Penn State could play several young players, who will be pivotal to the Nittany Lions’ future in Saturday’s home finale against Rutgers
Penn State will face Rutgers on Saturday looking for win No. 7. While Saturday’s game will be senior day for the Nittany Lions, it may be a game highlighted by youngsters.
Between injuries, reports of players being sick and the fact that this game is a good opportunity to get underclassmen involved, we could see some freshmen in-game action for the first time this season, while others see an increased role.
Players who could get their first taste of game action include Landon Tengwall and Christian Veilleux. Tengwall, the highest rated recruit in Penn State’s 2020 class, could get his first game action on Saturday as Penn State tries to reshuffle the offensive line and find a unit that works. In addition to that, head coach James Franklin noted after practice on Wednesday that a few offensive linemen are among those dealing with illness.
Franklin also noted that Veilleux is now the No. 2 quarterback behind Sean Clifford. With Clifford’s injury issues and the possibility that Penn State could have a comfortable lead late in the game, Veilleux should be prepared to get some snaps under center at Beaver Stadium Saturday.
Young Nittany Lions who could see an increased role on Saturday include Olu Fashanu, Nick Dawkins, Zuriah Fisher, Kobe King, Tyler Elsdon, Jimmy Christ and Jaylen Reed.
Like Tengwall, Fashanu, Dawkins and Christ could play into Saturday’s offensive line rotation if starters are in fact out with illness and with the staff looking for a spark on the line. Fisher saw time at defensive end against Maryland, when Jesse Luketa was out with an injury, with a lack of depth at the position, the redshirt freshman will have a chance to prove himself moving forward.
Elsdon has started to see more action as the year has gone on, and that shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering a lack of depth at linebacker. As for King, the true freshman is in danger of losing his redshirt if he plays in one more game this season. All of King’s playing time came early in the year, so it looks like the plan was to redshirt him, but if the illness outbreak that has hit the offensive line, hit the linebackers, that plan may need to be rethought. As for Reed, the true freshman safety has already played in five games, so his redshirt is gone. With a redshirt no longer an option, Reed should work into the safety rotation the rest of the season.