Penn State Football Offensive Tackle Position Battle Could Prove Critical in 2024

Penn State Football, Drew Allar,
Penn State Nittany Lions Quarterback Drew Allar (15) calls out the play prior to the snap during the second half of the College Football Game between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Penn State Nittany Lions on September 2, 2023, at Beaver Stadium in University Park, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

One of the biggest question marks for Penn State Football heading into 2024 is offensive tackle, where the Nittany Lions lose two starting tackles with 5.5 years of combined starting experience.

On the left side, Penn State loses projected top 10 pick Olu Fashanu, who has arguably been the best offensive tackle in the country over the past two seasons. Meanwhile, on the right side, Penn State must replace a four year starter in Caedan Wallace who quietly developed into a solid day two or three pick over the last few years that should solidify his spot on an NFL roster in training camp after the draft.

Heading into 2024, with a new offensive coordinator and it’s top playmakers heading into their final season before NFL draft eligibility (Drew Allar, Nick Singleton, Kaytron Allen), Penn State Football must replace both Wallace and Fashanu and their successors have to step up without a ton of starting experience. Making things more complicated, both tackles are walking into an offense that Penn State needs to be running smoothly to reach lofty expectations for the Nittany Lions first College Football Playoff birth in 2024.

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Penn State Football Top Starting Offensive Tackle Candidates

Left tackle: Drew Shelton

After starting five games in 2022 in relief of an injured Fashanu, Drew Shelton holds the most experience out of any of Penn State’s offensive tackles on the 2024 roster.

Shelton, a former top 150 prospect according to 247Sports composite rankings played the role of Penn State’s sixth offensive lineman in 2023. Now primed for a starting role in 2024, Shelton should continue his play on the left side where he started five games in 2022 and the Peach Bowl last season. 

Right tackle: 

Anthony Donkoh 

The surprise name on this list is Anthony Donkoh, who had not worked at tackle the entire season ahead of Peach Bowl practice, but then played a majority of the second half at right tackle against Ole Miss. A former four star interior guard prospect, Donkoh didn’t look out of place against the Rebels playing tackle and will have the opportunity to compete this spring for the starting spot opposite Shelton.  

Jven Williams

Former five star in-state offensive tackle prospect Jven Williams is one of the most heralded prospects on Penn State’s entire 2024 roster, after ranking as the 25th overall prospect in the 247Sports rankings for the 2023 class. Listed at 6-foot-5 inches and 305 pounds, Williams brings plenty of size and athleticism to the tackle competition this spring. In 2023, Williams played sparingly in three games preserving his redshirt. 


Nolan Rucci 

During his recruitment, many Penn State fans thought former five star Nolan Rucci out of the 2020 class would end up at Penn State. Now three seasons later, Rucci transferred from Wisconsin to Penn State, bringing the former top Pennsylvania prospect back to Happy Valley for good. At Wisconsin, Rucci played sporadically, but did get extended run in Wisconsin’s Reliaquest Bowl loss against LSU. At 6-foot-8 inches, 305 pounds, Rucci could used the rest of winter and spring to add a few more pounds to his long frame ahead of the competition through spring and fall practices. Rucci brings the most experience to the competition out of these three, with experience in the Big Ten over three seasons. 

Wild card: JB Nelson

While JB Nelson more than likely slots in as a starter again at guard in 2024, Nelson did have experience at tackle as a JUCO prospect before his time at Penn State. If Penn State does not feel great about the other names on the list after spring practice, Nelson could slide back out to tackle. 

The position battle for the starting spot at right tackle and for playing time as Penn State’s swing tackle is one of the most intriguing battles through spring practice and fall camp. The outcome of the battle and the level of play that Penn State gets out of the tackle position could very well determine if Penn State breaks through and finally reaches the College Football Playoff for the first time and if Drew Allar reaches his full potential this season as a second year starter. 

MORE: Ranking Penn State’s Biggest Worries for 2024 Season

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