Penn State Football could be primed for a bounce-back campaign in 2022, after finishing 11-11 over the past two seasons, especially if several key veteran defenders play up to their expectations.
As the 2022 season approaches, a pair of Nittany Lions defenders were named to Athlon Sports’ Preseason All-Big Ten First-Team, as safety Ji’Ayir Brown and nose tackle P.J. Mustipher cracked the outlet’s rankings.
Mustipher was integral to Penn State Football’s fast start last season, and ascension to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings, prior to suffering a season-ending injury in the Nittany Lions’ loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The 6-foot-4 and 320-pound run-stuffer is one of Penn State Football’s biggest reasons for optimism, ahead of the regular season opener at Purdue. Mustipher finished last season with 21 total tackles, three tackles for loss, and one sack in five games prior to getting injured.
Brown, meanwhile, opted to return to Penn State Football for one more season, rather than declaring for the NFL Draft this spring, and anchors a secondary that figures to be a backbone of the Nittany Lions’ defense.
Following a standout performance in Penn State Football’s Outback Bowl loss to Arkansas, optimism is high that Brown builds on his 2021 success. Brown logged 73 total tackles, intercepted six passes, returning one for a touchdown, while adding one sack, five pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumbles.
Under Diaz’ tutelage, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Nittany Lions’ defense level-up this season, especially as Mustipher and Brown are joined by Second-Team All-Big Ten cornerback Joey Porter Jr., and linebacker Curtis Jacobs garnering preseason recognition.
Mustipher and Brown have the potential to be cornerstones of new coordinator Manny Diaz’s defense, and must might hold the keys to a Penn State Football rebound this fall.
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