Blue-White notebook: Lions land a pair of big tackles before kickoff


By Derek Levarse - [email protected]



Penn State running back Saquon Barkley participated in an autograph session before the Blue-White game Saturday, but was among several starters who didn’t play.


Phoebe Sheehan | Centre Daily Times via AP


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    STATE COLLEGE — Penn State’s stretch without an offensive lineman in the 2018 recruiting class lasted about 24 hours.

    Wyoming Valley West’s Chris Bleich publicly announced he was reopening his recruitment on Friday.

    Before kickoff of the Blue-White Game on Saturday, the Nittany Lions landed commitments from two other tackles in Virginia’s Nana Asiedu and Michigan’s Antwan Reed.

    Both players made the trip to Happy Valley for the scrimmage on Saturday to pledge to coach James Franklin in person. Penn State now has 13 committed for the upcoming class.

    Checking in at 6-foot-6, Asiedu is a four-star prospect who is rated as the country’s No. 9 tackle and the No. 82 recruit overall in 2018, per the 247Sports Composite rankings.

    “Football has taken me places that I would’ve never imagined it would, and I’m truly grateful,” Asiedu wrote on Twitter. “I’m glad to say I finally came to a point where I can say I have made my decision.”

    Asiedu gives Penn State six in the national top 100, joining DL Micah Parsons, QB Justin Fields, RB Ricky Slade, WR Justin Shorter and TE Zack Kuntz.

    Hailing from North Stafford High School, Asiedu continues Penn State’s recruiting success in Virginia. The Lions landed four players from the state in the 2017 class — three of them were rated four stars — and they now have the No. 1 and No. 3 prospects on board for 2018 in Slade and Asiedu.

    Reed, who goes by “A.J.”, measures in at nearly 6-foot-6, and is a three-star prospect as the No. 25 tackle prospect in the country, per the Composite.

    Similar to Bleich, Reed had briefly left to enroll at IMG Academy in Florida before returning to Muskegon High School on the shore of Lake Michigan.

    Penn State remains at No. 2 in the team recruiting rankings for 2018, behind only Miami.

    Naturally, coaches can’t mention unsigned recruits by name, but they sure do enjoy referencing them on Twitter.

    “It’s a GREAT day to be an O-Line coach at Penn State,” Matt Limegrover wrote.

    Getting the day off

    Whether they were banged up or not, plenty of familiar faces suited up but did not play in the scrimmage.

    On the healthy-but-resting side of the ledger were RB Saquon Barkley, FS Marcus Allen, LB Jason Cabinda, CB Grant Haley and TE Mike Gesicki, all of whom have had very light springs.

    Taking their places, respectively, to start the game were Mark Allen, Nick Scott, Brandon Smith, Amani Oruwariye and Jonathan Holland.

    CB John Reid (knee) was on crutches. DT Tyrell Chavis was sporting a bulky boot on his right leg that went up to his knee. RB Miles Sanders had his left arm in a sling.

    Of that group, Reid is the biggest concern, as it remains unclear if he’ll play in the fall.

    “Obviously John’s a good player with a lot of experience for a young guy,” defensive coordinator Brent Pry said. “But we’ve got depth at that position. We’ve got some guys we’re very excited about.

    “It’s not going to change our mindset or who we are defensively.”

    Other players dealing with minor, undisclosed injuries who did not play included WR Saeed Blacknall, OL Michal Menet and DL Ryan Buchholz.

    The two senior offensive linemen coming off of season-ending injuries — Andrew Nelson and Brendan Mahon — were also held out. The first-team guards were true freshman Mike Miranda and walk-on Zach Simpson flanking Connor McGovern at center. Ryan Bates and Chasz Wright were the tackles.

    Kickoff specialist Joey Julius, who was injured prior to the Rose Bowl, did not practice this spring. Special teams coordinator Charles Huff told reporters he would be back with the team in the summer.

    Award time

    Penn State handed out the hardware for the spring at halftime.

    Linebacker Koa Farmer won the Jim O’Hora Award (most improved defensive player) while Juwan Johnson won the Red Worrell Award (most improved offensive player).

    Wallenpaupack grad Kyle Vasey, who is in line to be the team’s new long snapper this fall, won the Coaches Special Teams Award.

    The Frank Patrick Total Commitment Award was shared by quarterbacks Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens, as well as return man Josh McPhearson.

    In the crowd

    Despite charging for Blue-White Game parking for the first time — $20 for regular vehicles — Penn State estimated a crowd of 71,000 for the scrimmage.

    That figure puts Penn State fourth in the country thus far for spring game attendance, behind only Ohio State, Nebraska and Alabama.

    Penn State running back Saquon Barkley participated in an autograph session before the Blue-White game Saturday, but was among several starters who didn’t play.
    http://timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/web1_AP17112813657182.jpgPenn State running back Saquon Barkley participated in an autograph session before the Blue-White game Saturday, but was among several starters who didn’t play. Phoebe Sheehan | Centre Daily Times via AP

    By Derek Levarse

    [email protected]

    Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse

    Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse

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