Penn State Football

Penn State Football: Ranking Top Position Battles to Watch Entering Spring Practice

Penn State Football is set to enter 2024 with a roster loaded with talent, but tasked with finding new starters at key positions on offense, defense, and special teams.

After finding reinforcements in the transfer portal at offensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback, and kicker, the Nittany Lions staff must now sort through the roster to figure out how to replace a load of starting talent headed off to the NFL with younger talent on Penn State‘s 2024 roster.

Heading into spring practice, here are a few key position battles to keep an eye on for Penn State.

Penn State Football key Position Battles

Right Tackle

Penn State Football loses both its starting tackles from its 2023 roster to the NFL draft after draft declarations from Caedan Wallace and Olu Fashanu.

Penn State does return freshmen Jven Williams, Anthony Donkoh, and senior JB Nelson along the offensive line and picked up former five-star offensive tackle Nolan Rucci out of the transfer portal from Wisconsin.

With Drew Shelton penciled in as the starting left tackle to replace Fashanu, Williams, Donkoh, Nelson, and Rucci will compete throughout the spring and summer (and possibly into fall) to replace a four-year starter in Wallace on the right side.

Nelson could also start at guard but has tackle experience in junior college that the staff could look to in the competition.


Defensive End

Another position where Penn State Football loses two starters heading into 2024 is defensive end. Both Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac are off to the NFL draft after anchoring a standout defensive line that ranked at the top of the nation in 2023 for the Nittany Lions.

With Dani Dennis-Sutton essentially playing the role of the third starter at defensive end in 2023, Penn State will look to find a second starter to play opposite Dennis-Sutton throughout spring and fall camp.

Penn State returns plenty of talent at the defensive end position in veterans Amin Vanover, Smith Vilbert, and Zuriah Fisher and talented freshman Jameial Lyons.

In addition to figuring out a starter out of the group, defensive line coach Deion Barnes and new defensive coordinator Tom Allen will look to sort through the whole rotation at defensive end with plenty of playing time available even for players left out of the starting lineup.


Cornerback is the only position where Penn State loses more talent than defensive end or offensive tackle, where Penn State will be without its top three corners from 2023 when the 2024 season opens.

To help build depth and competition with Johnny Dixon, Kalen King, and Daequan Hardy off to the NFL, Penn State went portal heavy at the position picking up AJ Harris from Georgia and Jalen Kimber from Florida out of the transfer portal in January.

Penn State Football also returns talented youngsters Cam Miller, Zion Tracy, and Elliot Washington, that got extended playing time in the Peach Bowl with King and Dixon’s opt outs.

Heading into 2024, Penn State has plenty of talent at the cornerback position, but cornerbacks coach Terry Smith certainly has his work cut out for him sorting through the group to find three starters.

Penn State will see plenty of new faces in the starting lineup when the Nittany Lions step onto the field in week one in Morgantown.

Until then, head coach James Franklin and staff will have the opportunity to use spring practice to sort through the roster to find any holes that need to be filled in the second portal window before heading to fall camp.

There will be plenty of competition to keep an eye on throughout the spring and fall before Penn State hits the field for game action and Nittany Central will keep you updated every step of the way.

MORE: What Went Wrong for Nick Singleton in 2023, How He Can Bounce Back

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