By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - He can be seen by the Blue and White faithful hugging the wing, holding the defensive unit firm, or helping add an element of surprise to their set pieces. Standing at 6'4", freshman Callum Pritchatt has made his presence known on an already skillful Penn State men's soccer team with his technical ability, left-foot, and size.
"He honestly has already stepped into a leadership position just because of his background at West Brom (West Bromwich Albion Football Club) over in England," said senior goalkeeper Evan Finney. "He has really kept his head very well, you know it's not easy to just play in different positions every other game...I think that he has really done well to be able to move from center-back to defensive-mid now to right-wing."
The jack-of-all-trades on the pitch is a freshman standout with years of elite experience under his cleats. Pritchatt dedicated his life to soccer from a young age in the United Kingdom, his home country, and a place rife with a cultural emphasis on futbol.
At the age of 14, Pritchatt joined England's West Bromwich Albion, an English football club based in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. As Pritchatt joined the club circuit, he developed the foundation that brought him across the pond to suit up and represent the Blue and White.
"I joined West Bromwich at the age of 14, which is probably the highest level you can get in England so all the coaches there were top quality," said Pritchatt. "Instead of focusing on certain things they would just try to join in every aspect, so even if you play on defense you would work on stuff the strikers worked on. So, it just improved your game overall and I think that's helped me coming here, getting adjusted."
Head coach Bob Warming and his coaching core were so impressed with Pritchatt's versatility that they quickly adjusted his stagnant role as a defender to a transitioning threat throughout the entirety of the pitch.
"First of all, he is a very talented left-footed player," said Warming. "He has some physical qualities that are good for a very tall player as well. I think he is adjusting to the college game. This college game is so different than club soccer and I think he's learning to adjust. He has a big future ahead of him."
Pritchatt's teammates also find confidence and opportunity in the young player's skillset that capitalizes on his left-footed strength, especially in the attacking third and set play situations.
"You know it's his left-footed crossing ability and free kick ability," said Finney. "It helps me knowing that we can get a lot more chances in the goal if there are a lot more crosses coming in from that side...it kind of takes some relief from the defense. His left foot is wicked, it's good. I think we are going to get goals off it, it's just a matter of time until it comes."
Although the team's season is not over, Pritchatt's experience with the Nittany Lions has already come full circle for the freshman. He began as a constant on the backline and now pays homage to his positional origin with the help of creating offensive opportunities and keeping the pressure away from Finney's box.
"It's been good, but it's also been a challenge," said Pritchatt. "I'm more comfortable outside at the back four. All throughout my whole career I have played many different positions and obviously coach has seen something in me as a forward so if it's going to help the team then I am willing to try that."
Pritchatt's willingness to help in any facet comes from his respect for the Blue and White and the game itself.
"I'm just trying to focus on the soccer as much as possible," said Pritchatt.
He was raised on the sound of fans, the smell of freshly groomed grass and the feel of ball connecting with cleat. Soccer is the connective force between his home, West Brom, and now his time with the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Pritchatt is quickly realizing soccer is the sport that keeps on giving as he gains more connections through his time spent across the pond with the Penn State Nittany Lions.
"It's huge I didn't realize 'til the first game how much it means to the public and the fans like even though the futbol is big in England you don't really get the family feel like you do at Penn State," said Pritchatt.
After this season, Pritchatt will have three more years to continue to develop his left-footed threat and dangerous versatility under the support of his Blue and White family, friends, and fans at Jeffrey Field.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.