Penn State Nittany Lions College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– Everyone was missing someone important in 2020, but the defense could’ve desperately used the all-around talent of new Dallas Cowboy Micah Parsons.
The linebackers will be just fine. They won’t do anything splashy, but 235-pound Ellis Brooks and 251-pound Jesse Luketa are big hitters who stop the run – they finished 1-2, respectively, in tackles.
They’re for the inside, and Brandon Smith is the one who has to make big things happen on the outside after leading the team with eight tackles for loss. Coming in is great-looking freshman Curtis Jacobs to go along with a slew of other possibilities, and the Nittany Lions have plenty of strong options to play around with.
– In case you haven’t heard – because Baltimore Ravens fans don’t bring it up enough – Jayson Oweh didn’t come up with any sacks last year. Forget the stats; the first rounder was a factor defenses had to deal with. He’s gone, and leading sacker Shaka Toney is on the Washington Football Team.
Getting pass rusher Arnold Ebiketie from Temple is a huge help, but hybrid 6-4, 248-pound Adisa Isaac has the bigger upside after showing glimpses of something big last year.
The ends will be fine and the tackles will be strong despite the loss of Antonio Shelton to the Florida Gators. 6-4, 323-pound PJ Mustipher is a very good, very big veteran on the inside who does all the dirty work – he made 35 tackles – and in comes Derrick Tangelo from Duke to provide an NFL-caliber option inside.
– Super-senior Tariq Castro-Fields only played in three games last year, but he’s an all-star caliber lock down corner on one side. 6-2, 195-pound Joey Porter made 33 tackles last season and didn’t pick off any passes, but he’s one of the several experienced options to work into the mix on the other side.
Jaquan Brisker was the team’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops with a pick and six broken up passes. He’s back at one safety job for a super-senior season, and the combination of seniors Jonathan Sutherland and Ji’Ayir Brown have been around long enough to be okay in the mix.