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Penn State’s Top 10 for 2018: #8 Kevin Givens

We continue off our annual top ten preseason football players of 2018 list as voted on by the BSD staff. In creating this list, we considered players’ abilities, value to the team and past performance, among other factors. 

Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Let’s continue our countdown with Kevin Givens, Penn State’s freakishly athletic defensive tackle.

#9 QB Tommy Stevens (tie)

#9 DE Ryan Buchholz (tie)

How He Got Here

Kevin Givens made an immediate splash during his redshirt freshman season in 2016. After receiving plenty of buzz during the summer, Givens went out and lived up to the hype. Despite being a reserve player, he would go on to collect 15 tackles, 7 TFLs and five sacks- incredibly impressive numbers for a rotational defensive tackle. He also recovered two fumbles throughout the course of Penn State’s Big Ten championship season.

Givens proved difficult to block, even against some of the best offensive lineman in the Big Ten. The Altoona native has a lightning-quick first step for someone a little shy of 300 lbs., allowing him to create chaos in opposing backfields.

In 2017, Givens numbers dipped slightly while once again being a key reserve at defensive tackle. He also started at defensive end for the final four games of the regular season after Torrence Brown and Ryan Buchholz were both forced out with injuries. At 6-1, 281 lbs., Givens should be able to focus on his more natural position inside now that the defensive end position is well-stocked with talent and more experienced in 2018.

What to Expect in 2018

After garnering plenty of well-deserved attention as a key reserve, Givens now steps into the full-time starting role as a redshirt junior. Expectations are high, with some expecting Anthony Zettel-type production out of the defensive tackle.

With increased reps, he should easily have the most productive season of his career. Based on his performance per snap in the past, it’s not much a stretch to think that Givens will be an all-Big Ten contender.

While he is the obvious starter at the three-tech spot, defensive line coach Sean Spencer has noted that Givens has the ability to move throughout the defensive line. This will be something to watch for, as Givens could be moved around in different looks now that the defensive line should employ more depth thanks to some excellent recruiting in the trenches during the past few years.

Now entering his fourth year with the program, Givens will be looked upon for his leadership as Spencer will likely be using several players in their first year of eligibility to maintain his typical deep rotation. He’ll certainly be able to lead by example.