Penn State

Beat writer Donnie Collins keeps you posted with in-depth analysis and commentary

Penn State announces 2017 game themes

Penn State announces 2017 game themes

Penn State has turned pretty much every home game into a unique experience over the last few seasons thanks to a series of themes in which fans can participate. On Thursday, the program announced the 2017 list of themes.

The big ones:

Sept. 9 vs. Pitt: The 2016 Big Ten Championship team will be honored with the unveiling of a ‘2016’ on the Beaver Stadium suites before the game. The 35th anniversary of the 1982 National Championship season will also be celebrated.

Sept. 16 vs. Georgia State: All-University Day

Oct. 21 vs. Michigan: White-Out

Nov. 11 vs. Rutgers: Homecoming/Military Appreciation Day

Nov. 18 vs. Nebraska: Senior Day/Stripe-Out

For more info, read on…

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5 Nittany Lions to Watch on Saturday: No. 3 Ayron Monroe

5 Nittany Lions to Watch on Saturday: No. 3 Ayron Monroe

Penn State will host its annual spring scrimmage on Saturday, even if established stars like running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Mike Gesicki and linebacker Jason Cabinda are likely to be watching from the sidelines. However, that doesn’t mean there will be less for fans to see. A slew of players likely to be competing for and ultimately assuming important roles on the team this fall will see significant action, and this week on the Penn State Blog, we’ll be looking at the Top 5.

Today, we scout the highly regarded safety prospect who has finally gotten an opportunity, Ayron Monroe.

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5 Nittany Lions to Watch on Saturday: No. 4 Shane Simmons

5 Nittany Lions to Watch on Saturday: No. 4 Shane Simmons

Penn State will host its annual spring scrimmage on Saturday, even if established stars like running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Mike Gesicki and linebacker Jason Cabinda are likely to be watching from the sidelines. However, that doesn’t mean there will be less for fans to see. A slew of players likely to be competing for and ultimately assuming important roles on the team this fall will see significant action, and this week on the Penn State Blog, we’ll be looking at the Top 5.

Today, we scout talented defensive end Shane Simmons.

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Michigan evidently in for a White Out

Michigan evidently in for a White Out

It looks like the date has been set for the annual White Out game at Beaver Stadium, and according to the Penn State football program’s official Twitter feed, it’s going to be Oct. 21 against Michigan.

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I would say this is hardly surprising information, given the fact that Penn State has a fairly strange home schedule this season.

The Nittany Lions play Akron, Pittsburgh, Georgia State and Indiana at Beaver Stadium in September. They play Rutgers and Nebraska there in November. The only home game in October is against the Wolverines.

There have been eight “full stadium” White Outs, and while the first four were staged for September games, four of the last five were in October (the other, in November). Given that Penn State is likely trying to 1.) give fans a reason to look forward a mid-season home night game when the weather might not be so great and 2.) save the White Out for the most important conference games, Michigan really stood out as the only option. I mean, the probably weren’t going to give Pitt the dignity of experiencing the White Out (because that would be an admission from Penn State that Pitt somewhat matters to them), and I’m not certain Nebraska — as historic as that program is — generates the juice Michigan does,

So, there you go. White Out on Oct. 21. Homecoming on Nov. 11 against Rutgers. The Penn State schedule is starting to take a bit of shape, events-wise.

Associated Press photo

5 Nittany Lions to Watch on Saturday: No. 5 Kyle Vasey

5 Nittany Lions to Watch on Saturday: No. 5 Kyle Vasey

Penn State will host its annual spring scrimmage on Saturday, even if established stars like running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Mike Gesicki and linebacker Jason Cabinda are likely to be watching from the sidelines. However, that doesn’t mean there will be less for fans to see. A slew of players likely to be competing for and ultimately assuming important roles on the team this fall will see significant action, and this week on the Penn State Blog, we’ll be looking at the Top 5.

Today, we scout Kyle Vasey, the walk-on long-snapper.

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ODDS ARE: With Reid done, who will step in?

ODDS ARE: With Reid done, who will step in?

An argument can be made — and it would be a good one — that the best defensive player Penn State had from Sept. 3 through Jan. 2 last season was John Reid.

The 5-foot-10 cornerback was one of two players on the team to start in all 14 games on defense, along with safety Marcus Allen. He picked off a pass and recovered a fumble. He was solid against the run. He led the team in passes defensed and passes broken up. Mostly, he was quiet, which is exactly what you want a cornerback to be. If your name isn’t called much in the passing game, it’s because the guy you’re covering isn’t getting the football thrown his way.

Well, Penn State will have to make due without him this season evidently, as word circulated this week that Reid suffered a knee injury in spring practice that likely will keep him out of action during the 2017 season.

For sure, it’s not an ideal situation for the Nittany Lions, who have Big Ten and even national championship aspirations this fall and clearly didn’t count on pursuing those goals without easily their best cornerback. But as good as Reid is, there are positions on this team where a star player would have been much more difficult to replace with a capable backup.

So, assuming Reid won’t return, here’s a look at the players with the best odds of replacing Reid’s production on the field come September. read more…

Former Abington Heights standout joining Nittany Lions

Former Abington Heights standout joining Nittany Lions

Penn State added some experience in the race for playing time behind Mike Gesicki, and it’s a local product who will try to provide that depth.

The program confirmed to The Times-Tribune on Thursday that Abington Heights product Joe Arcangelo joined the team after competing during walk-on tryouts and has been added to the Nittany Lions’ spring roster.

Arcangelo visited Penn State during his senior season with the Comets, hoping to garner a walk-on offer then. He didn’t, instead accepting an offer to play for Bucknell. In 2015, Arcangelo appeared in six games, standing out as a special teamer. He didn’t appear in any games for the Bisons in 2016 though and transferred to Penn State, where he went through the walk-on tryout process and made the team.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds at Bucknell, Arcangelo will be wearing No. 41 for the Nittany Lions this spring.

As a senior at Abington Heights, Arcangelo caught 12 passes for 203 yards, but he was a standout blocker for the Comets. He also excelled on defense.

Times-Tribune photo by Jake Danna Stevens

A first look at Penn State’s newest football commit

A first look at Penn State’s newest football commit

Penn State’s No. 2-ranked 2018 recruiting class got a bit better this week, when defensive back Trent Gordon announced he verbally committed to the program.

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Gordon is the 12th member of the class, and although he has played mostly at safety in high school, he’s almost certainly going to be a cornerback at the college level. He’s a 5-foot-11, 172-pound kid according to Lions247, and Rivals has him slightly bigger, at 6-foot-0, 175. So, he’s going to need to get bigger and stronger — which, breaking news, all high school prospects do.

But the thing that separates Gordon a bit as a prospect is that he has all the physical tools you look for in a cornerback. He’s an aggressive and sure tackler. He plays the run well. He has quick feet. He can play press and bump and run because he is physical and has long arms, and he reads the quarterback well enough to make a play on a ball. He plays in Texas, so you know the competition he plays on a week-to-week basis is pretty good.

He just looks like a cornerback.

Penn State is going to need a few of those in this class, and Gordon is a solid start. That said, keep the disclaimer in mind: Nothing is official until pen hits paper on Signing Day in February. A lot can change before then. But this has to be considered a great sign for Penn State’s recruiting, considering Gordon is the second player in this class, joining safety Isaiah Humphries, that the coaching staff has lured out of Texas.

Doesn’t seem like that long ago when the Nittany Lions’ fans were wondering when coaching staffs were going to make some inroads in some of the bigger states for prospects like Florida, Texas and California. Now, in the 2018 class, they already have prospects from Texas and Georgia.

Three players elected 2017 captains

Three players elected 2017 captains

There really wasn’t much suspense about who the favorites to be the Nittany Lions’ captains this season might be, and the program put any potential questions to rest today when the players elected three of them to lead them in the fall.

Senior linebacker Jason Cabinda and two juniors, quarterback Trace McSorley and safety Nick Scott, were voted into those roles by their teammates.

“These three young men have been leaders in our program, on and off the field,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “They live our four core values and act with the program’s best interest in mind. Our team is in good hands with these guys!”

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Registration under way for Coaches Caravan

Penn State fans who aren’t members of the Alumni Association can now sign up for tickets to the annual Coaches Caravan. Click here for more information.

The Caravan will make seven stops around the state from May 8 through 11, and for anyone interested in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, the nearest the Caravan and head coach James Franklin will be to the region is a lunchtime stop at the Penn State Hazleton Campus in West Hazleton on May 9.

Franklin is the guest speaker at every event. Here are the other stops:

May 8
York – Penn State York campus (lunch)
Philadelphia/King of Prussia – Valley Forge Casino (evening reception)

May 9
Hazleton – Penn State Hazleton campus (lunch)
Harrisburg – Penn State Harrisburg campus (evening reception)

May 10
Pittsburgh – Omni William Penn hotel (evening reception)

May 11
Altoona – Altoona Heritage Discovery Center Casino (lunch)
Williamsport – Genetti Hotel (evening reception)

I believe this is the first time in the Caravan’s history that it hasn’t made a trip to either Scranton or Wilkes-Barre, and I believe this is the first trip to Hazleton.