Penn State football: ‘With that catch, Chisena, you’re on scholarship’

Donnie Collins / The Times-Tribune (TNS)
Penn State running back Noah Cain is swarmed by a pack of defenders, including Yetur Gross-Matos, Jan Johnson and Micah Parsons, during the Blue-White spring scrimmage on Saturday, April 13, 2019, in University Park, Pa. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/TNS)

STATE COLLEGE – Dan Chisena couldn’t have known he’d become the star of Saturday’s Blue-White Game.

Even if everyone around him seemed to know he would be.

On the last play of the third quarter at sunsplashed Beaver Stadium, the 6-foot-2 senior receiver broke open up the right sideline, hauled in a perfectly lofted throw from quarterback Will Levis and sprinted into the end zone for a 59-yard score.

It helped the Blue team separate from the White on the way to a 24-7 victory in the annual spring scrimmage. But as he celebrated with his teammates in the end zone, the booming voice over the public address system made it even more special moment for Chisena.

“With that catch, Chisena, you’re on scholarship,” microphone-wielding head coach James Franklin bellowed.

Teammates fled the sideline and swarmed Chisena, who became the third walk-on player to be awarded a full scholarship this offseason, joining fellow receiver Isaac Lutz and lineman Hunter Kelly.

Chisena came to Penn State as a preferred walk-on and spent summer camp and the fall with the Nittany Lions football team. But shortly after that, he joined the track team and earned a partial scholarship, which prevented him from staying on the football team as a walk-on. Seemed like a good career choice. At Downingtown East High School, Chisena won PIAA Class 3A championships in the 100, 200 and 400-meter relay, and Franklin said he ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash during his track days.

More:Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens sets out to 'prove my durability' during senior year

More:Sean Clifford, 'most competitive guy on this team,' excited about looming PSU QB battle

But last summer, he couldn’t fight football’s lure any longer. Chisena asked Franklin if he could give football another shot, giving up a partial scholarship that covered 70 percent of his college costs.

“All my best friends are on the track team. My roommates are on the track team,” he said. “But I just wanted to give football another shot.”

Chisena wound up catching two passes for 79 yards, and Franklin said he will give Penn State an intriguing prospect on offense this fall.

“We really liked Dan on the front end. We recruited Dan … really pretty hard. Then, the track team stole him from us, positively I guess,” Franklin said. “He’s 6-foot-2,

210 pounds and one of the fastest guys on our team. He’s a guy we always had bright hopes for.”

Nick’s time: One of the biggest honors of Blue-White weekend for the Nittany Lions was reserved for a walk-on running back from Lake-Lehman.

Junior Nick Eury was one of three winners of the Frank Patrick Total Commitment Award, given annually to players who have gone above and beyond in their dedication to Penn State football.

Punter Blake Gillikin and offensive tackle Will Fries shared the award with Eury.

Other award winners include Yetur Gross-Matos, who claimed the Jim O’Hora Award, named after the Dunmore native and former Penn State assistant and given to the most improved player on defense in camp. Center Michal Menet won the Red Worrell Award for most-improved offensive player, and Jonathan Sutherland earned the Coaches Special Teams award.

Pledge drive: Several dozen recruits made unofficial visits this weekend to Happy Valley, but two announced they’ll be making it home.

Guard R.J. Adams and defensive tackle Cole Brevard verbally committed to Franklin’s 2020 recruiting class. The 6-foot-3, 314-pound Adams is a three-star recruit out of Woodbridge, Virginia, according to At 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, Brevard is a four-star recruit out of Carmel, Indiana.

Uni watch: Penn State announced during the game that it will wear alternate, throwback-style uniforms when they host Purdue on Oct. 5.

The uniforms will have blue stripes on the side of the white pants and numbers on the side of the helmets, along with some other subtle changes.

Penn State first wore alternate unis against Illinois during the 2017 season.

Nittany notes: In the break between the first and second quarters, Penn State fans gave a standing ovation to former Nittany Lions linebacker Matt Millen, who worked as part of the announce team broadcasting the game for the Big Ten Network. The Blue-White Game was Millen’s first public appearance since undergoing heart transplant surgery on Christmas Eve, and his first broadcast since taking a leave of absence for health reasons after calling the Purdue-Nebraska game for BTN on Sept. 29. He plans to return to the booth full time for the 2019 season. … Amanda Sauer-Cook, who became the first woman to work on an FBS officiating crew in 2017, worked as the center judge for the Big Ten crew working the Blue-White Game. … Senior quarterback Tommy Stevens didn’t play Saturday, but he suited up and went through warm-ups. He said he plans to be 100 percent health-wise and ready to compete for the starting quarterback job in camp come August.