The Blue-White game is upon us, and earlier this week, I took a look at what defensive players could make an impact for Penn State both in the spring game and in the ones that count this fall.
Now, I’m doing the same with the offense. A quick disclaimer is that I won’t be including Drew Allar in my “seven players to watch.” You can boo, but it’s my list and Allar is just too obvious of a choice.
So, here are the seven not named Allar that I’ve chosen.
Let’s get into it.
You didn’t think this list would be absent of a quarterback, did you? Pribula won’t be Penn State’s starter in 2023 unless something goes wrong. Coach James Franklin can call it a “competition” all he wants, and he’s smart to do it since there’s no reason to publicly hand Allar the keys more than four months before Week 1. But Drew Allar is not going to be sitting on the bench barring something shocking. With that said, there’s still a lot to like about Pribula. The “Pride of York” showed some flashes during last year’s spring game, and could do the same this year in a more traditional format.
Pribula with a man in his grill throws probably the best ball he could. Omari Evans that close to bringing it in pic.twitter.com/S7FPErVgi6
— Hardcore Penn State Football (@HardcorePSUFB) May 6, 2022
I’ll just leave this here.
Nick Singleton just had his Saquon Barkley #RoseBowl run. #WeAre pic.twitter.com/h8qmgsZmtC
— Bryce Zielinski (@zbryce21) January 3, 2023
Penn State doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 1 receiver yet. But based on experience in the program, Lambert-Smith is the most likely candidate. Yes, Dante Cephas has more college football experience than Lambert-Smith and Malik McClain has plenty of upside, but KLS knows Penn State football better than most players on this team.
Oh, having the longest touchdown reception in Rose Bowl history doesn’t hurt, either.
Lambert-Smith talked about his ability to take charge with media after a Tuesday practice this spring.
“I’ve always felt I was born to lead, lead by example and I’ve always been a talkative guy,” Lambert-Smith told reporters. “I’m gonna talk but I’ll also back it up and work every day. And I feel like the guys respect that and the guys in my room respect it.”
After the same practice, Lambert-Smith’s head coach spoke highly of him. So, as of March 21, Lambert-Smith’s was cutting the mustard for Penn State, and he’ll have to keep it up for this offense to reach its full potential.
“He’s been really good so far this spring,” James Franklin said. “We need him to be the guy, a true number one.”
As mentioned above, there’s plenty of reason to be excited about McClain, who transferred in from Florida State in January. The 6-foot-4, 202-pounder is the tallest of Penn State’s projected starting receivers. He was a four-star coming out of Florida’s famous IMG Academy and played his first two seasons at Florida State, never establishing himself as a star. But McClain’s height and athleticism could help him become one in Happy Valley.
Brenton Strange established himself as Penn State’s No. 1 tight end last season. Johnson wasn’t terribly far behind, only finishing with 34 fewer receiving yards (328) than Strange and one fewer touchdown (four). Penn State has a deep tight ends room that also featured Tyler Warren, Khalil Dinkins and Jerry Cross. Johnson is projected to be the top guy in that group, and there’s a chance we see some of what could be in store this fall at the spring game.
A Western PA kid who was a standout at North Allegheny High School near Pittsburgh, Dinkins has struggled to make in impact in his first two seasons at Penn State. This is largely because of the crowded position group as mentioned above.
But Strange being gone will open up opportunities for other tight ends to step up, and the 6-foot-4, 243-pound son of former eight-year NFL vet and Super Bowl champion Darnell Dinkins has the tools to do that. Look for the younger Dinkins to make some big-time plays this season, and possibly even during the Blue-White Game.
The best player on Penn State’s offensive line and arguably the entire offense is back. Fashanu hasn’t played since last Halloween against Ohio State. Regardless of what the big fella does in the spring game, Penn State and its fans will be happy to see him in game action again.