A return to a more normal setting should mean the game plays more like an actual game of Blue vs. White and could lead to a few young players having a legit chance to either make a name for themselves, or remind the Nittany Lions faithful who they are, and could be in for a big season in 2023.
Penn State Football returns a good amount of production from their Rose Bowl winning squad last season, but still has some roles to fill and depth chart issues to figure out. A lot of that highly touted 2021 recruiting class, not named Drew Allar, or Nick Singleton, or Abdul Carter, still have a lot to prove and should get that opportunity this season.
Here are 3 young Penn State Football players to watch during the Blue-White Game
Dani Dennis-Sutton – Defensive End
Affectionately known simply as DDS, Dennis-Sutton had a nice freshman season after coming to Happy Valley as a highly touted 5-star recruit.
He recorded 17 tackles, 3 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception appearing in all 13 games but never dominated in a single game and saw a lot of his reps later in games or as a rotational player.
Listed at six-foot-five and 262 pounds Dennis-Sutton certainly looks the part and showed his is physically ready to play at this level and in the Big Ten. He will still be behind Adisa Isaac and Chop Robinson on the edge rushing depth chart this season, but with Nick Tarburton off to the NFL he should get plenty of reps and opportunities this fall.
Sutton should provide a good test for the Lions’ tackles this Saturday and obviously he won’t be allowed to hit the quarterbacks, but this could be a huge chance for him to showcase his pass rushing abilities and prove he’s improved against the run game.
DDS feels like a name not many are talking about right now, with all the hype, and rightfully so surrounding Allar, Singleton and Carter from that ’21 class but overlooking a talent such as his is probably a mistake.
Vega Ioane – Offensive Linemen
This year’s version of the offensive line should be Penn State’s best since Franklin’s arrival in State College, and that is mostly due to the depth they’ll have across the board.
When discussing how deep the room is look no further then redshirt freshman Vega Ioane who figures to factor in at both guard spots and even potentially center this year.
In a media availability this spring, Franklin said Ioane is the best 355 pounds he’s ever seen in his life.
At six-foot-four and 355 pounds he has all the makings of a road grading interior offensive linemen that Penn State has been missing the past few years to get that movement along the offensive line this running game has been looking for.
Landon Tengwall and Sal Wormley are the likely starting guards, but with Tengwall coming back from injury and Wormley who struggled the second half of last year, don’t be surprised if Vega plays himself into more and more reps this spring and summer.
He should get plenty of chances this weekend to show why he belongs in the conversation with the two incumbent starters. The Nittany Lions interior of their defensive line could be a slight weakness this season with PJ Mustipher off to the NFL which gives Ioane a chance to impress the coaching staff.
Kaden Saunders – Wide Receiver
Another seemingly forgotten recruit of the 2021 recruiting class, Kaden Saunders is a name we have not heard much of this spring which is why Saturday’s Blue – White game may not be more important for any other Nittany Lion.
Saunders was a highly rated 4-star recruit coming out of Ohio and even was known as Allar’s passing partner going back to high school as the two would meet up to throw and run routes with one another.
The redshirt freshman from Columbus caught two passes for 21 yards last season, both coming in garbage time against Ohio, while Allar was under center. His lack of production was not a major surprise with the likes of Mitchell Tinsley, Parker Washington and Keandre Lambert-Smith as primary targets last season.
It was slightly alarming though however that he seemed clearly behind Harrison Wallace, Omari Evans and Liam Clifford in the wide receiver rotation.
Last season, Wallace broke out and made a name for himself in the Blue-White game and this could be Saunders chance to do the same. With Dante Cephas not on campus yet, and Lambert-Smith likely not playing a ton if at all this Saturday (last year Franklin sat Parker Washington in this game) he should get plenty of reps and some even coming with Allar slinging it around.