The Transfer Portal officially opened yesterday for all FBS football players, and to say it was a busy day would be an understatement. As of 7:55 P.M. EST on Monday night, nearly 600 players entered the portal, according to Chris Hummer of 247Sports.
There were 406 FBS players in the transfer portal at midnight. There are now 1,001 FBS players in the portal, per a source.— Chris Hummer (@chris_hummer) December 6, 2022
That's 595 FBS transfers in one day!
For context, that's nearly 20% of the 3,000-plus transfers who entered all of last cycle. @247SportsPortal
It goes without saying, but that’s a lot of movement — and it’s just Day 1. Over the next days and even weeks, that number will increase greatly. So like it or not, the Transfer Portal has become a hugely important piece of the game. It’s imperative that programs are proactive with regards to portal; whether that’s keeping their own starters out of it or improving their team from it.
For Penn State, you hope for it to be more of the latter. Over the last couple years, James Franklin has become increasingly more friendly with the portal, landing players like Derrick Tangelo, Arnold Ebiketie, Johnny Dixon, Hunter Nourzad, Chop Robinson, and Mitchell Tinsley. All starters, all have played crucial roles during their season(s) with the Nittany Lions.
This year, expect for Penn State to continue to plug roster holes with the portal. The offers will provide clarity on where Franklin’s focus is, but when looking at the roster, there are a couple spots more barren than others.
- Wide receiver: If Parker Washington declares for the draft, the Nittany Lions would be losing their top two wideouts. I’d certainly expect two from the portal.
- Defensive tackle: Depth is solid here with Hakeem Beamon, Coziah Izzard, Dvon Ellies, Jordan van den Berg, and Zane Durant all slated to return. But with the loss of PJ Mustipher, some added size here would be nice.
- Cornerback: Kalen King and Johnny Dixon are locked in as your starters, but there is a lot of unproven players after that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given that cornerback is one of the easiest spots for young players to make an impact. But if the right fit is out there, some additional depth wouldn’t be a bad thing.
- Linebacker: This is largely if Curtis Jacobs doesn’t return, which seems up in the air right now.
- Running back: This too is largely dependent on a player on the current roster: Keyvone Lee. If he sticks around, Penn State is probably good here. If he decides to transfer, the Nittany Lions would certainly like another depth piece behind Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen.
- Offensive tackle: Every single program would love another proven right or left tackle.
- Quarterback: Like Clemson took Hunter Johnson last year, I could see a scenario where Penn State takes a veteran QB that is cool serving as a backup and basically being an additional G.A.
Obviously there are a lot of moving pieces here, but more than anything, Penn State is in the business of taking good players that fit the culture Franklin has built. I imagine it’s still up, but in one of the meeting rooms in the football offices, there was a sign that says: “We are not accumulating talent. We are building a team.” During the Transfer Portal Era, that will be important for all programs to remember.
That being said, let’s try to keep track of all of the craziness that is happening right now. For this article, let’s start with players that have confirmed Penn State offers. Later today, I’ll be posting a separate article that has players that could potentially make some sense for the Nittany Lions.
PENN STATE OFFERS
WR Dante Cephas, 6-foot-1, 186 pounds (Redshirt Junior — Kent State)
Stats: 48 receptions, 744 yards, 15.5 YPC, 3 TDs (9 games)
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Originally from Pittsburgh and having played at Penn Hills with current Penn State cornerback Daequan Hardy, Cephas has been dominant at Kent State. Over the last two seasons, the Pittsburgh native has totaled 130 catches for 1,984 yards and 12 touchdowns, showcasing the ability as a deep threat and at the line of scrimmage.
To put it simply, the kid can play so it should be no surprise that the likes of Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Colorado (where Kent State’s head coach Sean Lewis is taking over as offensive coordinator) have already joined Penn State in offering.
WR Jimmy Horn Jr., 5-foot-9, 174 pounds (Junior — USF)
Stats: 37 receptions, 551 yards, 14.9 YPC, 3 TDs
Hometown: Sanford, FL
One of the most explosive prospects in the portal, Horn Jr. has already narrowed down his list to a final four of Penn State, Texas A&M, Houston, and Colorado with a December 25 announcement scheduled. Although there is a lot of time left before his Christmas announcement, there is some belief that Coach Prime and Colorado could be the team to beat.
"I think Colorado is the team to beat here." Wide receiver Jimmy Horn is a hot commodity in the Transfer Portal. We take a look at his recruitment and where he might end up. @247SportsPortal— 247Sports (@247Sports) December 5, 2022
Tune into #PortalPalooza show as we give you the latest: https://t.co/EZWUj7FIHM pic.twitter.com/seAWCcxzov
Penn State will certainly work Horn Jr. over the next few weeks and for good reason: there might not be a faster player with the ball in his hands in the transfer portal. Should Parker Washington leave for the NFL, Horn Jr. would be quite the replacement in the slot.
WR Dorian Singer, 6-foot-1, 185 pounds (Junior — Arizona)
Stats: 66 receptions, 1,105 yards, 16.7 YPC, 6 TDs
Hometown: Saint Paul, MN
Penn State continues to focus on wide receiver in the portal, with Singer becoming the third public offer made to a wideout.
Singer doesn’t have elite speed, but he plays bigger than his 6-foot-1 frame and displays strong body control to make acrobatic catches down the field. Really, he’s not all that dissimilar to current Penn State wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley.
OT Ajani Cornelius, 6-foot-4, 320 pounds (Junior — Rhode Island)
Stats: 11 starts at right tackle
Hometown: Harlem, NY
A two-year starter at right tackle for FCS Rhode Island, Cornelius is surely going to parlay his success in the CAA (all-conference first team right tackle) to an FBS program given his already extensive offer sheet — Oregon, Florida, Illinois, and a host of others have thrown their hat in the ring. Good Penn State tie: current Nittany Lion offensive line GA Dwayne Scott is a fellow Archbiship Stepinac graduate who also played at Rhode Island before making the move to the FBS (Boston College for Scott).
DT Braden Fiske, 6-foot-3, 300 pounds (Senior — Western Michigan)
Stats: 59 tackles, 12 TFLs, 6 sacks
Hometown: Michigan City, IN
With the impending departure of PJ Mustipher, Penn State would like some more beef up front and Fiske certainly seems like an ideal candidate. Although he isn’t the run-stuffing 1-Tech of olden years, he’s strong and quick at the point of attack, and probably fits what Penn State is looking for scheme-wise.
Braden Fiske is probably my favorite portal entry that I've watched today.— Brendan Sonnone (@BSonnone) November 29, 2022
Big (6-5, 300) but moves remarkably well, plays with high energy, and very active with hands.
Has gotten better YoY. I think he'll be a guy who plays on Sundays. https://t.co/9IvEHMyYI4 pic.twitter.com/P2dUmNTfco
He’ll be a tough pull though; the Indiana native has already visited Notre Dame and left with an offer from the Fighting Irish.
DT Elijah Jeudy, 6-foot-3, 295 pounds (Redshirt Sophomore — Texas A&M)
Stats: 1 tackle
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Hello, old friend. Jeudy was a big-time defensive end target coming out of Philadelphia back in the 2021 recruiting class, but — like a lot of Philly prospects — was enamored with the SEC. Jeudy ended up at A&M with Elijah Robinson over Alabama and Georgia, but now hits the portal after seeing very limited time during his stay in College Station.
Jeudy has changed a bit since he was a high school prospect. He was just a 246-pound defensive end back then, but has since grown into a defensive tackle nearing 300 pounds. Penn State decided to offer Monday night so they must still like his potential, even if it’s at defensive tackle now.
CB Khyree Jackson, 6-foot-3, 198 pounds (Senior — Alabama)
Stats: 7 tackles, 1 TFL
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD
Jackson comes from an area that Penn State is very familiar with, having played at Wise H.S. in Upper Marlboro, MD — home to none other than Nittany Lion legend Marcus Allen. From there, Jackson played at two JUCOs before settling in at Alabama the past two seasons. He was mostly a depth cornerback for the Crimson Tide where he played a lot of special teams, but he did earn a start at cornerback against Texas earlier this season. Since entering the portal, he’s landed some really promising offers: USC, Oregon, Arkansas, and a few others.
It should be noted that Jackson was suspended by Nick Saban in late November, though no reason for the suspension has been given.