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FIRST LOOK: Penn State Football spring practice highlights

The Nittany Lions hit the practice field with less than three weeks until the Blue-White game.



Penn State Football spring practice
Penn State football head coach James Franklin blows his whistle at the end of a drill during football practice outside Holuba Hall on Saturday, August 6, 2022, in State College. Hes Dr 080622 Psumedia © Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

State College — As March comes to a close, we are now less than three weeks out from the annual Blue-White Game on April 15. The media was once again invited inside Holuba Hall on Tuesday for the start of another week of Penn State football spring practice. Like every week, we observed a short segment of position drills at the beginning of the session for the Nittany Lions. Later this evening, James Franklin, members of the coaching staff, and several players are expected to be made available for questions.

Defense takes center stage at Penn State football spring practice

This week, our focus was on the defensive side of the football. Immediately we were hit by defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and outside linebackers coach Stacy Collins leading the linebackers through positional drills. Below, we caught Abdul Carter and Curtis Jacobs working on their pass rushes. The duo will look to wreak havoc on Big Ten offensive lines this fall.

During this practice session, a good chunk of time was spent on ball placement drills for the secondary. We watched as the entire defense worked on returning pick sixes, with Kalen King leading the way to the end zone. This is a sight that Penn State football fans should likely get used to, as King was recently named the top cornerback in the Big Ten by On3.

Another face in the secondary that will need to step into a more prominent role in 2023 is Zakee Wheatley. Last year, Wheatley appeared in 13 games and recorded 29 tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. However, Wheatley is competing for a larger role on the defense this fall as Penn State replaces Ji’Ayir Brown.

Passing game the focus for the offense

Of course, we couldn’t neglect the offense in our limited viewing window. Most of the drills we observed this week focused on the passing game. We saw Nicholas Singleton running wheel routes in what should call to mind visions of Saquon Barkley for many Penn State football fans.

We saw the wide receivers working on high-pointing the football. This allowed several players to put their athletic abilities on display, specifically Harrison Wallace III and Malik McClain.

Wallace and McClain, along with KeAndre Lambert-Smith, are some of the leading candidates to take over the majority of the receptions for the Nittany Lions this fall. Three of Penn State’s four leading pass catchers — Parker Washington, Mitchell Tinsley, and Brenton Strange — declared for the NFL Daft. Lambert-Smith is the only returning wide receiver with over 300 yards receiving in 2022. At the end of our session, we caught Lambert-Smith working on deep balls thrown by Drew Allar.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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