Penn State ended its final full-go practice before Saturday's Blue-White Game with swagger. And plenty of it.
Running a two-minute drill, Nittany Lions cornerback Jabari Butler picked off quarterback Michael Shuster, weaved through offensive linemen and took it to the house. Butler wasn't finished, tossing the ball in the air upon reaching the end zone as teammates jumped around him in unison.
Five days removed from witnessing a "sloppy" and "unacceptable" practice, James Franklin preached discipline following Monday's session. But his players were loving the outward show of emotion.
"We got some swagger to us compared to years past," Penn State offensive tackle Ryan Bates said. "We have big personalities on the offense and defense."
Added cornerback Amani Oruwariye: "We need that swagger because it shows that we're confident in our work ethic and how we're playing."
That's a welcomed feeling as spring comes to a close.
The Nittany Lions all but finished off camp in solid standing. After the team's 13th practice of spring, Penn State still has two sessions left to go — a walk-through on Friday and the Blue-White Game the following day.
But the heavy lifting is in the rear-view mirror, and Saturday's celebration looms.
"The spring game is an opportunity to go out and make some plays, build on some things we did in spring ball, gain some confidence, and have some fun," Franklin said, "and put closure to the end of spring practice."
Here are more observations from the portion of Monday's practice open to the media:
- When asked about the mysterious middle linebacker spot, Franklin couldn't provide any clarity; there are too many moving parts at the moment with evaluation left to accomplish. But interestingly, Cam Brown worked at 'Mike,' flanked by Micah Parsons at 'Will' and a combination of Koa Farmer and Jarvis Miller at 'Sam.' Brown's lanky 6-foot-5 frame doesn't fit the mold of a typical middle linebacker, but he has the athleticism to make a difference wherever he is on the defense.
- Oruwariye said Lamont Wade is looking more and more comfortable at safety — but the sophomore was seen at his old position. Wade took reps as the nickel corner during the Nittany Lions' first-team two-minute drill. Nickel is a natural position for Wade as he nails down the intricacies at safety.
- Defensive end Daniel Joseph got some run opposite Shareef Miller during the same two-minute situation. Defensive coordinator Brent Pry said he was optimistic about the redshirt sophomore and former four-star prospect. Joseph — who saw limited reps in 2017 — could push for legitimate playing time in a loaded group of pass rushers.
- In back-to-back weeks, Danny Dalton has been featured as Penn State's No. 1 tight end. As Nick Bowers stood on the sideline, Dalton — a redshirt sophomore who has never seen game action — was targeted on four out of seven McSorley throws in the two-minute drill. While Pat Freiermuth's fall arrival could make matters interesting, it appears Dalton has the inside track to replace Mike Gesicki.
- Penn State's first-team offensive line was the same it's been most of spring: Bates at left tackle, Steven Gonzalez at left guard, Connor McGovern manning the center spot, Michal Menet filling in at right guard and Chasz Wright holding down right tackle. Redshirt sophomore Will Fries, who started nine games in 2017, is currently the second-team left tackle.