Gone are both of Penn State’s starters at defensive end from 2016. Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan will both be fighting to earn roster spots in the fall with the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants, respectively. Each had respectable seasons, finishing with six sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss for Schwan, with Sickels contributing 12.5
Their departure, however, means that the door has opened for an emerging group of defensive ends to step in and potentially become the next great defensive lineman for the Nittany Lions. Torrence Brown, Shane Simmons and Shaka Toney will be among the group looking to making a name for themselves beginning in September, but one seems to stand out above the rest- redshirt sophomore Shareef Miller.
Miller gained valuable experience early, as a regular part of Penn State’s deep defensive line rotation. He often appeared in the second unit opposite of Brown. Miller did well, considering his amount of time on the field, by contributing two sacks, 5.5 TFLs and 22 tackles on the season. While his numbers may not be eye-popping, his impact was undeniable. Miller regularly caused problems for opposing linemen, often getting into the backfield and harassing the quarterback into a bad play, or containing a ballcarrier to make him change course for a much shorter gain.
it’s quite obvious that Miller has the burst of speed and instincts necessary to become a playmaker at defensive end. He also has a massive amount of potential as he enters just his second year of eligibility in 2017. Miller had a busy offseason in the weight room, and is currently listed at 6-5, 255 lbs. Defensive line coach Sean Spencer has quickly proven he knows how to develop players, and Miller should continue to grow under his guidance. He very well could put it all together this fall, with double digit sacks and All-Big Ten honors as a legitimate possibility.