Penn State Football

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

Penn State Football has not been a program that has shied away from expectations during spring practices, and the public will get its first glimpse of the 2023 Nittany Lions during the annual Blue-White spring game on Saturday, April 15 inside Beaver Stadium.

Quarterback Drew Allar headlines a roster that seemingly has the pieces in place to make a legitimate run at the College Football Playoff.

But, even with a loaded roster, there are still players who could emerge into key roles when September arrives.

Here are 5 Penn State Football Players to watch during the Blue-White Game

1. Drew Shelton

If everything went right for Penn State Football last season on the offensive line, Drew Shelton would be entering his redshirt freshman season pushing for playing time as a swing tackle and number six offensive lineman in the rotation.

Instead, due to injuries to Olu Fashanu and Caedan Wallace last season, Shelton burned his redshirt and will now look to the blue and white game and a strong August camp to push for a starting spot on the right side of the offensive line opposite projected 2024 first round pick Fashanu.

While “incumbent” starter Caedan Wallace certainly has the edge in experience, having started 27 games in blue and white over the past 3 years, Shelton’s ceiling looks a bit higher than Wallace. Shelton certainly turned heads in 2022, making 4 starts in relief of Wallace and Fashanu and looking the part of a future all-B1G tackle as a true freshman in the middle of conference play.

If Shelton is to push Wallace for the starting job at right tackle, he will have to make the most of the blue and white game to show off his high ceiling and athletic potential.

Penn State freshman Drew Shelton handled 16 total snaps through eight games. With Olu Fashanu sidelined, he surpassed 360 snaps at left tackle during remainder.

Fashanu returns to game plan in 2023, so Shelton’s offseason development and ultimate role is an intriguing storyline.

— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) January 6, 2023

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2. Kevin Winston Jr. and Jaylen Reed

For the second year in a row, Penn State Football looks to replace a high performing senior safety with Ji’Ayir Brown off to the NFL draft.

Kevin Winston Jr. and Jaylen Reed are locked into a battle to replace Brown on the field and both could use a strong blue and white game to get a leg up in the competition.

In 2022 during his freshman year, Winston Jr. appeared in 12 games, burning his redshirt. He made 16 total tackles with a tackle for a loss. Reed played in all 13 games in 2022 after playing in eight games as a true freshman in 2021, burning his redshirt that season. In those 13 games in 2022, Reed posted 31 tackles, two tackles for a loss, and three pass breakups.

“Learning and definitely stepping into a bigger role now,” Reed told reporters during a media session following a spring practice. “Going into [his] third year now with more experience under [his] belt.”

Both Winston Jr. and Reed should get plenty of playing time during the blue and white game to provide plenty of tape as to why each should be considered for the open starting spot in the defensive secondary.

3. Kaden Saunders and Omari Evans

The Penn State wide receiver room is in transition in more ways than one this offseason, as the Nittany Lions are replacing their top two wide receiver targets from last season, Mitchell Tinsley and Parker Washington, as well as Penn State’s wide receiver coach Taylor Stubblefield, who was relieved of his duties in January.

With new wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, and two transfer wide receivers Malik McClain and Dante Cephas, the wide receiver room at Penn State will have a much different look when Penn State first takes the field in a meaningful game on September 2nd. James Franklin noted earlier during spring practices that KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Harrison Wallace have “separated themselves” from the rest of the pack at wide receiver, leaving one open starting spot left to figure out.

With Cephas, an early favorite to claim the third starting wide receiver spot not enrolling until the summer, youngsters Kaden Saunders and Omari Evans have an opportunity to impress coach Hagans before Cephas gets onto the practice field.

As a true freshman, Evans appeared in all 13 games, burning his redshirt and catching five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Saunders freshman experience was more limited, appearing in only three games, maintaining his redshirt and catching two passes for 21 yards.

Look for both Evans and Saunders to use their speed to try to carve out a role on the field for themselves in 2023. Both Evans and Saunders will attempt to fend off the experienced McClain and Cephas starting with making an impact during the blue and white game.

James Franklin said KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Harrison Wallace have separated themselves at wide receiver

— Alex Rocco (@AlexRocco13_) March 28, 2023

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Robert Casturo

Expertise: College Football, Penn State Football Education: Saint Vincent College, Penn State Law School Location: Washington, DC Experience: Robert Casturo has covered Penn State football for NittanyCentral since 2022. Casturo previously covered Penn State football through a social media presence (@PSU_FB_Thoughts on X) since 2019. Casturo earned his bachelor's degree from Saint Vincent College in 2015, where he was a punter for 1 season on the Saint Vincent College football team and worked in the athletic department for 2 years as a student manager. Casturo earned his JD from Penn State Law in 2018 where he was a senior editor of the Penn State Law Review.