When James Franklin landed Lamont Wade as part of Penn State's 2017 recruiting class there were some very high expectations for the defensive back. Wade's first two seasons with the Nittany Lions haven't gone exactly as planned, but he finds himself presented with a big opportunity to step up in 2019.
Wade was the crown jewel in James Franklin's third full recruiting class. He was a four-star recruit according to 247Sports and was ranked as the No. 5 cornerback and the No. 43 prospect overall. He had many of the top schools in the nation interested in him, but he ultimately decided to stay in Pennsylvania and join the Nittany Lions.
Having too much talent to waste, Wade was given the green light as a true freshman. He appeared in 12 games on both defense and special teams and finished with 31 total tackles. Those numbers earned him an honorable mention distinction to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team by BTN.com.
Before the start of last season, Wade was moved from his natural position of cornerback to safety. The transition wasn't exactly a smooth one, as he finished with just 17 total tackles, with a good chunk of those coming on special teams.
It appeared that Wade may not ever live up to the hype at Penn State, as he decided to put his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal in January. Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, he changed his mind soon after and returned to the team.
With two years of experience behind him, as well as a full season to learn a new position, things are looking up for Wade for 2019. We currently have him projected as a starting safety, opposite of Garrett Taylor. Even if he does end up getting beaten out by Jonathan Sutherland or Jaquon Brisker, he'll still be one of the first options off the bench.
Either way, the playing time and the opportunity is right in front of Wade this season.
For tips on how to continue the transition to safety, Wade needs to only look at the guy next to him. Taylor came to Penn State as a corner but made a smooth transition to safety after his redshirt freshman season. The steps forward he made in his second year at the position were noticeable and Taylor could prove to be a big help for Wade.
There's no doubt that Wade has the talent to be a top defensive back at the collegiate level. Will 2019 be the year that he lives up to the hype?