It’s the off-season, and there have been plenty of discussions on what Penn State needs to work on for the 2023 season.
“Oh no, if (insert position group) doesn’t improve, Penn State will certainly struggle against (insert opposing team) and won’t ever (insert outlandish-but-maybe-technically-attainable-season-goal)!”
Well, I’ve had enough of that. It’s the summer, dagnabit, and I want to enjoy myself. So, pray tell, which position groups give you exactly zero concerns heading into the 2023 season? When all is dark and full of despair, what group can you look at and see a beacon of hope amidst the stormy seas of off-season doubters?
Nicholas Singleton. Kaytron Allen. Lightning and Thunder. Thing 1 and Thing 2. Whatever you want to call them, the dynamic duo sophomore running backs are sure to warm the cockles of even the most jaded Penn State fan’s heart. Entering the season last year, running back was Keyvone Lee (who suffered from injuries), Devyn Ford (who suffered from always being buried on the depth chart), and a bunch of freshmen.
Now? Alles ist gut.
The freshmen very quickly outpaced the upperclassmen, causing Ford to enter the transfer portal in the middle of the season, and for Lee to join him once the year was over. Singleton came out with a bang, and established himself as the homerun hitter, while Allen was the dependable, always-falls-forward-for-a-couple-extra-yards back. Yet as the year went on, both players evolved. Singleton became more patient, giving his blockers time to set up an opening for him, and Allen stepped up his game in both pass protection and as a receiver.
Add in veteran transfer Trey Potts, and incoming freshmen Cam Wallace and London Montgomery, and the running back room is all gravy, baby.
Penn State’s secondary across the board has been shutdown the last couple years, thanks in large part to a series of stellar cornerback play. That trend continues with Kalen King and Johnny Dixon manning the outside spots for the defense. King was targeted last year when defenses shied away from Joey Porter, Jr. (understandably), but did not fare all that well in doing so (also understandably). Dixon has been in the CB rotation since he transferred to University Park, and appears set to lock down the other starting position.
At nickelback, Daequan Hardy has been Mr. Reliable, offering a solid third CB in obvious passing situations. The backups include transfer Audavion Collins and Cam Miller, putting the secondary in excellent hands all around.
They gon’ eat. They hungry. They got that dawg in them. They get after it. They eat sack lunches.
Whatever other slightly aggressive phrase you want to use, the defensive end room is gooooood. The starting duo of Adisa Isaac and Chop Robinson is fearsome in its own right, but when the team goes into obvious passing downs and Dani Dennis-Sutton (DDS for short because, c’mon that’s a lot of letters) comes onto the field, whew lad. That triumvirate of DEs may be the best the Lions have had under Franklin (there have been lots of duos in the last few years, but how many trios?), and should terrorize QBs all year long.
Add on that the DE room is deeeeeeeep. Amin Vanover, Zuriah Fisher, and Smith Vilbert would likely start for half of the Big Ten, and are not lacking for experience. An embarrassment of riches at defensive end, you might say (I certainly won’t stop you).
But what about you? Which position groups give you the warm and fuzzies sitting here on a balmy July Monday morning?