Penn State Football: Offseason Transactions and Changes
The offseason in a year unlike any other, coach James Franklin and company got down to business to continue their path to become an elite team.
After a 4-5 season, a few key pieces of the team decided to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft, which includes tight end Pat Freiermuth, defensive end Shaka Toney and safety Lamont Wade. These players join linebacker Micah Parsons, who opted out of the 2020 season, into pursuing their dreams to play on Sundays.
Among those losses, the coaching staff made some changes, more prominent on the offensive side. The team decided to part ways with offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca after one season with the team, where he managed to score 29 points and gain 269 yards per game.
The tight end department took a hit, when tight ends coach Tyler Bowen, who led the charge for Penn State’s win against the Memphis Tigers in the 2019 Cotton Bowl, took the same job for the Jacksonville Jaguars. To replace Bowen, Franklin decided to promote offensive analyst Ty Howle to the position.
As for the offensive coordinator position, the team decided to go to the southwest to pick up former Texas Longhorns’ offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. Yurcich managed to rack up 42.7 points per game and 475.4 yards per game in the 2019 season.
The transfer portal has had both effects on the team, with key pieces like quarterback Will Levis transferring to Kentucky and offensive guard CJ Thorpe entering the portal. However, Penn State managed to grab four transfers itself: running back John Lovett from Baylor, defensive back Johnny Dixon from South Carolina, defensive end Arnold Ebiketie from Temple, and defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo from Duke University.
Other than additions from the portal, 15 players decided to join the tradition of wearing blue and white on Saturdays. Out of those 15 recruits, seven decided to enroll in January.
Out of those recruits, offensive tackle Landon Tengwall and quarterback Christian Veilleux stand out among the bunch. Tengwall is a 6-foot-6, four-star recruit from Maryland, while Veilleux is a three-star recruit from Maryland, coming in at 6-foot-3.
With all of the new additions flowing into the program, some familiar faces are returning to the team to make a run for a Big Ten Championship. This comes in part with the free year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Star wide receiver Jahan Dotson is coming back for another year, even though some people thought the wideout would declare for the NFL draft. Dotson put up 884 yards on 52 receptions for eight touchdowns on the year, so his talent will complement a rising receiver in Parker Washington.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions return some major experience in the secondary. Safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields decided to come back for one last ride with the team.
In the trenches, defensive tackle PJ Mustipher will help hold down the defensive line for the 2021 season. Mustipher managed to rack up 35 total tackles on the year, but as a main contributor to the defense, those numbers will look to improve.
As the Blue and White Game slowly approaches, some players will experience their first collegiate football game in Beaver Stadium. The rest will slowly get prepared for a season of redemption.
Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Freshman / Broadcast Journalism