Countdown To Blue-White: Freshmen To Watch
Whether you’re coming off a redshirt year or enrolling early, the Blue-White game serves as the first chance for any freshman to make his name known at Beaver Stadium. After a couple weeks of spring ball, there’s no shortage of freshmen with the potential to break out during the 2017 season. Between the recommendations of coaches to the positive words of veteran players, fans should keep an eye on these freshmen on Saturday.
Lamont Wade | Cornerback
Wade might competing at arguably the deepest position, but the true freshman who enrolled early this January stands a chance to get some major playing time this season, especially after the potential season-ending injury to John Reid.
For an extremely athletic young player, his biggest attribute might be his readiness to play at the college level.
“He’s a different kid because he’s already physically developed. It’s not like he’s 170 pounds — he’s 190,” Franklin said. “He’s got tremendous confidence, as we all saw in high school, but sometimes that kinda goes away when you get to college. That hasn’t gone away. He’s got a lot of competitive confidence…and he’s made plays so far.”
Shane Simmons | Defensive End
Now with a year of redshirt experience under his belt, Simmons has made some players and coaches take notice of what he’s been able to do during spring ball — including starting offensive lineman Ryan Bates, who said the freshman has really challenged him in the first few weeks of practice.
And well, if Bates didn’t make that clear, defensive line coach Sean Spencer’s tweet of Simmons long-arming Bates should.
— Sean Spencer (@SpenceChaos) March 30, 2017
Mike Miranda | Offensive Guard
Miranda comes in as another true freshman on the roster who enrolled early, and it’s paying off for a guy that’s still has to develop physically. Bates noted that despite a lack of size and experience, Miranda is showing well for only being on campus a few weeks.
“He’s progressing really well so far,” Bates said. “If you ask any of the offensive linemen, it’s a developmental position and right now he’s putting up a good fight and he’s doing really well against some of the older guys on the defensive line in one-on-ones and in team periods.”
Jake Zembiec | Quarterback
James Franklin sees a lot in his redshirt freshman quarterback, naming him as just one of two freshmen to the team’s 30-player leadership council. Still the third-string quarterback has a long way to go to reach the realm of Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens, starting with getting to their level physically.
“I think he’s more confident, he’s more comfortable,” Franklin said. “He’s a guy that I think still needs to get bigger and stronger. That’s a guy that we’ve had a lot of discussions about nutrition. He’s worked his tail off in the weight room, but he hasn’t made the same type of gains that I think other guys have.”
How many snaps he’ll get in the Blue-White game depends on how much time McSorley sees, but expect Franklin to want to check out a quarterback that he’s been touting since his arrival on campus.
Michal Menet | Offensive Guard
Menet, the other redshirt freshman named to the leadership council, is actually in line for a starting job on the O-line after a solid spring. After nearly having his redshirt burned during the front five’s injury crisis late last season, Menet slots in as a guard.
But one of his greatest attributes is his ability to play anywhere on the offensive line — coming in as a four-star tackle and also taking snaps as a potential replacement to Brian Gaia at center.