Postgame updates: James Franklin names his Penn State spring stars

Frank Bodani
York Daily Record

Ji'Ayir Brown leads PSU spring stars

James Franklin joked that he really didn't want to do it, for fear of missing someone. But he relented, naming those who starred for him most during the Nittany Lions' 15 spring practices, including Saturday's Blue-White Game.

He started with senior Ji'Ayir "Tig" Brown, who tied for the national lead in interceptions last season with six. "But I thought he really built on that this spring and in winter workouts," Franklin said. Brown said he made three more interceptions this spring with two fumble recoveries.

Penn State sophomore cornerback Kalen King watches during warmups before the 2022 Blue-White game at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, April 23, 2022, in State College.

Also on defense, Franklin singled out cornerback Kalen King, senior Jonathan Sutherland (moved from safety to linebacker) and defensive end Adisa Isaac (coming back from torn achilles). King had three tackles Saturday and Sutherland had two stops. Isaac played sparingly but also was credited with a stop.

On offense, Franklin pointed out how sixth-year quarterback Sean Clifford enjoyed his best spring and that backup Christian Veilleux progressed well from his strong debut against Rutgers.

Penn State Blue-White down to final play

The Nittany Lions' offense had one final shot to pull out the "victory" in Beaver Stadium today.

True freshman quarterback Drew Allar began the possible winning drive but fellow freshman Beau Pribula ended it. Pribula came in halfway through that last-shot effort against the Penn State defense and promptly ran for a big first down into the red zone.

He drove the offense to the 2 yard line.

On fourth down, his impressive lofting throw under pressure found its way into the hands of receiver Omari Evans at the back of the end zone. But it didn't appear that he held on with a foot in-bounds. The official signaled an incompletion.

That ended the scrimmage that features a split between game action and 7-on-7 style work without linemen.

The defense won, for those who keep track, 17-13.

The weird scoring system was just fine for the kind of day where James Franklin just really wanted to keep his limited offensive line intact and everyone as healthy as possible.

More updates to come ...

Walk-on boost for Linebacker U.

Dominic DeLuca is a 6-foot-1 non-scholarship linebacker from Wyoming High in West Pittston, Pa.

He isn't expected to break into any significant playing time when the games count in the fall.

But he certainly was active during today's Blue-White action. Could that be a sign?

He was active throughout, intercepted true freshman Drew Allar and registering a sack and a couple of tackles. He stood out as much as anyone on defense during this scrimmage and 7-on-7 work without linemen.

DeLuca was named Penn State's scout team defensive player of the year in 2021, along with Jordan van den Berg and Jaden Seider.

He played in three games last season on special teams.

Way to go get it, Trey Wallace

Penn State freshman quarterback Beau Pribula prepares to throw during a 7-on-7 drill at the 2022 Blue-White game at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, April 23, 2022, in State College.

The Penn State quarterbacks should be the show during this scrimmage, which mixed in plenty of 7-on-7 work without linemen.

All four scholarship QBs played in the first half of the Blue-White Game with second-stringer Christian Veilleux looking the best so far. Starter Sean Clifford was certainly fine, though most of his throws went to short routes and swing passes. Veilleux looked poised in the pocket and completed the best pass play of the day so far: He threw to the right corner of the end zone where Tre Wallace, the rookie from Alabama, leaped and pulled down the ball over a defender.

Freshman Drew Allar threw an early interception but settled down and played well. Fellow frosh Beau Pribula, from Central York, threw a nice pass early to converted receiver Mason Stahl. Pribula's last pass of the first half, where he waited and then tossed nearly perfectly across the field to the left corner of the end zone, drew a quick handshake from James Franklin.

They didn't run many true scrimmage sessions in the first half. The defense made key plays after an early touchdown and led 10-7 at intermission.

Defense rises up vs. Christian Veilleux

After taking that early touchdown lead, Penn State's defense came right back with three-straight stops to tie it up.

Quarterback Christian Veilleux, Clifford's presumed top backup for now, led the first two of these series and could not generate a first down. Runs to freshmen tailback Kaytron Allen and receiver Malick Meiga went nowhere. He threw incomplete a couple of other times.

On the next series, 5-star freshman recruit Drew Allar was intercepted by walk-on linebacker Bobby Walchak.

Sean Clifford to Mitch Tinsley

Penn State's offense, led by sixth-year quarterback Sean Clifford, got on the board first during Saturday's Blue-White Game scrimmage.

The Nittany Lions' first-team players drove their opening possession the length of the field, getting strong running from returning tailback Keyvone Lee. He picked up a fourth-and-1 situation, just barely, to keep the drive alive deep in scoring territory.

On the very next play Clifford threw a swing pass to Tinsley, the Western Kentucky transfer, who caught the ball in stride and made a quick cut-back before diving into the corner of the end zone for the first score of the game.

The penultimate play covered 13 yards.

Blue-White Game scoring

Today's action will not be played in typical scrimmage fashion.

Instead, Penn State's will break down only with one offensive unit playing "scrimmage periods" against one defensive unit. This plan will help compensate for the Nittany Lions' lack of healthy and available offensive linemen and also to help prevent injuries, according to coach James Franklin.

Here's how the scoring will go today in Beaver Stadium:

Will they push Sean Clifford, Christian Veilleux?

Penn State's hyped freshmen quarterbacks will make their hyped Beaver Stadium "debut," no matter what the Blue-White Game looks like.

It seems like today's annual football get-together will resemble more of a practice session than a true scrimmage, in part, because of a shortage of healthy offensive linemen.

No matter, 5-star Drew Allar and Central York's Beau Pribula will throw in front of fans for the first time in Penn State uniforms. They will work behind returning starter Sean Clifford and redshirt freshman backup Christian Veilleux under clearing skies and in front of an expected big crowd.

Coach James Franklin told reporters Wednesday that his prized rookie QBs got more important spring practice reps than expected, which should bode well for their development. That is of keen importance. Penn State's 2021 season, of course, sunk quickly after Clifford was injured in the middle of the sixth game at Iowa.

Sean Clifford, starting quarterback and team captain, throws a ball during Penn State Pro Day in Holuba Hall in State College.

Allar and Pribula, a two time Pennsylvania Player of the Year, are Franklin's top quarterback recruit combination since arriving in State College in 2014.

Watch for them throwing to an array of receivers, including u6-foot-4 Malick Meiga and senior transfer Mitch Tinsley and a host of young players hoping to make their first big splash, like redshirt freshman Harrison Wallace III, probably the best jumper in the group.

Then again, a defensive player, especially one going after all those passes, could emerge as a bigger star. Just like last spring with rookie cornerback Kalen King.

Follow along all afternoon with Frank Bodani for Blue-White Game updates from Beaver Stadium. Contact him atfbodani@ydr.com and follow him on Twitter @YDRPennState.