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NCAA Football: Penn State Blue-White Game Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Early Impact Keaton Ellis may be a true freshman behind several talented upperclassmen, but he’s ready to challenge for playing time in his first season out of high school. His coaches and teammates had plenty to say about the State College Area High School standout...Rasheed Walker is also ready to pounce on an opportunity to play as a (redshirt) freshman, and has benefited from facing off against one of the nation’s top defensive linemen in practice every day. While we’re talking about looming position battles, L247 does its best to prognosticate the week one depth chart for the Nittany Lions.

From Great to Elite Penn State’s defense was supposed to take a step back in 2018, but Brent Pry wouldn’t allow it. Instead, the defense continued to grow and became a dominant force in the second half of the season. With much talent and experience returning, what are reasonable expectations for the defense in 2019?

Sweet Sixteen Penn State comes in at #16 in Sports Illustrated’s latest preseason poll. The Buckeyes are the top-ranked Big Ten squad at #6. They also point out that Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley are no longer on the team, in case you missed that.

Ready to Shaka the World Yetur Gross-Matos is a legit All-American and Bednarik Award contender. Jayson Oweh has freakish athletic ability that has fans itching to see him hit the field. But don’t sleep on Shaka Toney. The junior defensive end who had four sacks and two forced fumble in just the fourth quarter against Indiana is poised to make the most of his opportunity to play a larger role with the defense this season.

New Beginnings Former Penn State receiver Irvin Charles has found a new landing spot at Indiana University Pennsylvania. While his Penn State career didn’t work out the way many expected, Charles will always be known for creating the spark that eventually led to a Big Ten Championship:

Go get ‘em, Irvin.

Mark Those Calendars Outside of the novelty of having football back on the tube, the first few weeks are always defined by a handful of outstanding non-conference games that may already serve as playoff elimination games. Of the 12 best non-conference games of 2019, only one comes after Sept. 21. For those keeping track, BYU-Tennessee and Ohio State-Cincinnati are now viewed as more important match-ups than Penn State-Pitt.