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April 17, 2013
By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions have one practice remaining before taking the field on Saturday at noon (Live on BTN) for the annual Blue-White Game. As is the case every year, the Blue-White Game is the final time Penn State will be on the field as a collective unit with the coaching staff before fall camp begins in early August.
Through 13 spring practices, the Nittany Lions have made good strides on both sides of the ball. Among numerous young players who have taken steps towards playing time in the fall, check out six new faces who have emerged as contributors during spring practice. In addition to these six, it has collectively been a good spring for the young talent on Penn State's roster.
#5 Nyeem Wartman | LB | Redshirt Freshman
Redshirt freshman Nyeem Wartman is among the trio of linebackers leading the unit during spring practice. Lining up alongside veteran Glenn Carson and rising junior Mike Hull, Wartman has improved with each passing day since spring drills began on March 18. The Philadelphia native is an athletic linebacker with good size and a willingness to learn every time he watches film or steps onto the practice field. Wartman saw action in the first two games of 2012 before an injury sidelined him. Wartman had a strong winter in the weight room, and he has carried that over into a very good string of practices during spring drills. He is poised to play a significant role on the defense in 2013.
#7 Eugene Lewis | WR | Redshirt Freshman
Eugene Lewis played an instrumental role on the Dirty Show Squad in 2012, often making big plays against the first team defense. Lewis' athleticism played a big role in helping prepare the Nittany Lions for their upcoming opponents in the fall, even playing the part of opposing quarterbacks from time to time. Ready to step into a much more prominent role in 2013, Lewis has been a big boost for the Penn State receiving corps this spring. An instinctive route runner with strong hands, Lewis has the tools to be a significant contributor for the Nittany Lion offense moving forward.
#9 Jordan Lucas | CB | Sophomore
Sophomore Jordan Lucas saw action in all 12 games on special teams last fall. After a good winter conditioning period, the sophomore defensive back is one of numerous young players who have provided added depth to the secondary during the spring season. Lucas is a strong candidate to play a central role in the Penn State defensive backfield when fall camp begins. Possessing good speed and footwork, Lucas is an ultra-competitive player every time he steps onto the field. With continued progress on the field and in the film room, Lucas appears to be on his way to a bright future in Blue and White.
#11 Brent Wilkerson | LB | Redshirt Freshman
Penn State's corps of tight ends will be one of the team's strong spots on the depth chart in 2013. Among a talented cast of players who will play a big role at the two tight end spots will be redshirt freshman Brent Wilkerson. The Marbury, Md., native is an athletic player with the skill set to challenge both linebackers and defensive backs while running pass patterns. Wilkerson is eager to learn and improve every time he practices, and he has made superb progress in his first spring in the tight end rotation.
#22 Akeel Lynch | RB | Redshirt Freshman
Like the tight end position, Penn State will enter 2013 with a deep pool of talented running backs. Joining key returnees Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton will be redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch. Lynch brings a blend of quickness and power to the running back stable. The Toronto native has exhibited breakaway speed and powerful downhill running at times during spring practice. Lynch played a big role on the Dirty Show Squad in 2012, but he is ready to step into the rotation to provide the Penn State offense with three weapons in the running back stable.
#99 Austin Johnson | DT | Redshirt Freshman
With the graduation of First Team All-Big Ten defensive tackle Jordan Hill, redshirt freshman Austin Johnson will be among the cast of Nittany Lions filling the middle of the defensive line in 2013. A talented athlete with terrific size (6-4, 302), Johnson has practiced at a high level this spring. A native of Galloway, N.J., Johnson moves well on his feet for a player his size. With continued progress during the summer, Johnson will likely have a chance to make a big impact along the defensive line in fall.