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Penn State Football: Kalen Is Lions’ King with 2 Picks in Beaver Stadium Scrimmage

BEAVER STADIUM —Freshman defensive back Kalen King was as good as advertised, as was the limited return of Penn State students to Beaver Stadium for a Saturday afternoon scrimmage attended by an announced gathering of 7,521.

King, an early enrollee in January who drew high praise from head coach James Franklin earlier in the week, had a pair of interceptions — including a pick-six.

King, whose brother Kobe is also a Penn State freshman and a linebacker, first picked off backup quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson for a 25-yard interception return as he showed off his instincts, savvy and quickness for a score early in the scrimmage.

Later, the 5-11, 185-pound cornerback from Detroit intercepted a floater in the end zone tossed by starting quarterback Sean Clifford.

“Kalen King is probably the most advanced freshman that we’ve had here since we’ve been here in terms of his ability to practice and compete – both physically and mentally,” said Franklin, in his eighth season as Penn State’s coach.

Officially, it was Penn State’s practice number 12 of 15 allowable practices this spring, following NCAA rules. It was the first contest of any sort in Beaver Stadium attended by a substantial number of student fans since November 30, 2019 – a 27-6 victory over Rutgers. That was 504 days ago. The Nittany Lions were 2-3 in Beaver Stadium in 2020, with a severely limited number of family members and media in attendance, on their way to an overall 4-5 mark.

Saturday’s scrimmage was billed as “Beaver Stadium 101” and was open to first-year Penn State students; players’ friends and family; Blue Band members; cheerleaders and spirit squad members.

Next Friday, April 23, the Nittany Lions will appear again in Beaver Stadium in front of a crowd of Penn State seniors for what PSU is billing as a “special spring practice.” The session will be a last-minute mulligan/make-good/mea culpa of sorts, as the announcement of the event was made on Friday afternoon, after repeated criticism and student petitions.

GAME NOTES

Standouts:

All three scholarship quarterbacks — Clifford, Roberson and Christian Veilleux – threw a TD pass … wide receivers Daniel George and Cam Sullivan-Brown made sideline circus catches, George’s a one-hander … the No. 1 defense looked ahead of the No. 1 offense, with a large number of “sacks”… with new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich calling the plays, the Nittany Lion offense went uptempo a number of times — and, in limited fashion, featured a QB under center … especially early, Clifford threw almost exclusively to his left… safety Jaquan Brisker recovered a fumble … kickers Jake Pinegar and Jordan Stout fared well with placements, although Stout The Punter was not sharp.

First team offense:

QB – Sean Clifford

RB – Devyn Ford

WR – Jahan Dotson, Parker Washington, KeAndre Lambert-Smith

TE – Brenton Strange

OL – LT Rasheed Walker, LG Anthony Whigan, C Mike Miranda, RG Sal Wormley, RT Caedan Wallace

First team defense:

DL – DE Nick Tarburton, DT PJ Mustipher, DT Hakeem Beamon, DE Adisa Isaac

LB – Curtis Jacobs, Ellis Brooks, Brandon Smith

CB – Daquan Hardy, Keaton Ellis

Saf – Jaquan Brisker, Jonathan Sutherland

From The League:

Five former Nittany Lions now playing in the National Football League were on hand and introduced to the crowd: WR KJ Hamler, Denver Broncos; LB Marcus Allen, Pittsburgh Steelers; DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Carolina Panthers; P Blake Gillikin, New Orleans Saints; and RB Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles.

The “Crowd”

Attendance for the practice/scrimmage was announced at 7,521. The upper decks in the north and south ends were empty, while only a few students were in the upper seating area underneath the eastside suites. During the game, the Blue Band played from the southeast corner of the end zone seats, while nearly 100 total cheerleaders and spirit squad members lined both sides the south end tunnel. Afterwards, the Blue Band performed on the field, as about a quarter of the crowd remained to listen.

Scoring Plays

24-yard field, Jake Pinegar

25-yard interception return for a TD by Kalen King of Ta’Quan Roberson

42-yard field goal, Jordan Stout

91-yard kickoff return for a TD, Devyn Ford

20-yard TD pass from Ta’Quan Roberson to Daniel George

45-yard TD pass from Sean Clifford to Brenton Strange (Jordan Stout PAT)

3-yard TD pass from Christian Veilleux to Caziah Holmes (Jake Pinegar PAT)

3-yard TD pass from Christian Veilleux to Tank Smith