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Pat Freiermuth Makes Huge Impact In Victory Over Buffalo

From a statistical standpoint, Pat Freiermuth had a quiet first game of the 2019 season. Freiermuth made just one grab for 25 yards in Penn State’s week 1 blowout of Idaho. He played a much more significant role in the passing game in the Nittany Lions’ 45-13 victory over Buffalo on Saturday night.

The sophomore tight end from Merrimac, Massachusetts has earned some comparisons to former New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski because of his stature, jersey number, and Massachusetts roots. He played a lot like the man they call “Gronk” on Saturday night by posting eight catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns.

“[Freiermuth] played really well, and I thought he played really well in game one,” head coach James Franklin said postgame. “For us, I think it’s very important offensively that we get KJ Hamler and Pat Freiermuth the ball. Those guys need to touch the ball as much as they possibly can.”

The sophomore’s first score of the evening was as routine of a touchdown as he’ll ever score. Freiermuth was wide open down the middle of the field after quarterback Sean Clifford executed some play-action perfectly, and he waltzed into the end zone untouched for a score that put Penn State up by two possessions.

His second touchdown of the game, however, was a thing of beauty. Clifford made the best possible read on a run-pass option utilized on 4th and 2, but his pass to Freiermuth was a bit off the mark. The tight end with safe hands used just one to snatch the ball, and he used some strong blocking from Jahan Dotson and KJ Hamler to find the end zone from 28 yards out and put six more points on the board for Penn State.

“It was a hard catch because you’re looking at the quarterback and you have to turn all the way over,” Freiermuth said. “You don’t really know where the defense is there, either. Credit to KJ and Jahan — that touchdown literally doesn’t happen without them.”

After leading the Nittany Lions and finishing second in the Big Ten with eight touchdown catches last season, Freiermuth entered the 2019 season with much more confidence. The tight end trusts the work that offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne and tight ends coach Tyler Bowen do, but he asked them to get him the ball more in the second half. They obliged, and as they say, the rest is history.

Freiermuth burned Buffalo safety Joey Banks on his first touchdown of the evening. (Photo: Matt Sniegowski | Onward State)

Part of Freiermuth’s increased role on the Nittany Lions’ offense includes a new title: captain. Although he’s just a sophomore, Freiermuth is one of the team’s eight captains this season alongside fellow underclassmen Sean Clifford and Jonathan Sutherland.

He might’ve sat back and watched some of his teammates take on the leadership responsibilities last year, but that won’t fly now that he’s earned the distinction of “captain.”

“I was actually thinking about that on the sideline,” Freiermuth said. “I have to be that vocal guy now and get everybody going — defense, offense, and special teams. I have to be a positive person and just tell everyone to keep going. Last year, I would just be sitting on the sideline looking at Trace, and he’d be doing that.”

Freiermuth and his teammates will square off against Pitt at noon Saturday back at Beaver Stadium. The meeting will be the 100th between the two teams and the final one in their current four-game series.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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