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The Grades Are In: How Blue-White Players To Watch Performed

Penn State’s 2018 Blue-White spring football game has come and gone with a 21-10 victory for the Blue squad capping off one of the most highly-anticipated weekends of the spring semester.

The weekend gave some intriguing players their first chance to impress the Beaver Stadium faithful. Early enrollees Micah Parsons and Nick Tarburton made their Penn State debuts for the Blue team, while cornerback-turned-safety Lamont Wade and redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Clifford each saw significant playing time for the White squad.

How did the foursome fare in the annual spring football game?

Micah Parsons: A

Micah Parsons put in one of the strongest performances of any defensive player in the Blue-White game.

The highly touted early enrollee made his Beaver Stadium debut after a whirlwind recruitment, much to the delight of the 71,000 Penn State fans in attendance. He led the Blue team with eight tackles and was tied with Jason Vranic for the overall lead in stops on the day.

Parsons was active and around the ball throughout the entire afternoon, and he should be considered a favorite to start at linebacker alongside Koa Farmer. The competition was wide open throughout spring practice, but No. 11 may have just pulled away with an outstanding Blue-White performance.

There isn’t much else to be said about Parsons’ performance. He put on a show in an unfamiliar position; if he continues his momentum through summer workouts and training camp, he’ll get plenty of playing time in the regular season.

Sean Clifford: B-

We were a bit disappointed with the amount of playing time Sean Clifford got during the Blue-White game, but when he was in, he played well.

Trace McSorley played in three series throughout the first half and looked like his usual self. Once Clifford stepped in to start the second half, he played well, but was a bit inconsistent. The redshirt freshman finished the day with a 152.2 passer rating, going 4-for-8 with 58 yards and a score.

Clifford’s touchdown was a beauty; he put a perfect 29-yard pass right to Mac Hippenhammer in stride to put the result of the game to bed late in the final quarter. The touchdown saves his grade a bit, as he only recorded 29 yards and three completions on his seven other passes.

Jake Zembiec — Clifford’s main competition for the third-string quarterback spot — went 6-for-12 for 39 yards and a score on the day for the White team. If James Franklin picks his third-string quarterback solely based on the Blue-White game, Clifford helped his case more than Zembiec.

Lamont Wade: B+

Wade made the switch from corner to safety over the offseason, and everyone seemed pretty excited to see how he’d look in his new position. Spoiler alert: He looked pretty good.

Wade finished tied for fourth among both squads in tackles, coming up with five in total. Using the good ol‘ eye test, we thought that Wade looked great back deep for the Nittany Lions. His football instincts are impossible to ignore and he didn’t really seem to make a wrong step out there.

Wade takes down Cam Sullivan-Brown for one of his five tackles on the afternoon.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Wade really lay the boom like he is certainly capable of. One of the most exciting aspects of his move to safety is his new ability to play downhill and worry less about man-to-man responsibilities. In other words, we’re expecting some highlight hits this season.

Wade forced a KJ Hamler fumble for perhaps the biggest defensive play of the afternoon, too.

There’s always some room for improvement, though. Wade couldn’t quite come up with a tackle on Mark Allen as he broke into the secondary for a chunk gain. Open-field tackling is certainly a focus for any safety and will surely be a point of emphasis as Wade gets more comfortable at the position. 

Nick Tarburton: B-

Nick Tarburton has also undergone a position change, but may really turn some heads this season if he sees significant playing time.

James Franklin explained that Tarburton’s body made a position change natural as the early enrollee kept packing on the muscle and size during the early stages of his career in Happy Valley. He was recruited as a linebacker, but his strength and speed, mixed in with this new size of his, made him a nice fit at defensive end.

It’s always difficult to rate a defensive end’s impact on a game like this, but Tarburton looked pretty good. He wasn’t blowing by the offensive line every snap, but he did record a sack for a six-yard loss. He also came up with another tackle on the afternoon.

Although Tarburton didn’t do anything crazy over the weekend, fans should still be very excited. His own teammates call him “Little TJ Watt,” and it’s hard to think of a higher compliment than that.

About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a junior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Assistant Sports Editor. He is from Bedminster, NJ and is extremely obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer, including the music of Bruce Springsteen. If you're dying to see more hockey content and clips from "The Office" on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail/death threats to [email protected]

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