It’s time for our annual season top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A first place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on.
Reminder: This is a Top 10 for how the players will produce this season. It’s not just based on what they have done in their career up to this point. Instead, it’s how we think they will play this coming season.
HOW HE GOT HERE
Abdul Carter entered Penn State as a four-star linebacker prospect, and quickly established himself as the next great Nittany Lion in the middle of the defense. He started six of 13 games as a true freshman, posting 56 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups, (including several near-interceptions), and a team-leading 6.5 sacks. Carter was named to multiple Freshmen All-American teams, and earned second team All-Big Ten honors from the media. No other Penn State freshman besides current defensive line coach Deion Barnes has had a season with double-digit tackles for loss and 6 sacks.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2023
What should be scary for Penn State opponents is that Carter can get better. He was able to be very successful utilizing his athletic ability, but after a full year in Manny Diaz’s defense, Carter should be improve upon his performance as a freshman. If his ball skills have improved even slightly, running backs, slot receivers, and tight ends should be very nervous running patterns in the open field. Look for Carter to hold onto at least one pass this season, as well as approach double-digit sacks and tackles for loss. If he continues on this trajectory, Abdul Carter could be next in the line of Nittany Lions to win the Butkus and Bednarik Awards before his time in the Blue and White has ended.