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Penn State Addresses Defensive Tackle and Linebacker Depth In 2018 Class

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The Nittanys Lions are receiving a big boost along the front seven, signing players like PJ Mustipher and Jesse Luketa.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State continues to wait out some heavy hitters at defensive end, but otherwise, the defensive side of the ball is all wrapped up. With a number of multi-year starters gone after 2017, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a couple of the names below take the field at Beaver Stadium in 2018.

Defensive End

The defensive end picture remains a little fuzzy as Penn State continues to work on Jayson Oweh and Tyreke Smith — who is trending back towards the Buckeyes — but it received a big boost earlier today when Micah Parsons pulled the trigger for the Nittany Lions. Obviously, Parsons could start out at linebacker, but in the long run, he’ll be a defensive end. I feel like enough has been said about Parsons over the last two years, but for good measure — there isn’t a better pure football player in the country than Micah Parsons. Be excited, Penn State fans.

Defensive Tackle

The Nittany Lions have had so-so luck with defensive tackle recruiting in the past, missing out on guys like Christian Wilkins, Karamo Dioubate, and Tim Settle. Fortunately for Penn State, that wasn’t the case this year, as it’s bringing in a strong trio of P.J. Mustipher, Aeneas Hawkins, and Judge Culpepper.

Mustipher has the size and talent to play from day one if needed, and should end up a multi-year starter at the 1-Tech. Meanwhile, Culpepper is an extremely intriguing player because he has the frame to play at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds.


After bringing in three linebackers last class, Penn State is bringing in another three-man group this year. Jesse Luketa has been the leader for the class since he committed in February, and very well could factor into playing time next season too.

Potentially joining him on the field next season is Nick Tarburton. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Tarburton may eventually outgrow linebacker, but at least for next season, has the size and instincts to play right away.

Last but certainly not least is Charlie Katshir. The PA native will definitely need a redshirt season to add size, but he’s the best athlete of the group, and might remind some fans of another Pennsylvania athlete that made the switch to linebacker at Penn State.


After losing Isheem Young earlier this month, Isaiah Humphries checks in as Penn State’s lone safety signee. Humprhies is already a well-rounded safety, and being that he’s enrolling early, could figure to see the field in 2018 if things fall the right way. The only thing he lacks — like Young — is great length, but he checks just about every other box.


The northeast and mid-atlantic were barren for cornerback prospects in 2018, so Penn State went national, signing Florida’s Jordan Miner and Texas’ Trent Gordon. Miner will remind folks of 2017 signee Tariq Castro-Fields — long, athletic, and instinctual. Gordon doesn’t have quite the size Miner does, but at 5-foot-11 with long arms, should flourish at cornerback. Both also offer the versatility to play safety, a trait that’s clearly coveted by James Franklin’s coaching staff.


Penn State signed a kicker named Jake Pinegar and reports tell me he will use his leg to kick the ball.