STATE COLLEGE — It only happened once on the afternoon. The Blue-White Game momentarily came to a halt as trainers came off the sideline to attend to a shaken-up player.
Just Penn State’s luck, it was an offensive lineman.
Sophomore Wendy Laurent, who started at center on the Nittany Lions’ piecemeal offensive line during Saturday’s scrimmage, appeared to suffer a lower-body injury.
Laurent walked gingerly off the field and did not return.
A pair of projected starters — guard Miles Dieffenbach and tackle Andrew Nelson — missed the game with injuries. Nelson’s is not believed to be serious, but Dieffenbach’s status for the entire season is in doubt because of a knee injury that occurred earlier this spring, according to multiple reports.
Another likely starter, Angelo Mangiro, has also been banged up this spring and played only a few series on Saturday.
The first team line to open the game consisted of veteran Donovan Smith at left tackle, Laurent at center, redshirt freshman Brendan Mahon at right tackle and converted defensive tackles Derek Dowrey and Brian Gaia manning the two guard spots.
All offensive linemen wore gray jerseys and played for both the Blue and White squads during the game.
Further hurting the unit’s depth was the absence of junior backup Anthony Alosi, who has been “indefinitely suspended” from the team, according to coach James Franklin.
Alosi was charged earlier this spring with simple assault relating to an alleged incident from January.
All in all, it’s a complex puzzle for Franklin and his staff to solve before the season opens in Ireland.
“I think this is probably unique,” Franklin said of the attrition in the trenches. “I’ve been in places where when we first showed up, we had some challenges in terms of depth and things like that. But I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a situation where you don’t even have a scholarship two-deep.
“And with that, we’re talking about guys we moved over from the other side of the ball. Guys we’ve moved from one position to another — tight ends that we’ve converted. But once again, it is what it is. We’re going to find a way to make it work.”
Other notable names who were sidelined Saturday were tight end Adam Breneman, running back Zach Zwinak and linebacker Nyeem Wartman. Wartman, a Valley View product, said he was battling a minor ankle injury and sat out as a precaution.
Lions move to No. 1
Penn State hosted upwards of 100 prospects for the weekend, and it didn’t take long for it to bear fruit.
Blue-chip defensive tackle Adam McLean announced before the game that he had committed to Penn State, becoming the 12th member of the Nittany Lions already prolific 2015 recruiting class.
How prolific? The quality and quantity of the class — nine of the 12 have a four-star rating — have earned Franklin’s first full class a No. 1 national ranking.
With the very large caveat that national signing day is still 10 months away, all three major services — Scout, Rivals and 247Sports — moved Penn State to the top of the recruiting standings, vaulting Alabama.
McLean’s commitment gave the class a significant boost. At 6-foot-2, 290 pounds, McLean is rated by some services as the top recruit in all of Maryland for the new signing period. ESPN has him ranked as the 114th best prospect in the country.
Spring award winners
The program handed out its annual spring awards at halftime.
Gaia and defensive tackle Anthony Zettel were named most improved players on offense and defense with the Red Worrell Award and Jim O’Hora Award, respectively.
Both players switched positions this offseason with Gaia moving from defensive line to offensive line and Zettel shifting inside from end to tackle.
Defensive end Deion Barnes won the Frank Patrick “Total Commitment” Award for his work on and off the field.
A new honor was also handed out as the Coaches Specials Teams Award was given to kicker Sam Ficken.