Arnold Ebiketie transferred from Temple to Penn State hoping to become an impact player at the Power Five level.
He will, if his debut with the Nittany Lions is any indication.
Ebiketie made seven solo tackles, including two stops for losses, and blocked a field goal in Penn State’s heart-stopping 16-10 win Saturday at Wisconsin in a season opener.
“I put a lot of work into my craft,” he said, “so I had no doubt in my mind I was going to come in and do what I was supposed to do because I’m confident I put the work in.”
The 6-3, 256-pound Ebiketie made his most important play in the final minute, pressuring quarterback Graham Mertz and forcing him into an illegal grounding penalty after the Badgers had driven to the Penn State 25.
“Yes, we expected it,” Lions coach James Franklin said. “There’s been a buzz about AK (Ebiketie) since he showed up on campus. He’s an explosive guy. He’s a productive guy.
“I think he’ll only get better from this, after going against one of the better offensive lines in college football.”
Ebiketie dropped running back Chez Mellusi for a 4-yard loss on his first play in a Penn State uniform. He blocked a 25-yard field goal early in the second quarter before leaving the game in the third quarter for a while with an unspecified leg injury.
“I love AK,” safety Jaquan Brisker said. “He got a TFL on the first play and I was like, ‘Welcome to Penn State.’ I love what he did. He played physical. The doubters said he couldn’t stop the run and he proved them wrong.”
He appeared unfazed playing in front of 76,832 fans, the largest crowd he’s seen.
“It was definitely exciting,” Ebiketie said. “I never felt anything like that. It felt good to be out here with these guys and playing in this environment.”
Brooks ejected >> Penn State middle linebacker Ellis Brooks had a marvelous game, making 11 tackles with one sack.
Brooks, however, was ejected in the fourth quarter after officials penalized him for targeting after a collision with Mertz, who was carrying the ball. According to NCAA rules, he must sit out the first half of next week’s home opener against Ball State.
Brooks didn’t launch himself and hit Mertz’s left shoulder before he made contact with his helmet.
“I don’t agree with the call,” Franklin told Steve Jones and Jack Ham on the Penn State postgame radio show. “You can’t target a ball-carrier unless you use the crown of your helmet. I didn’t think he did that.
“I understand the reason for the rule. They’re going to protect the player, but what else does a kid do there?”
Rough afternoon >> Jordan Stout might want to buy Jaquan Brisker and Ji’Ayir Brown a pizza sometime soon.
Brisker and Brown made interceptions inside the Penn State 10-yard line in the final minutes to enable the Lions to win after Stout missed a 23-yard field goal and a PAT.
Special teams coordinator Joe Lorig said last month that Stout would only be used on field goal tries beyond 40 yards, and that Jake Pinegar would be used on the rest and handle extra points.
Pinegar was in uniform Saturday, but Franklin didn’t explain why he didn’t kick.
“He was available,” Franklin said in response to a question about Pinegar.
Stout did average 53.9 yards on seven punts, including a 76-yarder, and sent all four of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. He was not made available for interviews.
Travel roster >> Former Wilson standout Kaleb Brown, a true freshman defensive back, made the Penn State travel roster for the first game of his career. That bodes well for the future of the preferred walk-on.
Notable Lions who did not make the trip included running back John Lovett, offensive lineman Sal Wormley, defensive tackle Hakeem Beamon and safety Keaton Ellis.
Source: Berkshire mont