Young Lions Earning Playing Time
USA Today Sports' Composite Team Football 2017 Recruiting Ranking placed Penn State in the top fifteen nationally among Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Three games into the season, it is clear that two members of the 2017 freshmen class have made enough of an impression on head coach James Franklin and his coaching staff to earn themselves playing time. Lamont Wade and Tariq Castro-Fields, both defensive backs and both true freshmen, have shown that they have what it takes to compete at the Division I level.
It is no shock that Lamont Wade of Clairton, Pennsylvania, who attended Clairton High School, is making an early name for himself at Penn State as an accomplished high school career shows why. Some of Wade’s prep school accomplishments include being named the keystones state's 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year, team captain in the 2017 Under Amour All-American game and all-state first team for three consecutive seasons. The 5-foot-9, 190 pound defensive back earned himself the number one cornerback ranking in the 2017 recruiting class and the number one prospect ranking in Pennsylvania by Rivals. In high school, Wade played running back and cornerback, finishing his career with 7,079 rushing yards, the third highest amount in his high school conference’s history. He also recorded a conference record 117 career touchdowns and 14 career interceptions. Wade chose Penn State over twenty other Division I colleges including Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan.
Wade had the opportunity to train with Penn State as an early recruit after signing in January. He made an immediate, positive impression on his coaches and teammates. After seeing Wade's winter workouts and spring ball performance, Coach Franklin spoke of Wade's physicality and confidence at the college level. Wade’s work ethic and skill have earned him early season playing time. Wade’s college debut was the Nittany Lions’ September 2 season opener against the Akron Zips, where Wade recorded his first career tackle playing special teams. Since then, Wade has continued to earn playing time and expectations are high in Happy Valley for this Pennsylvania freshman.
The 6-foot, 185 pound Tariq Castro-Fields is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, where he attended Riverdale Baptist High School. Like Wade, Castro-Fields had an impressive high school career. He was selected first-team USA Today All-State as a senior, was named to the Washington Post's 2016 All-Met first team and was selected to participate in Maryland's high school all-star game, the Crab Bowl. At Nike's prestigious "The Opening’s" regional football camp, he earned the title of top defensive back. Rivals ranked Castro-Fields the number 26 safety in the country and the number four player in Maryland. Wade had scholarship offers from 15 Division I colleges including Alabama, Maryland and Michigan State.
In summer practices with the Nittany Lions, Castro-Fields got the attention of the coaching staff with his eagerness, work ethic and questions on how to make himself a better player. PSU coaches say Castro-Fields has taken the extra steps to prepare to play, which secured him playing time against Akron, Pitt and Georgia State, where Castro-Fields had his first career interception about halfway through the third quarter. Not too bad for a freshman.
Both Lamont Wade and Tariq Castro-Fields have shown tremendous promise very early in their Nittany Lion careers. Fans should continue to keep an eye on these two defensive backs over the next few years.
Devon D’Andrea is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.