Player Spotlight: Pat Freiermuth
This week’s player spotlight surrounds Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth. Starring as a main weapon in the Nittany Lion offense for the past two seasons, the NFL prospect heads into the 2020-2021 season with expectations to be quarterback Sean Clifford’s go-to guy.
Last season, Freiermuth was selected as a team captain, made 13 starts and caught 43 passes for 507 yards, which was good for second on the team behind wide reciever K.J. Hamler. The junior tight end is coming off his best season yet, receiving second team Big Ten honors and being named the team's Most Valuable Offensive Player at the team's awards banquet.
Freiermuth has had Big Ten experience going all the way back to his freshman season in Happy Valley. This year is unlike any of those prior seasons and the Nittany Lions are going to be tested right off the bat in a Big Ten matchup with an emerging Indiana team.
At the team’s weekly press conference on Tuesday, Freiermuth told reporters he has been impressed with what Indiana has shown on film and in recent matchups with Penn State. The Nittany Lions usually being the season versus less talented opponents, but that is not that case in 2020 and Freiermuth views this game as a challenge for his squad.
“We’re gonna have to come out ready to play Indiana. They are really fast on defense and from what the guys on defense have told me they are also very good on offense,” the junior said.
“We’re gonna have to go out and attack. We do not have the opportunity to see what they do first, we need to punch them in the mouth right off the bat.”
Penn State is going to be tested early and often in Bloomington on Saturday. James Franklin’s squad is now without arguably their two best players, running back Journey Brown and linebacker Micah Parsons, for the remainder of the season.
The Nittany Lions are going to need other playmakers to step up and produce in order for them to be in contention for the Big Ten East title. Freiermuth seemed to have confidence in what Penn State has on offense to make up for the loss of Brown.
Freiermuth showed confidence in his new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca on Tuesday, as he believes this offense still has the potential to be an effective group.
“You’ll see a lot of similarities from last year, but Coach Ciarrocca has concentrated in camp on putting us playmakers in space, Freiermuth said. “This year is more focused on getting the ball to players who make plays. Jahan (Dotson), Parker Washington and KeAndre (Lambert) have done some nice things in camp.”
Freiermuth remains the Nittany Lions’ top pass catching option. On the outside, Penn State will lean on veterans Dotson and Cam Sullivan-Brown to make big plays for Sean Clifford.
Ciarrocca’s offense will also have freshman Parker Washington man the slot, replacing Hamler who was Penn State’s number one option in big moments last season. Washington has been the emerging star in camp thus far, proving to have elite ball skills and great run after catch ability.
Penn State needs these wideouts to perform well in its offense in order to take eyes off of Freiermuth in the middle of the field.
Obviously, No. 87 is going to be the Nittany Lions’ top target throughout the season. But the team is going to need a number of other playmakers to step up in order to bring an element of unpredictability to an offense that is missing one of the best playmakers in the country in Brown.
Sam Kirk is a freshman at Penn State majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Sam Kirk is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He is a writer and podcaster for the CommRadio sports department. He is also featured weekly in the CommRadio news department on Thursday newcasts. Sam has written articles all across the board that deal with baseball, football and basketball. He is also working for a football media company called Inside the Hashes, writing articles, interviewing players and contributing to their YouTube channel.