Nittany Lions have options on how they want to use Lamont Wade on defense

UNIVERSITY PARK — Lamont Wade gave the best possible answer when asked what position he prefers to play.

“Football,” he said. “I like to play football. That’s it.”

Wade came to Penn State as an elite cornerback recruit from Clairton, and he spent his true freshman season playing that position a year ago. But Wade is now a safety, or at least that’s where most expect him to play, although a final decision may not have been made yet.

The coaching staff moved Wade to safety in the spring, but defensive coordinator Brent Pry said after the Blue-White Game that there was still a question about his permanent home.

Pry gave a hint recently, though, that might have solved things.

“Lamont Wade is just a tough, explosive guy. The more reps he gets, the more he shows us at the safety position that it could be the right spot for him,” Pry said.

Wade said, “I love hitting guys,” so couple that with his explosiveness, and safety certainly sounds like a good fit.

“I have no idea,” Wade said of where he’ll ultimately end up. “But it doesn’t matter to me. I can play wherever they put me at.

“I’m getting comfortable at safety now,” the 5-foot-9, 195-pounder added. “I like being in the back, being able to roam, see the whole field, being vocal. I’m more of a vocal guy, so I like being in a spot where I can be vocal and make sure everybody’s on the same page. Having range, you’re covering, tackling, you’re doing everything that you need to do in football.”

The Nittany Lions are losing perhaps the best run-support safety in program history in Marcus Allen, along with Troy Apke, both of whom were NFL draft picks this year.

Wade picked up a lot from Allen last year, and ultimately could be a similar type of hard-hitting safety, albeit smaller in stature.

“Marcus was a run stuffer,” Wade said. “When I was in high school, I used to joke around with my team and was like, ‘I hope everybody’s ready to go out there and break their neck today.’

“That’s the mentality that Marcus had, and that’s the mentality we put in the safety room. Just coming down and hitting, not really thinking about your body, not worried about how you’re going to come up, just striking.”

Wade was such a prized recruit that many expected him to play immediately at PSU, and he did just that, appearing in 12 games as a true freshman.

“It definitely helped me out getting on that field getting my feet wet, whether it was on special teams or the star position or at corner,” he said. “Getting your feet wet and that experience just boosts you and your confidence a whole other level.”

For as good as everyone thought Wade was coming into college, he said he’s so much better after having gone through one season.

“I’m like 5, 10, 20 times better than I was last year,” Wade said. “In every single way. I’m faster, I’m stronger, I’m more explosive, I’m more flexible. That’s just from being in this program, everything I’ve been doing, all the work I’ve been putting in with my strength coaches and everything.”

Football players all say that college is so much different than high school because of the vastly increased talent level of everyone around them, and the only way to succeed is to work as hard as possible to learn lessons on and off the field.

Wade has been in college for a year and a half, and he’s spent that time absorbing everything he could.

“I’ve learned a lot of life lessons, a lot of football lessons,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about discipline, simple stuff like time management, and just having different perspectives.

“Overall, there’s just so much I’ve learned in college, and it’s just a benefit to making me a better man and better football player.”