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So You Drafted Penn State DE/LB Jesse Luketa

You just gained a versatile team player who loves contact.

Ball State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

How He Got Here

Luketa came to Happy Valley as a four-star prospect, selecting the Nittany Lions over offers from a long list of suitors, including Ohio State, Georgia, LSU, Auburn and many others. He was able to see time as a true freshman, gaining valuable experience as part of the linebacker rotation. He became a mainstay in 2019 as a sophomore, contributing 24 tackles and excelling in pass defense. He became one of the defense’s most productive players in the shortened 2020 season with 59 tackles, 2.5 TFLs and a fumble recovery.

Luketa’s development continued his senior year, where he also proved his selflessness and versatility. After a host of injuries thinned the depth at defensive line, Luketa agreed to move from his natural position at middle linebacker to move to defensive end. While he only finished with .5 sacks, he had a career best 8.5 TFLs, 61 total tackles and a wildly athletic pick-six that proved to be the victory seal against Ball State.

What You’re Getting

A versatile player with a nose for the ball who will do anything to help his team win. No one has questioned his effort as he always leaves every ounce of energy on the field and never takes plays off. This has made him one of the recent leaders of the program, gaining regular praise from the coaching staff and a locker room favorite.

Luketa switched back-and-forth from defensive end to middle linebacker seamlessly as a senior. There were games where he would even switch positions at halftime due to injuries or targeting ejections. He never showed any displeasure about having to do so, even though remaining at linebacker for one more season would have further boosted his draft stock.

Luketa has all the elements coaches are looking for as someone who has proven to put the work into his development that has seen him go from a longshot from Ottawa to a standout in the Big Ten. He may not have the quickness to excel at defensive end, but should be able to develop into a quality starter at linebacker in a year or two. He will certainly contribute on special teams from day one.