For the second year in a row, Penn State loses a multi-year starter* at safety. Jordan Lucas, like Adrian Amos before him, switched from corner to safety for the 2015 season in order to address the needs of the team. Also like Amos, Lucas was one of the few true freshmen who saw the field immediately. He appeared in all 12 games his freshman season Lucas and became a steady starter from there on out. Prior to missing his first game against San Diego State last year, Lucas had appeared in 40 consecutive games. In 2015, he started nine games at safety, but had to miss the San Diego State game with an injury, and ultimately ended his season after the Northwestern game on November 11. Lucas was one of the better players our secondary has seen in recent memory. He wasn't too flashy, but he was consistent and made his presence felt when he was on the field either directly or indirectly. The loss of Lucas last season opened up an opportunity for other teammates to get playing time, with the biggest benefactors being in contention for a starting spot this season. The unit also gets a new coach in Tim Banks, formerly Illinois' defensive coordinator.
One of the safety spots is already filled by Marcus Allen, who had a successful freshman season when he took over for the injured Ryan Keiser. Allen has 19 starts under his belt and has played in 25 games. While many view Allen's season last year as disappointing, especially when compared to his freshman season, he was still an All-Big Ten honorable mention player. He had 81 tackles, 5 for loss, forced two fumbles and recovered one. Allen is poised to build on last year's performance and become one of the leaders of the defense.
The other spot will be a competition between several guys. Troy Apke saw plenty of time last season after Lucas went down. Apke has played in 19 games in the past two seasons, and played in all 13 last year. Troy is one of the fastest guys on the team, with a recorded 4.41 40-yard dash time. Malik Golden is the other player who spent a lot of time in the secondary last year. He's played in 33 games to date.
Koa Farmer has made contributions to the secondary, but find himself playing at Safety kind of by default. He has the speed and strength to do well (he's right behind Apke with a 4.43 40), but needs to show he can perform in the position.
Guys like Ayron Monroe, Jarvis Miller, and John Petrishen could contribute this season as well. All three redshirted last season and could contend for a starting spot.
The safety position stands to benefit from plenty of talent and experience this season, and it could surprise as one of the better units on the team. With Marcus Allen poised to pick up right where Jordan Lucas left off, and the possibility of Apke anchoring the other spot, there will be plenty of speed to go around. That's cause for celebration: