Penn State football found several key additions on the transfer portal last season, while also making significant pick-ups in its freshman class.
Arnold Ebiketie was one of the best players on the team after coming over from Temple, while Derrick Tangelo and Eric Wilson both started after joining Duke and Harvard, respectively.
This offseason, the Nittany Lions have added a few more portal targets, as well as some highly rated freshmen who could make an impact early in their careers.
Here’s a look at Penn State’s scholarship slate with just over three months to go before the team’s season opener against Purdue.
Note: New forwarding destinations are in parentheses.
Back : Sean Clifford, Christian Veilleux
Additions: Drew Allar, Beau Pribula
Faded away: Ta’Quan Roberson (UConn)
Quick Notes: There’s not a whole lot of gaming experience beyond Clifford, but he’s got a lot going for him. The redshirted senior enters his fourth year as a starter before one of the other three quarterbacks — all of whom are freshmen for eligibility — are set to take over in 2023. Otherwise earlier.
TO COME BACK
Back : Keyvone Lee, Devyn Ford, Caziah Holmes
Additions: Nicholas Singleton, Kaytron Allen
Faded away: Noah Cain (LSU)
Quick Notes: Cain was widely regarded as the team’s best full-back heading into the 2021 season, but his departure is unlikely to do much damage in the room. Singleton might steal the show here as one of the best freshmen in the country. Lee should start with the doors, but the freshman could quickly nibble away at his workload.
Back : Parker Washington, KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Jaden Dottin, Malick Meiga, Liam Clifford, Harrison Wallace III
Additions: Mitchell Tinsley, Kaden Saunders, Omari Evans, Anthony Ivey, Tyler Johnson
Faded away: Jahan Dotson, Cam Sullivan-Brown, Daniel George (Akron), Norval Black
Quick Notes: There is no greater loss on the list than Dotson. He is one of the most prolific receivers in Penn State history and replacing him will have to be a team effort. There’s a good crop of talent here that could make an impact, but Tinsley stands out. He provides the size and physique that the team lacked in this position last year. His addition should be significant for Penn State’s offense.
Back : Theo Johnson, Tyler Warren, Brenton Strange, Khalil Dinkins
Additions: jerry cross
Faded away: Nothing
Quick Notes: There was no more underutilized position on the roster last season than this. The four returning players are very talented, led by Johnson – who has a chance to be the best tight end in the country with his size and athleticism. Cross isn’t likely to commit early, but should be a major threat as a receiving option down the road. For now, Johnson, Warren, and Strange will lead the way and should see an increased role this season.
Back : Caedan Wallace, Olu Fashanu, Juice Scruggs, Sal Wormley, Jimmy Christ, Ibrahim Traoré, Landon Tengwall, Nick Dawkins, Bryce Effner, Golden Israel-Achumba
Additions: JB Nelson, Hunter Nourzad, Drew Shelton, Vega Ioane, Maleek McNeil
Faded away: Rasheed Walker, Eric Wilson, Anthony Whigan (Akron), Des Holmes (Arizona State), Mike Miranda
Quick Notes: Walker is the most notable start, but there may not be much of a drop to his left tackle spot. Fashanu has quickly established himself as the favorite to start and has a chance to be the Nittany Lions’ best offensive lineman this season. Nourzad and Wormley could have a similar impact inside after the former was transferred from Cornell and the latter missed 2021 through injury.
Back : Adisa Isaac, Nick Tarburton, Davon Townley Jr., Zuriah Fisher, Amin Vanover, Rodney McGraw, Smith Vilbert
Additions: Demeioun Robinson, Dani Dennis-Sutton, Ken Talley
Faded away: Arnold Ebiketie, Jesse Luketa
Quick Notes: The team’s top passing thrower left with Ebiketie heading to the NFL and the Nittany Lions did well to replace some of the 9.5 sacks he had last season. Robinson is young and talented with the advantage of being a top player for Penn State, while Dennis-Sutton has as much potential as any player in the program. Combine their arrivals with the return of Isaac, who tore his Achilles tendon and missed the 2021 season, and Penn State should be even better defensively this season.
Back : PJ Mustipher, Hakeem Beamon, Jordan van den Berg, Fatorma Mulbah, Dvon Ellies, Coziah Izzard
Additions: Zane Durant, Kaleb Artis
Faded away: Derrick Tangelo, Joseph Appiah Darkwa (Temple), Cole Brevard (Purdue), Fred Hansard, Enée Hawkins
Quick Notes: Someone will have to step in to replace Tangelo as a starter, but Mustipher’s injury last season gave the likes of Ellies and Izzard a chance to show they’re more than capable of absorbing those clichés. Beamon didn’t play last season for an undisclosed reason and his return will improve the team’s inside passing rush, as will the emergence Durant – one of the team’s most notable players during the spring training.
Back : Curtis Jacobs, Jonathan Sutherland, Kobe King, Jamari Buddin, Tyler Elsdon, Charlie Katshir
Additions: Keon Wylie, Abdul Carter
Faded away: Brandon Smith, Ellis Brooks
Quick Notes: Penn State has a lot of questions to answer at linebacker with the departure of two starters. Sutherland leaving safety should help, but he’ll have to start right away and that’s not ideal. Elsdon and King competed for the starting center linebacker position in the spring and that competition is expected to expand to include Carter this fall. This is where the Nittany Lions could most use a transfer addition on the roster.
Back : Joey Porter Jr., Kalen King, Johnny Dixon, Jeffrey Davis Jr., Daequan Hardy, Marquis Wilson
Additions: Cam Miller
Faded away: Tariq Castro Champs
Quick Notes: Castro-Fields and his years of experience are gone, but there’s plenty of talent on the roster to replace him. Porter Jr. and King are the team’s top two outside corners and should make an impact this season – the former already drawing first-round buzz ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft. Hardy is as consistent as they come in the slot and should be the starter again this season.
Back : Ji’Ayir Brown, Keaton Ellis, Jaylen Reed, Zakee Wheatley
Additions: Mehki Flowers, Cristian Driver, Tyrece Mills, KJ Winston
Faded away: Jaquan Brisker, Enzo Jennings, Tyler Rudolph (UMass)
Quick Notes: One of the nation’s top safety duos was broken with Brisker’s departure, but Brown returns as one of the nation’s best players in the role. The real question comes next to it where many players competed to win Brisker’s former job. Wheatley stood out in the spring after leaving the corner and has the size and strength to be effective on the run, while using his covering ability from his time as a corner to play at a high level against the pass.
Back : LS Chris Stoll, K Jake Pinegar, K Sander Sahaydak
Additions: P Alex Bacchetta
Faded away: K/P Jordan Stout
Quick Notes: Stout was a jack-of-all-trades last season and will be hard to replace. Sahaydak and Bacchetta have the most talent and could be considered favorites to replace him at kicker and kicker respectively.