock off the helmet of Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta (84) during last year's Big Ten game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.  (Photo: Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen)

They are also alarmingly thin at linebackers, at least in terms of proven point guards.

They mostly need someone in the middle to show the way. For now, that battle falls to young substitutes Kobe King and Tyler Elsdon.

Elsdon is a smart, hard worker who may be ready to rise. King is even more intriguing. The freshman in the red shirt is quite a big build (6-foot-1, 240 pounds) and is seen as a potential leader. His possible twin is starting cornerback Kalen King.

There is a lot of hope for these two linebackers to succeed. The only other options are outside linebacker Curtis Jacobs, the closest thing to a star, converted safety Jonathan Sutherland and underused reserves Jamari Buddin and Charlie Katshir.

The staff is high on incoming freshman Abdul Carter, another potential middleman, but he doesn’t arrive on campus until the summer.

Frank Bodani covers Penn State football for the York Daily Record and USA Today Network. Contact him atfbodani@ydr.com and follow him on Twitter @YDRPennState.


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