PJ Mustipher, Coziah Izzard
PJ Mustipher will start at defensive tackle. That is set in stone. Coming off a season ending injury that was suffered in the Iowa loss last season Mustipher has taken it easy this spring and will not play much in the Blue White Game, but he is expected to start and be one of the best defensive tackles in the Big Ten this season.
While it remains up in the air as to who will start opposite Mustipher, and multiple other defensive tackles will see plenty of playing time, the edge likely goes to Coziah Izzard. Following Mustipher’s injury last season Izzard saw his role increase and he played very well for the Nittany Lions. Izzard should be a good 3-tech to pair with Mustipher at the 1-tech.
Gonna Play A Whole Lot
D’Von Ellies, Jordan van den Berg, Hakeem Beamon
D’Von Ellies stepped up in a big way last fall after Mustipher was lost for the season. The fellow native Marylander more than held his own at the 1-tech and should take another step forward this season. Ellies would be a no doubt starter for a lot of Power 5 programs.
Like Ellies, Jordan van den Berg was a player who saw his role grow down the stretch last season. He forced a fumble against Maryland and was a terror for the Arkansas offensive line in the Outback Bowl. The former Iowa Community College standout should be in line for a bigger role this fall, bringing an explosive and athletic changeup to the Penn State’s defensive tackles.
There may not be bigger wild card on the Penn State defense in 2022 than Hakeem Beamon. Originally expected to start opposite Mustipher last season, Beamon missed the entire season due to what was described as a “none football matter.” This spring Beamon has been practicing with the first team but James Franklin continues to mention that Beamon still has work to do to get to where he needs to be. If Beamon can get everything in order that he needs to off the field he could easily ascend to a starting role this fall.
True freshman Zane Durant will be a dark horse to watch at the position. Since arrive on campus in January he has done nothing but garner praise from both his teammates and coaches. Durant has already worked his way into the two-deep at spring practices. While it is very difficult for a true freshman to make an impact at defensive tackle, Durant may be able to do that this fall.