Joey Porter Jr., Kalen King and Daequan Hardy
Redshirt junior Joey Porter Jr. is back for his third season as a starting cornerback for the Nittany Lions. Last season Porter Jr. forced fumble, had an interception, and 4 pass breakups. While he struggled some with penalties down the stretch last season, which is likely the reason he did not go pro, Porter Jr. should be one of the best cornerbacks in the Big Ten this fall.
Joining Porter Jr. as a starter on the outside will be true sophomore Kalen King. When King arrived in Happy Valley the coaching staff was very happy to have him and felt he might be the best cornerback they have signed. While he had some freshman moments, for the most part King played well as a true freshman last year recording 5 pass breakups. You could see flashes of why the staff is so high on King and he should take another step forward this season.
As for Daequan Hardy, he will be the team’s starting nickel for a second consecutive season. With the Nittany Lions expected to continue to run a lot of 4-2-5 schemes with new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, Hardy should be in line to be one of the team’s top/most important defenders this season. Few players on the entire roster improved more from 2020 to 2021 than Hardy. To go with excellent coverage in the slot he recorded a sack and a pair of interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown.
Gonna Play A Whole Lot
South Carolina transfer Johnny Dixon will likely serve as the primary backup to each of the three starters. Dixon has the toolset and ability to play field, boundary, and nickel corner, which makes him a huge asset to the Nittany Lions.
Dixon also has plenty of experience for a non-starter. He played in 12 games for the Nittany Lions last season, in 2020 he played in 10 games while making 8 starts for South Carolina. He also made 3 starts for the Gamecocks as a true freshman in 2019.
Marquis Wilson, Cam Miller
Marquis Wilson has had a really weird career at Penn State. As his true freshman season in 2019 progressed Wilson saw more and more playing time, recording a pair of interceptions, including one in the Cotton Bowl, and forcing two fumbles. Since then, his career has plateaued and he’s dabbled with playing some wide receiver as well.
Now entering his senior season Wilson seems to have more question marks around him than answers. That said, Penn State may be an injury or two away at cornerback from Wilson being forced to play a big role.
When the regular season arrives incoming freshman Cam Miller could be a name to watch as well. The Floridian will arrive on campus this summer and could crack the two deep at cornerback, but since he was not an early enrollee fans will not see him this spring.