On the day that kicks off the 100 days until Penn State Football countdown, Penn State fans have an additional reason to celebrate. Bleacher Report has named Penn State as the second-best defense in all of college football heading into the 2019 season.
The Nittany Lions finished only behind Alabama, who has plenty of talent in the pipeline as always and will now welcome 15 four or five-star recruits on the defensive side of the ball in 2019. Bleacher Report also listed Michigan (#4) and Ohio State (#9) in its top 10. Penn State was also one spot ahead of the defending national champions Clemson.
Iowa and Michigan State were among the teams “Destined for Negative Regression.” Considering how Penn State’s offense has sputtered against Michigan State the last two years, and will be playing Iowa in Kinnick Stadium (likely in prime time (insert spooky scream here)), take their inclusions with a grain of salt.
The two biggest reasons for high hopes surrounding Penn State’s defense are the returns of linebacker Micah Parsons and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos. Parsons led the team in tackles as a true freshman, despite not being a full-time starter. Gross-Matos joined a recent group of dominating Nittany Lion defensive linemen with his breakout performance in 2018, where he finished with eight sacks and 20 TFLs despite increased attention throughout the season. The defense will be much more experienced than 2018, when the unit easily surpassed expectations while breaking in so many new faces.
Defensive coordinator Brent Pry has more than proven himself since arriving in Happy Valley, always getting the most out of his players regardless of star ratings and experience level. There’s reason to buy into the hype heading into 2019 now that Pry has the most raw talent at his disposal during his time in State College.