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Penn State spring football scrimmage news and notes

Greetings from Beaver Stadium for Penn State’s 12th spring football practice. This was supposed to be the final spring practice (out of 15), but the school reworked some things, so now this is practice No. 12.

Attendance for the scrimmage was 7,521. Beaver Stadium was still mostly empty, but it was great to see that many fans after having fully empty stadiums last season.

Here’s a running look at the notes from the scrimmage (newest listed first):

**Redshirt freshman RB Tank Smith, who’s 5-foot-7 and 231 pounds, is a load running the ball. He had a run of 30-plus yards and scored from 2 yards out late in the scrimmage against defensive reserves. He later caught a 4-yard TD pass from Christian Veilleux. What a great day for a guy with a great name.

**Ta’Quan Roberson ran in a 9-yard touchdown late in the scrimmage, scrambling when he couldn’t find a receiver. Roberson showed good mobility in the pocket and scrambled well.

**DE Arnold Ebiketie, the transfer from Temple, was impressive on the day. He was all over the field at times in position to make a lot of plays.

**This is not good:

**Freshman QB Christian Veilleux threw his first TD pass late in the scrimmage, after not getting much playing time or opportunity to do much up to that point.

Veilleux made a nice throw to Malick Meiga to convert a third-and-6, getting to the 10, then found Meiga again to the 3. Two plays later, Veilleux hit Caziah Holmes out of the backfield for a 3-yard TD. Nice moment for Veilleux there.

**Meiga had a nice day catching the ball, pulling down everything thrown his way.

**Ta’Quan Roberson showed he’s good at getting the ball out quickly and accurately on slant routes. He had three good ones. But …

On the next play after his third successful slant throw, Roberson scrambled, ran past the line of scrimmage and threw a pass, drawing a flag for illegal forward pass.

**Devyn Ford fumbled the ball in the backfield, and it was picked up by Jaquan Brisker for a good return. Would have been a costly turnover if it were a real game.

**Ta’Quan Roberson put together a nice drive with a couple of quick completions to Malick Meiga and Tyler Warren. Roberson later took and ran for a first down on third and long.

Roberson finished off the drive with a gorgeous TD pass to Daniel George. On third-and-11, Roberson stayed in the pocket and fired a strike to George on the left side of the end zone. Roberson put the ball on the money, and George made a nice grab over the defender.

**One highlight of that drive was Daniel George’s one-handed catch on a high throw from Roberson.

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**Devyn Ford returned the first kickoff 99 yards for a TD. It was a good run by Ford, who had a lane open up. But it also looked like the defenders weren’t truly sold on trying to make a tackle.

**CBs Kalen King and Johnny Dixon, the transfer from South Carolina, with back-to-back good coverage and breakups on long passes to end zone by Sean Clifford. They broke up passes to Daniel George and Cam Sullivan-Brown, respectively.

**Sean Clifford went under center!!!! It finally happened! And the first time it happened early in the scrimmage, Clifford fumbled the snap before picking it back up. It’s a process.

**Welcome, Kalen King! The true freshman CB has drawn rave reviews from James Franklin, and we saw immediately why. King picked off a bad short throw by Ta’Quan Roberson and returned it 25 yards for a TD in the opening minutes of the scrimmage.

Franklin has said King has looked better so far than any freshman he’s ever recruited at Penn State.

**Sean Clifford threw a nice deep pass to Parker Washington on the first drive, and Washington was hit for defensive pass interference. Clifford then connected with Cam Sullivan-Brown deep down the left side to set up first-and-goal at the 9.

On third-and-goal from the 6, Clifford had Jahan Dotson wide open in the back of the end zone and overthrew him. That’s a throw that Clifford MUST make, whether it’s spring ball or not.

**Marquis Wilson played cornerback the past two seasons, appearing in 19 games and making two starts. But he’s now listed as an athlete and was playing wide receiver Saturday. The Lions have a lot of depth at the CB spot, including the emergence of true freshman Kalen King in his first spring, so the coaches decided to try Wilson at a spot where there’s not as much experienced depth.

**First-year students were invited to attend this practice and are spread throughout the stadium, along with family members of players.

James Franklin addressed the crowd and thanked the first-year students for being on hand. No fans from the general public were allowed to attend games last year, leading Franklin to say:

“You have no idea how much we’ve missed you,” the coach told the crowd.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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