Blue White Illustrated

September 2023

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 34 of 67

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 3 3 5 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M P enn State entered November 2022 on the heels of a brutal three-game stretch that included a loss to Ohio State in the final week of October. That sequence of games was particularly rough on the offensive line, which lost starters Landon Tengwall, Olumuyiwa Fashanu and Caedan Wallace to season-ending injuries during a three-week span. Fashanu, a sophomore, and Wallace, a redshirt junior, had manned the tackle positions, while Tengwall had been a mainstay at guard as a redshirt freshman. The loss of those three players put the of- fensive line in a precarious situation for the final four games of the season. Penn State balanced burning redshirts with playing journeymen as full-time starters. The personnel shortage also tested the room's depth, forcing head coach James Franklin and his offensive line coach, Phil Trautwein, to scramble in their efforts to assemble a two-deep throughout the week. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, the team had built up its depth prior to the 2022 season. A big part of that talent infusion was a group of six true freshman walk- ons. Late in the week leading up to Penn State's trip to Indiana, Trautwein pulled aside two of those first-year players — center Ian Harvie and tackle Jim Fitzger- ald — to give them a message: Be ready. Harvie, an in-state kid just months re- moved from his days at Spring-Ford High in Royersford, was the first to get the no- tification that he would be traveling that weekend. He had mostly worked with the practice squad, although he had received a few second-team reps due to the absence of backup center Nick Dawkins, who was out for the season. Fitzgerald, a Severna Park, Md., native, didn't get the official word until Thursday after the team's walk-through. His inclusion on the travel squad was so late that he didn't make the printed edition of the travel roster handed out to the media before the game. Fitzgerald immediately called his father, Dave, who had played college football at SPEED WALKING PSU's walk-on program has been a career accelerator for many players over the years SEAN FITZ | SEAN.FITZ@ON3.COM Offensive tackle Jim Fitzgerald, a three-year letter- man at Archbishop Spalding in Severn, Md., played in two games during his freshman season at Penn State and shared the scout team's offensive player of the year award with wide receiver Jan Mahlert. PHOTO BY RYAN SNYDER

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