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Training Camp Breakdown: Safeties

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's the final week of training camp for the Nittany Lions as game week draws closer with each passing practice. 

Ahead of the 2017 season, continue checking in at each position for a closer look at who's back and who's new to the Nittany Lion roster.

Who's Back:
- Nick Scott (Sr./Jr.)
- Ayron Monroe (Jr./So.)
- Garrett Taylor (Jr./So.)
- Will Blair (So./Fr.)
- John Petrishen (Jr./So.)
- Mitchell Vallone (RS-Sr./Sr.)
- Troy Apke (Sr./Sr.)
- Marcus Allen (Sr./Sr.) 

Additions:
- Jonathan Sutherland (Fr./Fr., 5-11/200, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada/Episcopal (Va.), Drew Hartlaub (Fr./Fr., 5-11/180, Hanover, Pa./South Western), Justin Neff (Fr./Fr., 6-1/187, Mill Hall, Pa./Central Mountain).

Subtractions:
- Malik Golden.

What To Watch For:
Penn State returns key experience and leadership in Allen, who was recently selected by his teammates as one of eight team captains for the 2017 season. On five different major award watch lists headed into the season, there's no doubting Allen's talent and ability to come through in the clutch, exemplified no better than his game-changing blocked field goal attempt in the win against Ohio State of course.

As Allen noted in Chicago at Big Ten Media Days, his leadership goals involve making everyone around him better, utilizing his unique energy and enthusiasm - the "energizer bunny" as he calls it, to motivate those around him.


Allen led the team with 110 tackles last year, making him the first Nittany Lion to lead the team in tackles since
Shawn Mayer (144) in 2002. Among other highlights, Allen posted a 22-tackle performance in the win against Minnesota all before earning All-Big Ten third team honors from the league's head coaches and honorable mention distinction from the media. 

Another key veteran among the unit is Scott, who played in 13 games last year and finished third on the team with eight special teams tackles. A true leader on special teams for the Nittany Lions, Scott was selected among Penn State's first three team captains to guide the team in 2017. Similar to Allen, Scott has the same level of infectious enthusiasm.

Having made the move from running back to safety in spring of 2016, Scott wasted no time this offseason fine tuning his frame, leading the safeties in winter conditioning before wrapping up a stellar spring season with several moments of positive praise from both head coach James Franklin and defensive coordinator Brent Pry.

Among other experienced returners, Franklin noted at media day that Apke, Monroe and Scott are all in the mix, especially with the graduation of Golden.

"A guy that I think is going to have a huge year for us is Troy Apke," Franklin said at media day. "The guy's played a bunch of football for us, but hasn't really been the guy yet, and has a chance to kind of step into that role. Ayron Monroe has done a nice job as well and is fighting for time and for a more significant role. Nick Scott is doing the same thing. So we're starting to get into a better situation there from a depth standpoint. There are a bunch of other guys I could name, but those four guys for right now."

Apke played in all 14 games last season, making one start (against Minnesota) and registering 28 tackles, including five on special teams. He highlighted the season with his first career interception in the fourth quarter in the win against Iowa. Monroe played in 10 games during his redshirt freshman season, closing out the year with a team-high 12 special teams tackles. As early as media day, Allen noted that in just the first few practice it was Monroe who was making some head-turning plays in training camp.

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