STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State's need to find two starting safeties is at the forefront of the program's offseason discussions. With a loaded group of cornerbacks James Franklin is already making a switch that could pay dividends next season.
On the Nittany Lions' most updated roster former 5-star cornerback Lamont Wade is listed at safety. That leaves projected starting corners John Reid and Amani Oruwariye plus fellow experienced freshman Tariq Castro-Fields as the three top corners. With Wade at safety it will give him a chance to compete for a starting job, something that would've been difficult to do at corner with Reid and Oruwariye the leaders over there. Wade, Jonathan Sutherland, Nick Scott, Ayron Monroe, Garrett Taylor, John Petrishen and early enrollee Isaiah Humphries are the Lions' seven scholarship safeties. They would've liked to have taken a second safety in the class but in the winter parted ways with former verbal pledge Isheem Young.
Franklin mentioned on signing day the need to potentially move a cornerback to safety so it looks like Wade is that guy, or at the very least is the first corner to get a shot over there. Penn State knows what they have with Scott and Monroe so look for Wade and Sutherland to be two intriguing prospects during spring ball.
Damion Barber arrived at Penn State when camp started last summer and after a half year in the strength and conditioning program they're sliding him inside from defensive end to defensive tackle. Barber's new position was listed on the updated roster as well and again, going back to a big area of need it makes sense that they give him a shot inside.
Penn State hasn't updated their height and weight portions of the roster yet and probably won't do so until closer to spring practice so don't read too much into the listed 6-3, 245-pound frame for Barber. Penn State lost three defensive tackles to graduation and these replacements won't step in overnight, but I'm curious to see how big Barber could've gotten since the summer to see if realistically he'll be a role player as a redshirt freshman or not.
The Lions have much more depth at defensive end a place where Yetur Gross-Matos, in the same class as Barber, saw the field last year. They also like to have some guys, like Ryan Buchholz and Kevin Givens, who can play inside and outside. Whether or not Barber fits that mold moving forward remains unknown. With Aeneas Hawkins and PJ Mustipher signed in the 2018 class the Lions have to continue rounding out the future of their interior line.
ONE LESS RECEIVER
I wrote on Thursday in the scholarship analysis piece that the Lions have 10 scholarship wide receivers and seven of them haven't had the opportunity to catch a pass yet. Well, make that nine scholarship wide receivers now after Dae'Lun Darien is listed as a linebacker. This certainly is not the usual position switch, but once those updated heights and weights come out we'll see how that goes.
Penn State signed four linebackers in the 2018 class -- that's counting Micah Parsons at linebacker -- so this gives them more depth. Darien played on special teams last year so don't expect that role to change either way.
SIZING UP THE NEW GUYS
Here are the updated heights, weights and jersey numbers for the six early enrollees:
• LB Micah Parsons, 6-3, 240; Jersey No. 11
• LB Jesse Luketa, 6-3, 245, Jersey No. 40
• Saf. Isaiah Humphries, 6-foot, 190, Jersey No. 2
• TE Zack Kuntz, 6-7, 230, Jersey No. 82
• CB Trent Gordon, 5-11, 180, Jersey No. 19
• LB Nick Tarburton, 6-3, 260, Jersey No. 46
Parsons will certainly have some big shoes to fill wearing No. 11. And, Marcus Allen's old No. 2 and Jason Cabinda's No. 40 were quickly reassigned.
I'm not sure what happens with No. 19 since both Gordon and defensive end Torrence Brown are wearing the same number. Brown continues recovering from a season-ending knee injury he sustained last September.
Walk-on kicker Nick DeAngelis, who was expected to at least be in competition for the job next year, is no longer listed on the roster. That gives walk-on Carson Landis quite the opportunity this spring since he's the only true kicker on the roster for the time being. Scholarship kicker Jake Pinegar arrives this summer and punter Blake Gillikin is expected to continue taking on that punting role rather than trying to have him take on two duties, Franklin said this week. The Lions will have other walk-on kickers on campus this summer, including Vlad Hilling, among others.
Interestingly enough, Penn State's No. 26 jersey -- the one being worn on offense at least -- has yet to be reassigned. Sutherland, a safety, continues to wear No. 26 on the other side of the ball.
BREAM MOVING ON
Penn State will need to find a new football trainer after it was announced Friday that Tim Bream resigned and will no longer be the football team's trainer at the end of the month. There was no reason given for the resignation.
The reason why many even know Bream's name at this point is because he was the adviser living in the former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house last year when Penn State student Timothy Piazza died after a night of hazing at the frat. Bream testified during the preliminary hearing last year but was not charged in the case.
Bream returned to his alma mater in 2012.
"Tim Bream has notified us of his intention to resign his position, effective the end of this month," Penn State Athletics said in a statement. "We appreciate Tim's contributions to Penn State Athletics and his commitment to the care of our student-athletes and their success. We wish Tim success in his future endeavors."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BARKLEY
Saquon Barkley turned 21 on Friday and unlike the rest of us his birthday celebration was marked by signing an endorsement deal with Nike. The deal is for shoes and apparel.
"Saquon is a generational talent – it’s only fitting that his apparel partner represents the same dedication to greatness,” said Michael Yormark, President & Chief of Branding and Strategy at Roc Nation. “Our entire team at Roc Nation looks forward to working with Nike throughout Saquon’s NFL journey.”
— Saquon Barkley (@saquonb21) February 9, 2018
The projected top-5 pick has been training for the NFL Scouting Combine in Florida and this endorsement deal only continues to bolster the notion that Barkley very well could be in line to make quite the splash at the next level.
In need of some football talk on this rainy Saturday? Well, here's the latest episode of WHVL-TV's Blue-White Pulse. We go in depth on the 2018 class and talk about who we think could contribute right away.
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