Who Are the Next Big Names for Penn State Football?
Another season has concluded for Penn State football, and another offseason is starting where the Nittany Lions will have to replace a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Along with seniors Trace McSorley, Amani Oruwariye and Nick Scott, Penn State had five underclassmen declare for the NFL Draft.
Miles Sanders, Ryan Bates, Connor McGovern, Shareef Miller and Kevin Givens all announced last week that they would forgo their final seasons of eligibility in Happy Valley in favor of the pros. Replacing all of these players is not going to be easy, but here’s a look at who is waiting in the wings for James Franklin and the rest of the Nittany Lions.
Replacing the best quarterback in the history of the program will be no easy task, but it looks like a Happy Valley fan favorite will finally get his chance. We have seen Tommy Stevens a lot all over the football field playing every position, but all signs point to him finally getting his shot to lead the offense in 2019. Stevens has an injury history though, and if things go wrong Sean Clifford is also waiting in the wings. Clifford looked great in mop-up duty this season, throwing two touchdown passes. Talented four-star recruit Michael Robinson Jr. is definitely in the future picture, but he will most likely redshirt in 2019.
For the second straight season, Penn State will have to replace a dynamic playmaking running back in Sanders. This will definitely be one of the most entertaining battles in camp, but Ricky Slade looks like the leader right now. The former five star recruit averaged 5.7 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns in his true freshman season. Two four star freshmen in Noah Cain and Devyn Ford will definitely compete for carries when they join the team in the spring and summer. Also watch out for the speedy Journey Brown as a change of pace back next season.
This will be the toughest position to replace, losing two starters in Bates and McGovern. Mike Miranda looks like the leader to step in for McGovern at right guard. He has a couple games of starting experience with the Nittany Lions and looks like the starter moving forward. Right tackle is the real battle. Alex Gellerstedt, Rasheed Walker and junior college transfer Anthony Whigan will all compete for the starting job in the spring and summer in one of the most interesting position battles.
This is a position that the Nittany Lions are extremely deep in, so this should be a fun battle in camp. Replacing Miller at defensive end will likely be a battle between Shane Simmons, who battled injury issues last season, Shaka Toney, who had five sacks last season, and talented redshirt freshman Jayson Oweh. Antonio Shelton and PJ Mustipher look like the leaders to replace Kevin Givens at defensive tackle, both of them saw a lot of playing time in defensive rotations last season. Fred Hansard also saw playing time before suffering a season-ending leg injury. If Hansard is fully recovered, he will definitely compete too.
Penn State starts spring practice in March with the annual Blue-White game set for April 13. It should be fun to see these position battles play out as we look ahead to the 2019 season.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.