STATE COLLEGE (WHTM) – The start of the Penn State football season is less than a week away. Ahead of kickoff, we analyzed how each position will likely look for the Nittany Lions.



Head coach James Franklin has not officially named a starting quarterback for the 2023 season, however, he praised Drew Allar during Tuesday’s press conference, saying Allar has “been really, really good” and that he “thought (Allar) had a great camp.”

Allar enters his sophomore season at Penn State and would be filling the shoes of four-year starter quarterback Sean Clifford following his graduation. Last season, Allar played in 10 games, going 35 for 60 on passes for 344 yards with four touchdowns. The 6-5, 243-pound quarterback ran for 52 yards on 18 attempts, scoring one rushing touchdown.

Allar’s performance in camp has given the entire team and staff “a bunch of confidence” according to Franklin.

Former Central York quarterback Beau Pribula has also been in the quarterback battle with Allar, but has yet to see any playing time after redshirting last season.

Running Backs

All eyes will be on Nicholas Singleton as he enters his sophomore season after he set a freshman program record with 12 rushing touchdowns. The Shillington, Pennsylvania native’s 1,061 rushing yards made Singleton just the 16th Nittany Lion to ever rush for 1,000 yards and just the third freshman to reach the feat.

Singleton’s teammate Kaytron Allen is one to watch also. Allen’s 867 yards made him and Singleton the first freshman teammates in the Big Ten to each have 700+ rushing yards in one season. Allen posted 10 rushing touchdowns for second-most by a Penn State freshman behind Singleton.

Singleton and Allen are a dynamic duo and true threats for Penn State’s opposition.

Wide Receivers

KeAndre Lambert-Smith will be the Nittany Lions’ number one pass catcher this season. The Norfolk, Virginia native has 1,048 career receiving yards; Lambert-Smith is the 37th player in program history to get to have over 1,000.

Harrison Wallace III projects to be the second receiver after catching 19 passes and a touchdown last year in 13 games.

Omari Evans will be entering his sophomore year following a freshman season where he had 55 receiving yards and one touchdown on five receptions. The Texas native returned two kicks for 33 yards. Evans has potential and was even tabbed to the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award watch list ahead of the season, an honor that is given to the best offensive player in Division I football from Texas.

Dante Cephas comes to Penn State after a four-year career at Kent State where he played in nine games with eight starts last year. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native had 48 catches for 744 yards with three touchdowns last year and also set a single-game record with 246 receiving yards on 13 catches at Ohio with the Golden Flashes.

Tight Ends

Theo Johnson will be the ruler of this position. Last season the now junior completed the season in a tie for fourth across Big Ten tight ends for receiving touchdowns with four.

In total, Johnson had nine starts in 11 appearances where he posted 20 passes for 328 yards.

Junior tight end Tyler Warren expects to have a larger role this year after starting three games in 2022 as a sophomore. He had 10 catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Offensive Line

As it stands, the offensive line will likely consist of Hunter Nourzad at center, Sal Wormley likely starting at right guard, Olu Fashanu at left tackle and Caedan Wallace likely at right tackle. It seemed like Landon Tengwall would be returning from injury to play at left guard, but he announced his retirement from football on Aug. 30. JB Nelson may be stepping up to fill the role at left guard now based on comments from Coach Franklin.

Nourzad played in 11 games last season at guard and center with eight starts. For his performance last season at Auburn, when he helped the Lions get 477 yards of offense, Nourzad was named the coaching staff’s offensive player of the game.

Wormley started every game last season at right guard, earning the offensive player of the game honor twice.

Fashanu was a strong asset for Penn State last season. Fashanu started eight games at left tackle, allowing no sacks in 281 pass blocking snaps. The junior was named the offensive player of the game honor twice and is considered one of the best offensive linemen in the country.

The offensive line is a mixture of experienced talent and less experienced players hoping to provide impact to the Lions. It will be an adjustment with Tengwall not suiting up; chemistry will be key to making sure the offensive line performs at a high level this season.



Abdul Carter, Curtis Jacobs, and Kobe King will likely be the most impactful linebackers for Penn State this season. Carter made six starts in 13 appearances last season with 56 tackles, 36 solo, 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. The sophomore led the team in sacks and was second in tackles for loss.

Jacobs started 12 games, making 52 tackles, 29 of which were solo, with 7.5 tackles for loss. Jacobs also had four sacks, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, two pass breakups and an interception returned for a touchdown.

King had 41 tackles, 20 of which were solo, four tackles for loss, broke up three passes and had a quarterback hurry.

Penn State has a solid foundation for veteran linebackers, and they have added freshman Tony Rojas who has the potential to be an important asset. Rojas played three years at Fairfax High School in Virginia where he was captain for two seasons, leading the team to a 13-1 record and a district championship.


Kalen King is one of the many stars in Penn State’s secondary after breaking up 18 passes and picking off quarterbacks three times in 2022. He led the Big Ten in passes defended last year and pass breakups and was eighth in the conference in interceptions.

Johnny Dixon will likely be the starting cornerback. Last season Dixon started 13 games at CB grabbing 23 tackles, with 17 solo, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Defensive Line

The defensive ends to watch for Penn State include Dani Dennis-Sutton, Adisa Isaac and Chop Robinson.

Isaac will likely be starter again following starting all 13 games last season. The redshirt senior had 28 tackles, 15 of which were solo, 11 tackles for loss, which was a team-high, four sacks and eight quarterback hurries.

Isaac tied for sixth in the Big Ten in tackles for loss. Those 11 tackles for loss tied him for third in defensive lineman in the conference.

Robinson played in 12 games last season with 26 tackles, 19 of which were solo, 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Robinson tied for seventh in the Big Ten for sacks.

Dennis-Sutton appeared in 13 games last year and made 17 tackles with three sacks and a pick.

Hakeem Beamon will be the ruler at defensive tackle. Last season, Beamon started in 12 of his 13 game appearances. The redshirt senior had 16 tackles, eight of which were solo, six tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. Beamon’s four pass breakups led the defensive line.

Special Teams

Malick Meiga will have expectations surrounding him following earning Penn State’s award as the best special teams player last season. The wide receiver played in 12 games primarily on special teams and had four tackles and forced a fumble.

Sander Sahaydak will likely have kicker duties after sharing them last season where he connected on a field and extra point.

Riley Thompson will probably be the punter for Penn State. Thompson played last season with Florida Atlantic where he played all 112 games as FAU’s punter. The senior had 61 punts for 2,770 yards with a long of 71. Thompson had 15 punts that were over 50 yards.

The long snapper will likely be Tyler Duzansky who played in seven games as a reserve long snapper for Penn State.