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MMQB: Who Will Lead Penn State in Sacks in 2017?

Who gets to the quarterback the most among Penn State’s young and talented front seven?

NCAA Football: Iowa at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Getting to the quarterback is something Penn State has excelled at for some time, and that shouldn’t change one bit in 2017. Despite losing both starting defensive ends, the Nittany Lions will offer a front seven filled with speedy players who should spend plenty of time in the backfield throughout the season. But who will ultimately lead the team in sacks when the 2017 season is in the books?

The projected starters at defensive end are a great place to start. Both Torrence Brown and Shareef Miller are extremely athletic and have the ability to be disruptive playmakers off the edge. Both have shown flashes of great potential, and Miller especially showed promise as a redshirt freshman last season. Similar to Anthony Zettel’s freshman season in 2012, Miller made his presence known whenever he was on the field in limited snaps. As a full-time starter, he could quickly develop into one of the Big Ten’s best pass rushers.

Redshirt freshman Shane Simmons has yet to play his first game for the Nittany Lions, but the five star prospect could be extremely productive off the bat. Fellow redshirt freshman Shaka Toney also received praise throughout the spring for his lightening-fast first step, and should receive plenty of opportunities as part of the regular rotation.

Penn State also has at least a couple defensive tackles to consider- both Kevin Givens and Curtis Cothran have the quickness to bring the inside heat. Givens especially showed his ability to make plays in the backfield as a redshirt freshman, and has reportedly improved and gave the offensive line fits throughout spring camp. Cothran returned from a four game suspension to start 2016 and gradually improved throughout the season, and should be in for a very big 2017 as the presumptive starter next to senior Parker Cothren.

How about an outside linebacker? Considering the speed at the position, it’s certainly a possibility. Koa Farmer became a weapon on passing downs in 2016, and is expected to now become a full-time starter after proving himself during the spring. Cam Brown and Manny Bowen both have impressive speed, and could very well get plenty of opportunities to chase down the quarterback in 2017.

So what say you, BSD reader? Who is your pick to lead the Nittany Lions in sacks this season?