From 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the Lasch Building, Penn State wide receiver Juwan Johnson had some fun. When he wasn’t pulling for his teammates, the redshirt junior chatted with quarterback Trace McSorley and danced alongside DeAndre Thompkins between sets.
Johnson had reason to be happy. With 30 sessions down and only two to go, he was one of the Nittany Lions’ top winter workout performers.
Penn State strength and conditioning coach Dwight Galt named Johnson and four other Nittany Lions when asked who fit in his yearly top tier.
Who else made the list? And what did Galt say about each player? Find out below:
Juwan Johnson, wide receiver
DaeSean Hamilton — who’s set to showcase his skills at this weekend’s NFL Combine — was lauded year after year for his work ethic and the example he set in Penn State’s wide receivers room.
Well, in Galt’s eyes, “DaeSean Hamilton kind of left his legacy with Juwan Johnson.”
“He is a trained killer,” Galt added. “He’s done a great job, and he’s one of our top, top guys.”
It should come as no surprise that Johnson is embracing more responsibility. The New Jersey native was Penn State’s second-leading receiver in 2017 with 701 yards on 54 catches.
With Hamilton, Saquon Barkley and Mike Gesicki gone, Johnson should be McSorley’s No. 1 option in 2018.
Lamont Wade, safety
Wade — potentially one of Penn State’s starting safeties next season — has added to the fine work he put in as an early enrollee.
The Clairton native, who has put on six pounds of muscle since arriving in Happy Valley, “did a nice job” in 2017’s winter workouts and has “done a great job” this go-round.
“He’s like a piranha in a small pool right now,” Galt said. “He’s really been phenomenal.”
On Wednesday, Wade — who appeared in 12 games last year, making 31 tackles — looked like a guy ready to take on a bigger role.
Will Fries, offensive tackle
Fries impressed at last year’s winter workout media availability — and Galt said it’s been more of the same in recent weeks.
The strength coach said Fries “did a really good job” along Penn State’s offensive line in 2017, racking up nine starts in 12 appearances as a redshirt freshman.
Fries’ future continues to look bright.
Danny Dalton, tight end
Penn State needs a replacement for Gesicki, and Dalton could be an option.
“Danny Dalton has been phenomenal,” Galt said of the redshirt sophomore. “He works hard at everything he does.”
A former Massachusetts product, Dalton was highly regarded when he came to Happy Valley. The four-star prospect had 49 catches, 702 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior at Marshfield High School.
But he has yet to play for the Nittany Lions. Dalton redshirted in 2016 and didn’t see any game action a year ago.
He will be in competition with Jonathan Holland, Nick Bowers and freshmen Zack Kuntz and Pat Freiermuth for Gesicki’s open job.
John Petrishen, safety
This final pick by Galt is a name not heard in quite some time.
Like Dalton, Petrishen has yet to play a down for the Nittany Lions. A former first-team all-state prospect out of Central Catholic in Pittsburgh, the redshirt junior has been “dinged his entire career.”
But Galt believes Petrishen “has really paid his dues.”
“He’s had a number of different situations,” the coach added, “but this winter he’s been healthy and he’s really been doing a great job.”
When spring practice opens on March 19, Petrishen will compete for two starting safety jobs with Wade, Nick Scott, Ayron Monroe, Garrett Taylor and freshmen Jonathan Sutherland and Isaiah Humphries.