Penn State Football: 5 Players with Most to Prove in Blue-White Game

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Penn State Football: 5 Young Players with Most to Prove in Blue-White Game

Penn State Football will lean heavily on veterans in the 2024 season, with a cohort of rising juniors leading the way for the Nittany Lions.

However, even with the main pieces of the roster carrying upperclassmen standing, a few young players will take on key roles for Penn State this season. The Blue-White Game presents an opportunity for rising stars to show head coach James Franklin and staff they can contribute quality snaps in 2024

Here are five young players with the most to prove for the Nittany Lions during Penn State’s annual blue and white game.

Center Cooper Cousins

Penn State Football, Drew Allar,
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15) gestures from the line of scrimmage during the first quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

 

While it is rare to earn playing time as a true freshman on the offensive line in the Big Ten, Cooper Cousins is no ordinary freshman.

As the longest committed member of Penn State’s 2024 class, Cousins took every opportunity to get to Penn State camps as a prospect and get coached up by Penn State offensive line coach Phil Trautwein.

At 6-foot-6 inches and 319 pounds, Cousins will have the opportunity to compete with fifth-year senior Nick Dawkins for the starting center position and could see playing time as the backup center even if he doesn’t win the competition this fall.

A strong spring game will go a long way to prove that Cousins deserves early playing time and a shot at the starting center position this fall.


Running Back Quinton Martin

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Penn State Nittany Lions Running Back Nicholas Singleton (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

 

Penn State’s top two running backs are set for the 2024 season, with Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton returning for their junior seasons.

However, with Trey Potts off to the NFL draft, Penn State and running backs coach Ja’Jaun Seider are looking for a new RB3 for the fall, a very important reserve role for the Nittany Lions offense.

Although there are two class of 2022 running backs also on the roster that redshirted last season, Martin will have the opportunity during the blue and white game to prove he should get a long look for the RB3 slot this fall.

The in-state freshman ranked as the number three player in the state of Pennsylvania in the 2024 class and the number six running back in the country.

In March, Penn State head coach James Franklin said he thought Martin would “continue to grow and explode dramatically” this spring.

At the Blue-White Game, he will be given the opportunity to show what he’s improved on as Singleton and Allen will likely have a very reduced workload to reduce the chance of injury.


Offensive Tackle J’ven Williams

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Penn State Football OT Olu Fashanu (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

 

With potential starting offensive tackle Drew Shelton not available this spring, J’ven Williams has a massive opportunity to get substantial work at left tackle.

The Blue-White game will be a major opportunity for Williams to show the staff that he deserves a look for the starting position even when Shelton returns from injury for fall camp.

The 6-foot-5 inch, 304-pound former five-star in-state prospect is a massive presence on the offensive line and could establish himself firmly in the left tackle position battle with a good spring game.


Cornerback AJ Harris

Penn State Football is replacing three starters at cornerback heading into 2024, with the Nittany Lions top three cornerbacks heading to the NFL draft later this month.

Georgia transfer AJ Harris will have the opportunity to compete with Jalen Kimber, Cam Miller, Zion Tracy, and Elliot Washington for starting positions and playing time this fall.

As a former five-star recruit in the 2023 class and the number 2 cornerback in the 2023 class according to 247 Sports, Harris’ ceiling his very high and he has the potential to be a star on Penn State’s defense in 2024 and beyond.

Proving he can play up to his lofty recruiting expectations would go a long way into cementing his status heading into fall camp for a starting position.

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Linebacker Tony Rojas

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Penn State Football linebacker Tony Rojas has been named a player to watch for the 2024 season. (Image via IconSportsWire)

With Abdul Carter changing positions and moving to defensive end for the 2024 season, true sophomore Tony Rojas will have the opportunity to establish himself as the next great Penn State linebacker.

Rojas should have the opportunity to play both Will and Sam roles in 2024 and show off his natural talents that earned him playing time in all 13 games as a true freshman. Rojas has to prove to the staff, however, that he can be a full-time starter and playmaker in an expanded role heading into 2024.

Although Penn State Football will likely use vanilla playcalling and rotate plenty of players to keep players healthy during the blue and white game Saturday, these players still have plenty to prove during the Nittany Lions’ annual scrimmage.

Each has the opportunity to either earn a starting position or playing time this fall through their play this weekend and throughout fall camp.

Penn State Football, James Franklin
Penn State head football coach James Franklin greets members of the student section inside Beaver Stadium before the start of an NCAA football game against Delaware Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in State College, Pa.

MORE: Nick Singleton Reveals Major Reason to be Optimistic About Penn State Offense in 2024

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