A year ago, it was pretty much a given that Nick Scott was going to be one of Penn State’s two starting safeties in Week 1. The other spot was to be settled in a competition between Garrett Taylor and Lamont Wade.
Taylor wound up beating out Wade and ultimately became one of the Nittany Lions’ most consistent defensive players during the 2018 season.
Now heading into 2019, Taylor is almost certainly going to be one of Penn State’s starting safeties, while Wade is once again fighting for a starting spot. This time, he’s battling junior Jaquan Brisker, a JUCO transfer from Lackawanna Community College.
“It’s been fierce,” safeties coach Tim Banks said of the competition between Brisker and Wade. “They understand that every rep is super valuable.”
Wade is a former five-star recruit out of Western Pennsylvania and he’s been a often-talked about player since he stepped on campus. Now heading into his junior season and seemingly finding a permanent home at safety after bouncing around, Wade is in a good place, according to Banks.
“Lamont’s having a good camp,” Banks said Wednesday. “I feel like he’s really picked up where he left off in the spring.”
But Brisker is putting pressure on Wade during training camp and neither player has the edge as of now.
“Brisker certainly brings a high degree of talent and length and speed,” defensive coordinator Brent Pry said earlier this month. “He's got some corner qualities that tackles like a safety. Being an older guy and playing at Lackawanna and evaluating him as a junior college player gives us a little better idea of what we're getting than a guy straight out of high school.”
Added Banks: “Anytime you come in and your fresh to the program, there’s always a transition. But he’s been really good the last couple practices. He’s really trending in the right direction. He’s not afraid of contact. We’re super excited that he’s here.”
If it is Brisker who gets the start, he’ll have plenty of experience to lean on in the form of Taylor.