Penn State football is the No. 1 topic in We are… Awake every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across Nittany Lions sports. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Penn State football, recruiting, basketball and more.
The path back
Former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington is a bit of an enigma.
His career as a Nittany Lions linebacker was a lightning rod of attention few before him commanded. His career after has been up and down. Fans all along have debated his greatness and Penn State legacy.
Now Arrington is trying to pave a new path, one that could ultimately lead back to the Penn State sideline someday.
The York Daily Record’s Frank Bodani writes that Arrington, now the football coach at Maranatha High in Southern California, could one day end up back at Penn State coaching.
He knows this is a career step, maybe one to get back to where his heart is at … Penn State. He would love to coach linebackers or even lead the defense there one day.
Arrington has struck up a friendship with current Penn State freshman Micah Parsons too. That and current Nittany Lions coach James Franklin had him as a guest at a signing day event in recent years have fueled speculation that Arrington, now 40, may someday desire to work with Franklin.
For now, first things first. Maranatha is coming off a 6-5 season, and lost two straight, including a 41-point loss to Aquinas in the playoffs. Arrington has his work cut out for him.
Maybe, maybe not
How important is the NFL combine to former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley? Most mock drafts already have Barkley among the top 5 picks. Some, like ESPN’s Mel Kiper, say he is the top overall prospect, but won’t go No. 1 based on need.
Others like WalterFootball.com still have Barkley as the No. 1 overall pick.
Get ready for another round of mock drafts and talking heads as the scouting combine begins this week in Indianapolis. Barkley will be on display, but as the Centre Daily Times’ Josh Moyer and John McGonigal debate, does Barkley really need a strong combine?
This isn’t a case of Ryan Leaf vs. Peyton Manning or Josh Rosen vs. Sam Darnold, where scouts are trying to unearth whether Barkley will boom or bust. He’s widely regarded as the safest skill-position player in the draft, and his freakish athleticism is already well-known.
Moyer also added that regardless of what Barkley runs in the 40-yard dash, or how many times he benches 225, he isn’t sliding out of the Top 10.
The NFL Combine is a make-or-break opportunity for a lot of fringe prospects (i.e. Penn State safety Troy Apke), and it can springboard athletic freaks into the first round. (Remember speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey?).
Neither say Barkley really has anything to lose, unless of course, he suffers an injury.
Former Penn State recruit Shaquon Anderson-Butts, a former Harrisburg (Pa.) High teammate of Parsons, has flipped his choice of school, again.
Anderson-Butts didn’t sign with Penn State earlier this month and announced he would head to Iowa Western Community College, but according to Pennlive.com’s Chris Hopkins, Anderson-Butts is now headed to Milford Prep in New York.
“I will be attending Milford academy for a post-graduate year where my recruitment will be open to any school and I’ll pick the school of my choice and enroll in January,” Anderson-Butts said in his tweet.
Hopkins added that Anderson-Butts is going to play defensive back. He was slated to play both wide receiver and defensive back at Iowa Western.
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Penn State’s nonconference schedule is always a topic of discussion. In recent weeks it was announced Virginia Tech and Nevada would be added and in-state rival Pittsburgh would not be on the schedule going forward.
For the 2018 season, Penn State hosts Appalachian State, travels to Pitt and hosts Kent State. In 2019 the Nittany Lions are slated to face Pitt the final time before that contract expires and they add Idaho and Buffalo.
As of now, for 2021 the Nittany Lions are scheduled to open with Wisconsin and then nonconference games against Ball State and Auburn are scheduled.
StateCollege.com’s Mike Poorman wonders if the nonconference schedule is good enough.
Is Penn State’s overall home slate attractive enough that the Beaver Stadium faithful’s faithfulness and their propensity to go #107k won’t be tested by a September line-up of Idaho spuds and western duds?
Coming soon to a stadium near you: Idaho, 19-41 over the past five years; San Jose State and Nevada, a combined 5-21 last season; and Kent State, with a grand total of 14 victories since 2013.
Same question, different year.
The Penn State men’s basketball team now most definitely has a difficult road to the NCAA Tournament.
After losing to Michigan at home last week, and losing big Mike Watkins in the loss, Penn State fell flat at Nebraska in a battle of bubble teams to close the regular season 76-64.
Land Of 10’s Eric Sorensen has a full recap and social media reaction to Nebraska’s win here. Land Of 10’s Kevin Cunningham looks at what the loss means for the Nittany Lions’ tournament chances.
The loss puts Penn State in the Thursday session of the Big Ten tournament this week as the No. 7 seed, meaning no double-bye, and means if the Nittany Lions win they would have to go through Ohio State for a third time this season.
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