Clairton product Lamont Wade on starting track for Penn State
Lamont Wade declared for the transfer portal in mid-January, cleaned out his locker and then changed his mind two weeks later. So far, returning seems like it was a good idea for the former Clairton safety.
The Penn State junior appears to have the edge at safety, maybe the most competitive position battle in camp. He’s trying to win the job over junior college transfer Jaquan Brisker and redshirt sophomore Jonathan Sutherland, and he’s getting a lot of reps with Garrett Taylor and the first team through fall camp’s first five practices.
“Lamont Wade is doing a great job,” cornerbacks coach Terry Smith said after practice Wednesday night. “Right now, he’s a very vocal leader. He’s getting our guys lined up, getting them in the right position, and he had a heck of an interception the other day at practice.
“And that first unit right now, they’re jelling really, really well. So they look good, and we just continue to work. We got a lot of time before the first game to decide what the true lineup will be.”
Wade’s early lead isn’t a huge surprise. The cornerback, who switched to safety before last spring, has had about 18 months to get acclimated to the position. Brisker, the nation’s top-ranked junior-college safety, has been on campus for a little more than two months.
According to Smith, the safeties are pretty similar. The biggest difference is size: Wade is 5-foot-9 and 199 pounds, whereas Brisker, who gained 15 pounds since May, stands at 6-1 and 210 pounds.
“Brisker is bigger, but Lamont has experience with the system. He knows the system better,” Smith added. “They’re both fast guys — they both run 4.4 — they’re both physical, they both can cover. So other than what they look like, they’re very similar-type players. So they’re battling it out, and I can see both of them playing a lot of football for us.”
Strength coach Dwight Galt previously called Brisker a “stud ” for how quickly he has developed physically since arriving on campus. And coach James Franklin said he’s been impressed by the newcomer.
“He’s long, he’s rangy, he’s athletic. He’s a details guy that I’ve been really impressed (with),” Franklin said. “You guys have heard us talk about championship habits. I see him doing little things probably earlier than I would anticipate. Little things — the ball’s on the ground, he’s scooping and scoring, and he’s got positive energy with his teammates.
“I’ve been impressed with him. I really have.”