Penn State Football: Top Performers from the Nittany Lions' Spring Game
Penn State closed out its spring camp on Saturday with the annual Blue-White scrimmage in front of an announced crowd of 72,000 fans—the most in the country for a spring game so far this year, according to Kevin McGuire of NBCSports.com.
While most of the stars saw limited snaps, Saturday provided an opportunity for fans to flock to central Pennsylvania in an effort to show support for new head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions.
The "Blue Team," consisting of mostly first and second stringers, beat up on the "White Team" by a score of 37-0, but players on both sides had their moments.
Here are some of the top performers from Blue-White Weekend!
All stats courtesy of GoPSUSports.com.
RB Cole Chiappialle
Without question, Cole Chiappialle was the star of the show Saturday on offense, rushing for 63 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries. He also added a pair of receptions for 17 yards.
While he's not likely to see many carries during the regular season, Chiappialle proved that he absolutely belongs in Beaver Stadium playing big-time football.
He'll likely be a contributor on special teams in the fall.
DE C.J. Olaniyan
Olaniyan picked up where he left off last year—living in the opponent's backfield.
Although contact on quarterbacks wasn't permitted, Franklin awarded "sacks" when players got their hands on the QBs, and Olaniyan did so two and a half times.
His final line was five tackles, three tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
LB Matthew Baney
Though relatively unknown, Baney got the start at linebacker for the Blue Team and made the most of his opportunity, recording a tackle and a pass breakup along with an interception that he returned 28 yards for a touchdown.
With depth issues at his position, Baney could get looks at linebacker and the "Star" position this summer.
It's always a good sign when players step up at a position in need of bodies. Baney could be a guy to keep an eye on as the season approaches.
QB Michael O'Connor
O'Connor is in a heated battle for the backup quarterback spot with D.J. Crook, and on Saturday, he looked to be the leader.
While he didn't do anything flashy, O'Connor proved he could be efficient and trusted with the offense in his Beaver Stadium debut.
The freshman early enrollee completed 11 of his 16 pass attempts for 81 yards while protecting the football.
Penn State fans are a bit spoiled after the freshman quarterback they saw last year, but O'Connor's performance—for a young freshman—was very strong.
The defensive backfield has some question marks, but the both squads' units showed up ready to play on Saturday.
No quarterback was able to throw a touchdown pass while starters Trevor Williams and Ryan Keiser had interceptions.
Williams, starting safety Adrian Amos and reserve cornerback Da'Quan Davis added pass breakups, and guys like Jordan Smith and Devin Pryor looked strong both in coverage and against the run.
Williams and Keiser have the athleticism to be good players but need to take the next step in 2014. If they're able to do so, the Penn State defense will be better than expected.
HC James Franklin
After that, he was surrounded by 72,000 (or 82,000, depending who you ask) fans for what basically amounts to a glorified practice—the largest attendance in the Big Ten this spring.
With over 100 recruits on hand, Franklin led the crowd in a "We Are...Penn State" cheer and left the field with virtually all of his players still healthy.
He topped it all off with a heartwarming moment in the postgame press conference when his daughters joined him at the podium.
The world is James Franklin's oyster.
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