The spring, James Franklin said, is a time to figure out what he has on the roster, especially from the newly arrived freshmen.
“We need to find out who (offensive lineman Mike) Miranda is. We need to find out who (cornerback) Lamont Wade is,” the Penn State coach said after Wednesday’s practice in State College.
The process for Wade in particular has just sped up.
Junior cornerback John Reid has suffered a knee injury during spring practice, one that could put his 2017 season in jeopardy. Lions247 first reported the situation, which leaves the Nittany Lions without their top cover man for the foreseeable future.
The door hasn’t been closed fully on Reid for the fall just yet. Penn State typically acknowledges season-ending injuries but has remained quiet on Reid’s status.
One factor is that Reid still has a redshirt available. So if the injury turns out to be something he could return from late in the season, he and the coaches would have a decision to make about his future.
In the meantime, Penn State still has two seniors with extensive experience at the position in Grant Haley and Christian Campbell. They would be in line to take the bulk of the reps with junior Amani Oruwariye, redshirt freshman Zech McPhearson and Wade also competing for playing time.
Wade getting lots of attention: Wade has received plenty of attention already as the team’s top-rated recruit in the 2017 signing class, winning player of the year awards in Pennsylvania after leading Clairton High School to the PIAA Class A title game.
Helping matters is that he graduated high school early to enroll at Penn State in January. A week ago, Franklin said Wade had impressed during winter workouts and at the start of spring ball.
“He’s a different kid because he’s already physically developed,” Franklin said. “He’s about 190 (pounds). He’s got tremendous confidence, as we all saw in high school. Sometimes that goes away when in college. It hasn’t gone away for him. He seems to learn well. He’s made plays so far. Up to this point, it’s been pretty good.
“You never know if he’s going to hit the wall as installation builds up. But we haven’t seen that yet. I think he’ll put himself in place with a good foundation and go into the summer with confidence and have a chance to legitimately compete.”
A major loss: Regardless of who steps up, however, Reid is a major loss for the defense.
Though Haley teamed up with safety Marcus Allen two of the biggest plays of the Lions’ Big Ten championship season — one on special teams — it was Reid who was the team’s most consistent performer in the secondary.
Famous (or infamous) for his meticulous film study, Reid’s extensive video work paid off on the field with a team-high 10 passes defensed and nine break-ups.
Last fall, Penn State video coordinator Jevin Stone said Reid sent him more film requests than any NFL or college player he had worked with in 13 years. Stone, who previously was with the Indianapolis Colts, put Reid “in the same video viewing category as Peyton Manning.”
That preparation helped him play right away as a true freshman at Penn State, starting in his first college game when Haley was out with an injury.
“Growing up, I wanted to always be a great football player,” Reid said last season. “I thought that to achieve that, I’d watch other great players and see what they do. That’s the approach I try to take, no matter what I’m dealing with.”