Last season Theo Johnson appeared in all 13 games and started six of them. Now preparing for his junior season, Johnson will likely emerge as the starting tight end of the Nittany Lions.
Johnson hauled in 19 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown last season. An athletic freak, it would be nice to see Penn State incorporate Johnson into the passing game a bit more this season. Especially in the red zone where he can be an absolute matchup nightmare.
Tight end will be a competition to determine a starter. With Johnson being the best all-around tight end in the room look for him to emerge from that competition victorious. That said, there will be others seeing plenty of playing time at tight end.
Gonna Play A Whole Lot
Brenton Strange, Tyler Warren
When the 2021 season started Brenton Strange was Penn State’s starter at tight end. In fact, he went on to start all 13 games for the Nittany Lions. Johnson’s six starts came in games where Penn State opened up in 12 personnel.
Strange finished the season with 20 receptions for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, he seemed to disappear out of the passing attack as the season progressed. Especially after a pair of costly drops in the loss against Iowa. With Johnson emerging and Strange finishing the 2021 season on a downward trajectory, this has been an important spring for him. An important redshirt junior season lays ahead.
Redshirt sophomore Tyler Warren should also see plenty of time at tight end, and hopefully just tight end, this season. Warren is best blocking tight end of the group which is wild considering he was a high school quarterback. This alone will lead to Warren seeing plenty of reps in short yardage and red zone situations.
Warren is also no slouch in the passing game. He too appeared in all 13 games last season and hauled in 5 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. Warren is quickly closing the gap between himself and the two tight ends ahead of him.
Redshirt freshman Khalil Dinkins will be another player to watch in the tight end room this season. He came to Penn State as a plus athlete who many people thought may have a future at linebacker.
As of now Dinkins remains at tight end, having added a lot of size to his frame. He is up to 6-foot-4, 233 pounds. If there are injuries at tight end this season, or if the group underperforms again as they did last season, then Dinkins could be in line for an opportunity as a dark horse to see playing time.