STATE COLLEGE — Once again, Penn State’s biggest news from Blue-White weekend came off the field.
With roughly 160 recruits in town for the event according to coach James Franklin — a larger number than usual thanks to new rules that allow juniors to take official visits during the spring — the Nittany Lions landed their first verbal commitment in six months.
And it was a big one.
Four-star offensive lineman Caedan Wallace was one of the many in attendance and gave his pledge to Franklin a few hours before the game.
“This journey has been amazing,” Wallace said in a short video released by his family Saturday. “Thank you to every coach who believed in my ability enough to offer me a scholarship to their university. But after every journey, you must return home.”
The video ends with Wallace walking toward Beaver Stadium while announcing his commitment to the Lions.
He becomes the third member of Penn State’s 2019 class, joining State College High School defensive back Keaton Ellis and New Jersey quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson, who had been the most recent addition to the group back in October.
Wallace also hails from New Jersey, playing for The Hun School in Princeton. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder checks in as the nation’s No. 74 overall recruit in the 247Sports Composite rankings, the country’s fourth-ranked guard and the second best prospect from the Garden State in the 2019 cycle.
He chose the Lions over roughly 30 offers from across the country, including Oklahoma, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame and Stanford.
• Quarterback Tommy Stevens was out of the walking boot that he was spotted in for much of spring practice. On Saturday, he took the field for warm-ups and suited up but did not appear in the game.
• Two players who are still in a boot are top wideout Juwan Johnson and defensive end Shane Simmons, both of whom wore one on their left foot while watching from the sideline.
• Senior Jake Cooper, one of the many faces in the crowd competing for the middle linebacker job, was on crutches.
• Also held out of action were the team’s only two tight ends with game experience, Jonathan Holland and Nick Bowers. Redshirt sophomore Danny Dalton was the only tight end to play for the Blue squad while Abington Heights grad Joe Arcangelo and true freshman Zack Kuntz played the position for the White.
• Cornerback John Reid, who is making his return from a torn ACL, did not play but did participate in drills this spring. Defensive end Torrence Brown, who suffered a serious knee injury last fall, remains out of action.
• Other veteran players who did not play but appear to be healthy were linebackers Koa Farmer and Cam Brown, wideout DeAndre Thompkins, much of the first-team defensive line and punter Blake Gillikin.
Penn State handed out its annual spring practice awards at halftime with running back Miles Sanders and defensive tackle Kevin Givens receiving the Red Worrell and Jim O’Hora Awards, respectively, for most improved offensive and defensive players.
Johnathan Thomas won the Coaches’ Special Teams Award, while Johnson and Reid split the Frank Patrick Total Commitment Award.
Saquon Barkley and seniors from the 2017 squad were also in attendance to be honored for their careers and Fiesta Bowl victory in December. Barkley, who will be one of the top picks when the NFL draft opens Thursday, received his Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award as the Big Ten’s top player last season, as voted on by conference coaches.
Penn State continued a recent trend of college football teams using their spring games to brighten the day of a special-needs teen.
At the end of the first quarter, Penn State introduced Brooke Fisher, who has Down syndrome, to the crowd on the scoreboards.
Fisher got to line up with the Lions offense and take the ball inside the 30-yard line and run for a touchdown, receiving a loud ovation from the stadium.
“Our guys understand that a small act of kindness or a small moment, maybe, in our game or in our day can be dramatic for somebody else,” Franklin said. “On a day like today, where we can take 10 minutes to do something special for a young woman like Brooke — who is awesome — that’s what it’s all about.”
Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse