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Zech McPhearson’s Strong Spring Bodes Well For Penn State’s Secondary

Penn State’s secondary arguably hasn’t had this much talent from top to bottom in more than a decade, and cornerback Zech McPhearson is primed to play a significant role in that deep rotation this fall.

The rising redshirt sophomore from Columbia, MD, saw action in 11 games last season, finishing with eight tackles and his first career fumble recovery.

In the regular season finale against Maryland — a game Penn State won 66-3 — McPhearson’s older brother, Josh, jarred the ball loose on a third-quarter kickoff, and Zech was there to scoop it up.

“It’s a really special moment. It’s probably the highlight of my Penn State career,” Josh said after the game.

The McPhearson family is chock full of football players. Zech has five older brothers who all excelled at various levels of college and pro ball, plus their dad, Gerrick McPhearson, Sr., played for the New England Patriots after a collegiate career at Boston College.

McPhearson watches a Georgia State field goal attempt sail through the air.

Early in the opening statement of his Blue-White game press conference, James Franklin recognized McPhearson for his standout showing in the team’s annual spring scrimmage.

“I thought the guy that kind of stood out to me was Zechariah McPhearson,” Franklin said. “I thought he made a bunch of plays, played with a lot of confidence, and it was great to see that.”

The ultra-athletic former baseball player finished with two tackles and a game-high three pass breakups for the White squad.

Seated in the back of Beaver Stadium’s media room after the game, McPhearson credited teammates like Jordan Smith, Grant Haley, and Christian Campbell with showing him the ropes as an underclassman. Now, he said he hopes to put on a little more weight in the offseason as he competes for a job in the two-deep.

John Reid and Amani Oruwariye are likely to start for the Nittany Lions at corner, but Tariq Castro-Fields, a high school teammate of McPhearson’s at Riverdale Baptist in Maryland, Donovan Johnson, Jabari Butler, and DJ Brown are all in the mix for playing time this season.

McPhearson (middle left) and teammates celebrate a Fiesta Bowl championship.

True freshman Trent Gordon also appears to be another of Terry Smith’s impressive evaluations on the recruiting trail, as the Texan turned some heads his first few months on campus.

McPhearson complimented one of Gordon’s fellow spring enrollees, linebacker Jesse Luketa, who had four tackles and a fumble recovery for the White defense.

“I love Jesse. He’s a very big kid — good size on him, very physical,” McPhearson said. “He can bring the boom.”

McPhearson also said he thought Lamont Wade, who made the transition from corner to safety this spring, authored the play of the game last weekend.

“I liked Lamont Wade on the strip,” he said. “Even though K.J. [Hamler] caught it, he didn’t give up on the play. That’s what we do. We don’t give up on a play. Make a strip and get the ball back in our offense’s hands.”

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

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