Penn State Football Roster Rundown Part 2: Defense edition


After breaking down the incredible Penn State Offense, it’s time to turn our attention to the other side of the ball. Here’s your position-by-position breakdown of the Penn State Nittany Lions Defense ahead of the new season.

Penn State Football Roster Rundown: Offense edition

Junior Torrence Brown and Sophomore Shareef Miller should be the starting ends on this “Wild Dog” defensive line. Brown should have a breakout season after posting 33 tackles and 6 tackles for a loss. His ability to rush the passer is vicious and getting more snaps should see his numbers increase. As the season went on, Miller became better and better. He will be a beast on the other end. That’s not the worst for opposing offenses however.

5 star talent redshirt Freshman Shane Simmons is here. He has the strength and speed to be a dominant force at end and could even take one of the Defensive end jobs as the season goes on.

Sophomore Ryan Bucholz is a 6-6 270 pounder that can also play tackle. He had 4.5 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks last season and will likely be a big contributor to this line.

Redshirt Freshman Shaka Toney is a Penn state gem out the 2016 class that many have been anticipating to get on the field and has been impressing coaches ever since his arrival. His talent adds another monster to the pass rush.

Daniel Joseph was a top 12 defensive end in 2016 and is another talented piece on the defensive line that adds great talent to the already serious depth at defensive end.

RECRUITING 2017: If you think the talent and depth at defensive end was slowing down, you are mistaken. The future should see even more of a talented bunch take the field. 4 star Yetur Matos might be the most talented prospect in the 2017 class. Matos is a vicious monster at end that has the makings of an All-American, along with 4 star Damion Barber who is a reckless monster who gets to the quarterback with power and explosion. Both are 5 star talents.


Defensive Tackle:
Sophomore Kevin Givens had 26 total tackles with 7 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks last year. This coming season, we should expect those numbers to rise and for him to be one of the most disruptive forces in the B1G conference.

Senior Curtis Cothren is a physical force in the middle against the run game who had 4.5 tackles for a loss last year. But he has the potential to be more than that. Coaches have praised Cothran and alongside Givens in the middle, the Lions should have two studs that will be very productive.

Senior Parker Cothren had 5.5 tackles for a loss last season and will be another player who will contribute big for the defensive line.

Sophomore Robert Windsor is a very talented linemen who with a year of experience, will be even more disruptive as he continues to get better. Windsor is a great penetrator up the middle who will be a key piece at the tackle position.

Senior Tyrell Chavis adds another big bruiser as a run stopper and Redshirt Freshman Antonio Shelton is an underrated player who can stop the run as well as rush the quarterback.

Sophomore Ryan Monk has become a favorite of Coach Franklin. He is on record describing his work ethic and attitude as being impressive. Monk, Shelton, Windsor, and Chavis are 4 big guys who will rotate on this line that will give Penn state impressive dept. As we know, Spencer will keep bodies fresh and ready.

The one guy who everyone should watch this season is redshirt Freshman Ellison Jordan. He was a top 200 player in 2016, top 20 DT, no. 6 in Maryland and the no.4 rated recruit in Penn state’s 2016 class. Look for him to be a contributor and make a difference on this line. He has good speed for his size at 6-0, 285 lbs and has all the tools to be an All-B1G performer. The more snaps he plays, the better he will get.


RECRUITING 2017: 4 star New Jersey monster Fred Hansard was a great get when he decided to de-commit from Florida. At 6-3 310 he is a total difference maker when he steps on the field. 3 star Corey Bolds is another key DT, also from the Jersey, he will be a key piece as he adds more strength to the Wild Dog line.


In just 9 games, Senior Linebacker Jason Cabinda had 81 tackles. I believe that is just gearing up for what will be the season the monster is unleashed. He has NFL starter talent and the way he plays effects and changes the whole game.

Junior Manny Bowen was a pure stud at linebacker last season. He had 68 tackles 8.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Although Bowen suspended for the Rose Bowl, his presence is vital. He can rush the passer and can cover at a high level.

Junior Koa Farmer is going to be a predator on defense, his speed and aggressive style will give opposing quarterbacks nightmares. Senior Brandon Smith stepped in greatly when Penn State had injury issues at linebacker, adding outstanding depth.

4 star Cam Brown is another very talented player who also came in to save the Lions when injuries struck at linebacker last year. Brown possesses a high IQ and can be an all-B1G linebacker in the future with his potential.

Junior Jake Cooper battled injuries last year but is another talented linebacker for Penn state, not to mention the sleeper of the entire group.

Converted safety Jarvis Miller is extremely athletic and has been showing great skill that has impressed coaches. That would give LBU seven talented linebackers. This position is filled with not only players of talent but proven productive starters.

RECRUITING 2017: PSU addressed a position of need in the 2017 recruiting class. 4 star MLB Ellis Brooks was another late key commit, a natural leader that can command a defense. Brelin Faison-Walden is a safety/linebacker hybrid. He is quick, stays around the ball and excellent in coverage. 3 star Brailyn Franklin could be the most special out the three a great senior year in high school saw his stock raise; He can rush the passer and is a great tackler.


The unfortunate injury of junior star cornerback John Reid was a big blow to this secondary. Reid is a talented playmaker and one of the best cornerbacks in the B1G conference. His 10 pass defenses led the lions.

6-1 Senior Christian Campbell is up next, he had a good year last season and was second on the team in passes defensed with 7 and has been impressive in camp. Campbell will start alongside fellow senior standout Grant Haley, who had 39 tackles and 4 pass defenses; he is one of the toughest playmakers in the country.

Last season saw a lot of cornerbacks step up due to injuries, but this year Penn State is both more talented and deep in this position. 6-1 junior Amani Oruwariye provides another tall, long, talented, physical, corner.

Freshman cornerback Lamont Wade is an absolute stud and he has been proving it in camp. Wade is not only a 5 star cornerback but a 5 star athlete who can be dangerous on defense and offense. Wade will offer serious playmaking ability to the secondary.

Redshirt freshman Zech McPhearson is another talented corner. a 4 star standout that is a ball hawk. Zmac will add another playmaker with good speed to the secondary along with 3 star 6-2 T.J. Johnson. Johnson is another redshirt freshman who is a tall corner with a lot of talent; I believe his size and talent when called on will help with big receivers.

Junior transfer Jabari Butler, a walk-on transfer, is a talent and not just added depth. Butler played for FCS school Abilene Christian in Texas, in his freshman year Butler had 40 tackles, led the team with 6 interceptions and 9 pass break-ups and was selected as the Southland conference freshman of the year. Butler is fast and explosive he will battle for time I feel his time is next year as far as playing corner unless injuries happen. He reportedly can run in the 4.3’s. Not only can he return kickoffs, he can tackle. Last year Penn state had a lot of injuries to the secondary the lions made sure they will be ready this time around.

RECRUITING 2017: Cornerback Lamont Wade is the prime gem of this class, the Clairton superstar is primed and ready to impact right away. 4 star Tariq Castro-Fields was another great get for the lions who has star written all over him. 4 star Donovan Johnson is another two way cornerback who can not only be a shutdown corner but a weapon on offense and returning the ball, he is an electric and fast with the ball. 3 star D.J. Brown is another underrated and under looked player at 5-11, he is a ball hawk and loves to make the big play.


Senior Marcus Allen had a break out season and let the nation know he is one of the best safeties in the country. Allen registered a team leading 110 tackles and 6 tackles for losses. Last season he established himself as an NFL talent and will terrorize the B1G conference one more year.

The next safety spot should be a fun competition to watch. Junior Nick Scott is a valuable player to the team. Scott was a top 25 athlete coming out of high school switching from running back he has become a valuable player not only at safety but special teams.

Senior Troy Apke was once a 3 star receiver recruit and now is a quality safety who had 28 tackles and 1 interception last season. Ayron Monroe is a very talented Safety that the staff always raves about, his athleticism and physical play stands out.

Garrett Taylor is probably the most talented of the 3 that were mentioned, Taylor was once a 4 star cornerback and top 100 player in his class. Taylor has all the physical tools to be an elite safety and was moved to safety because of the number of corners on the team. Injuries have slowed Taylor and allowed others to pass him on the depth chart; he will have some competition to get playing time.

Sophomore John Petrishen, once the no.2 rated safety in Pennsylvania, is a 3 star quality safety that adds more depth to this team. The question is who will start beside Marcus Allen? If Garrett Taylor has arrived there is no question with his size and ball skills he is the starter. If Taylor is not ready Scott, Monroe, and Apke will battle it out either way Penn state does have solid and interesting depth.

RECRUITING: 4 star Johnathan Southerland is a beast, Sutherland hits hard and can stop the run he will be an imposing physical force and I think he will replace Marcus Allen when he leaves after this season.


Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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