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Staff Picks: Breakout Player From The 2023 Blue-White Game

Penn State’s 2023 Blue-White Game ended in a 10-0 win for the Blue Team, as coaches and fans alike got a better idea of what the team could look like on the field against West Virginia in September.

While defense dominated almost the entire game, players on each side of the ball showed flashes of what they can offer to Penn State’s starting lineup. With that in mind, some of our staffers picked what player stood out to them the most Saturday afternoon.

Frankie Marzano: Kaden Saunders

This one is an under-the-radar pick, but I think Saunders put together a well-rounded performance on Thursday. The redshirt freshman caught four passes on eight targets for 57 yards. He had a few nice grabs on the day and showed flashes that he might be the guy that Penn State needs at wide receiver. At the very least, he can be a solid depth piece in the wide receiver room.

Aidan Conrad: Dani Dennis-Sutton

My breakout star from the Blue-White Game is Dani Dennis-Sutton. As a former five-star recruit heading into his sophomore season, he recorded a game-high two sacks Saturday afternoon. The defensive end will likely be getting starting reps alongside Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac during his second year on campus.

Joe Lister: Omari Evans

Omari Evans has been fighting for a starting spot at wide receiver since spring camp began. With a high-level recruit in Kaden Saunders seemingly ready to step up, that’s where many thought the role would fall.

But on Saturday, Evans proved himself to fans and James Franklin. The wide receiver competition isn’t over, but the door is slowly shutting. As Franklin said postgame, “A guy stepped up today.” No one in the room had to question who that guy was.

Sam Fremin: Alex Birchmeier

As a whole, the offensive line did not have its best day on Saturday. Although there were clear areas needing improvement, true freshman Alex Birchmeier flashed encouraging potential during his Beaver Stadium debut.

Appearing at both guard and tackle, Birchmeier showcased his long talked-about versatility. Birchmeier entered a slate of strong pass blocking reps against Davon Townley late in the fourth quarter — even driving him backward 10 yards and drawing a frustration penalty on separate occasions. The young lineman will still require time, but expect Birchmeier to be a linchpin of the trenches once fully developed.

Nolan Wick: Tony Rojas

Tony Rojas was outstanding on Saturday, leading both teams with nine tackles, including a half-tackle for loss.

Rojas is the latest highly-touted linebacker to take his talents to Happy Valley. Even though Penn State’s starting linebackers are likely already set in stone, Rojas could see more playing time this season than perhaps previously expected. He showed Saturday that his ceiling could be very high.

Brady Miller: Riley Thompson

While many question marks surround who will take over for former Nittany Lion punter Barney Amor, senior transfer Riley Thompson answered the call on Saturday.

On the opening drive of the game, Thompson bombed his only punt for a whopping 62 yards. After the first series, the next six punts were split between Alex Bacchetta and Mitchell Groh for an average of just 34.2 yards.

Thompson, an Australian, played for a few years in his native country before heading to FAU. He is using his last year of eligibility this season, despite being listed as a freshman on FAU’s 2022 roster.

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