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Offseason Roundup: The Biggest Winners Of Penn State Football’s Winter Workouts

Penn State football’s winter workout window is officially over with Friday morning’s session in the books. As spring ball quickly approaches, some players will head into the offseason’s next phase with particularly strong momentum.

After each workout, the Nittany Lion coaches designated a competitor of the day in each position group. While some well-known names earned their fair share of accolades, a pocket of newcomers burst onto the scene as well –– some of them even in their first weeks as a Penn Stater.

Here’s a breakdown of the biggest winners at each position group so far this offseason.

Quarterbacks:

After burning his redshirt last season, all signs point to sophomore quarterback Drew Allar slotting into Penn State’s starting quarterback role. Redshirt freshman Beau Pribula’s flashy performance through the winter workouts should assert he’s not to be forgotten though.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich anointed Pribula the Competitor of the Day on six different occasions. Ever the fan favorite, Allar earned the praise once, as did early enrollee freshman Jaxon Smolik.

Competitor of the Day wins: Beau Pribula – 6; Drew Allar – 1; Jaxon Smolik – 1

Running Backs:

Sophomore running back Nick Singleton exploded in his first season in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions’ first 1,000-yard season in six years and a monster Rose Bowl performance led to Singleton landing in the preseason top 20 for 2024 Heisman Trophy odds.

Running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider clearly believes the sky is still the limit for Singleton, doling him the workout superlative four times. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Holzworth and redshirt senior Tank Smith earned the award once apiece.

Competitor of the Day wins: Nick Singleton – 4; Tyler Holzworth – 1; Tank Smith – 1

Wide Receivers:

New wide receivers coach Marques Hagans is laying the groundwork for his first season with the Nittany Lions. With relatively even distribution, five different receivers picked up daily honors this winter.

Redshirt sophomore receiver Trey Wallace outpaced the group by a thin margin. Florida State transfer Malik McClain, junior KeAndre Lambert-Smith, redshirt freshman Kaden Saunders, and redshirt freshman Tyler Johnson picked up a nod each as well.

Competitor of the Day wins: Trey Wallace – 2; Malik McClain – 1; KeAndre Lambert-Smith – 1; Kaden Saunders – 1; Tyler Johnson – 1

Tight Ends:

Even while losing veteran Brenton Strange to the NFL, the “Aces” boast depth for the Nittany Lions.

Tight ends coach Ty Howle designated redshirt sophomore Khalil Dinkins as the group’s biggest winner, with four wins. True freshman Joey Schaffer picked up two Competitor of the Day nods, while redshirt freshman Jerry Cross notched one.

Competitor of the Day wins: Khalil Dinkins – 4; Joey Schlaffer – 2; Jerry Cross – 1

Offensive Line:

Last offseason, Penn State’s offensive line was one of the team’s largest question marks. However as the team enters the 2023 campaign, the unit appears to be one of the Nittany Lions’ strongest features.

Offensive line coach Phil Trautwein crowned veteran tackles Caedan Wallace and Olu Fashanu the winners a combined four times, but four younger members of the position group also earned attention –– including two true freshman.

Competitor of the Day wins: Caedan Wallace – 3; Drew Shelton – 1; Olu Fashanu – 1; Vega Ioane – 1; Anthony Donkoh – 1; Jven Williams – 1

Defensive Line:

Amidst the recent departure of defensive line coach John Scott Jr., defensive analyst Deion Barnes assumed the responsibility of announcing the positional awards. Among the leaders was redshirt junior Zuriah Fisher, who made a surprise comeback during the 2022 season after previously being reported as out for the season.

Competitor of the Day wins: Adisa Isaac – 2; Hakeem Beamon – 2; Zuriah Fisher – 2; Amin Vanover – 1; Dani Dennis-Sutton – 1

Linebackers:

LBU projected confidence in its veterans and newcomers, as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Manny Diaz highlighted members of each group throughout the winter workouts.

Positional stalwart Curtis Jacobs and early enrollee, four-star freshman Tony Rojas both picked up three accolades.

Competitor of the Day wins: Curtis Jacobs – 3; Tony Rojas – 3

Cornerbacks:

Cornerbacks coach Terry Smith was quick to share his excitement about “Lock Down U” on social media after each winter workout.

Sophomore Cam Miller showed out enough for four Competitor of the Day awards. Elsewhere, veterans Kalen King and Daequan Hardy each earned one win, as did recent North Carolina transfer Storm Duck and walk-on Kolin Dinkins.

Competitor of the Day wins: Cam Miller – 4; Storm Duck – 1; Kalen King – 1; Daequan Hardy – 1; Kolin Dinkins – 1

Safeties

Safeties coach Anthony Poindexter specifically highlighted two members of his position group as key performers through the winter window.

Sophomore safety Kevin Winston Jr. won Poindexter’s praise four separate times, while last offseason’s turnover king Zakee Wheatley picked up two wins.

Competitor of the Day wins: Kevin Winston Jr. – 4; Zakee Wheatley – 2

Specialists:

Starters at placekicker, punter, and long snapper exited the program after the 2023 Rose Bowl, leaving big holes at key specialist positions.

Special teams coordinator Stacy Collins perhaps offered hints about his answers at those positions, most often recognizing redshirt sophomore Sander Sahaydak, redshirt freshman Alex Bacchetta, and redshirt sophomore Tyler Duzansky –– a kicker, punter, and long snapper.

Competitor of the Day wins: Sander Sahaydak – 2; Alex Bacchetta – 2; Tyler Duzansky – 2; Mitchell Groh – 1; Will Patton – 1

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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