Penn State Football returns plenty of talent from its 2023 roster that won 10 games heading into 2024, including its starting quarterback, two starting running backs, and one of the top tight ends in the country.
However, after a wave of NFL draft departures at key positions, Penn State will look to a few incoming players not on the 2023 roster for key playing time in 2024.
Here are the top five incoming players that can make an impact for Penn State next season.
5 Penn State Football Newcomers to Watch
1. Wide receiver Julian Fleming
Although the former five-star receiver’s career did not go according to plan in scarlet and grey, Fleming’s addition to Penn State’s roster sets up to benefit both Fleming and the Nittany Lions. In 2023, Penn State failed to get consistent play out of the receiver position, with only one receiver accounting for more than 250 yards.
Fleming brings plenty of experience a Penn State receiver room that sorely needs an influx of consistency and production if Penn State is to reach the expanded college football playoff next season.
With 963 career yards and seven touchdowns in his four-year career, Fleming becomes one of the most experienced and consistent receivers on the Nittany Lions roster heading into 2024. Starting quarterback Drew Allar and Penn State will lean on both Fleming’s leadership ability and talent to propel the passing game forward in 2024.
2. Cornerback AJ Harris
With Penn State’s starting three cornerbacks off to the 2024 NFL draft, Tom Allen‘s defense is in need of replacing a ton of talent and experience at the position in 2024.
With two SEC cornerback transfer pickups in AJ Harris and Jalen Kimber, Penn State cornerback coach Terry Smith reloaded well at the position to add to the room already filled with young talent in Zion Tracy, Cam Miller, and Elliot Washington. Out of the room, former five-star AJ Harris may not be the most experienced after one season at Georgia, however, the young cornerback may be the most talented player in the room come fall.
Penn State Football should lean on Harris for a ton of playing time next season in replacement of Kalen King, Daequan Hardy, and Johnny Dixon.
3. Cornerback Jalen Kimber
Another name in the cornerback room that will be counted on next season is Florida transfer Jalen Kimber.
Kimber comes to State College after two seasons with the Florida Gators and two seasons before that with Georgia. The most experienced cornerback in the room by far, Kimber will be leaned on for his experience with most of Penn State’s other cornerbacks carrying freshman or sophomore status.
4. Kicker Chase Meyer
Probably the most underrated transfer pickup for Penn State, Tulsa transfer kicker Chase Meyer will compete with Sander Sahaydak for the starting kicker position next fall. After seeing transfer kicker Alex Felkins convert all 47 of his extra points and 79.2 percent of his field goal attempts in 2023, Penn State is again looking to create competition at the position to continue the exceptional play in 2024.
Meyer converted 85 percent of his field goal attempts and 96.8 percent of his extra point attempts in 2024, including a career long 47-yard field goal. As it did in 2023, the competition between Meyer and Sahaydak may continue until the fall, but the sophomore transfer will have the opportunity to prove his worth at the position in 2024.
Tight end Luke Reynolds
While this list so far has been all transfer players, there are a few true freshmen that can make an impact for Penn State in 2024. After a fantastic finish to his high school career, offensive lineman Cooper Cousins could be set to compete for playing time in 2024 for Penn State, however it is hard to play as a true freshman in the Big Ten on the offensive line.
Instead, I chose tight end Luke Reynolds for this list. Reynolds started his high school career as a quarterback and transitioned into the tight end position.
While he is still relatively new to the position, his talent is undeniable as evidenced by his meteoric rise to heralded five-star status. While Penn State is still loaded at talent at the tight end position even with Theo Johnson’s departure for the 2024 NFL draft, Reynolds could still earn himself playing time with strong spring and summer camps.
Penn State will be replacing quite a bit of talent in 2024, particularly on the offensive line and at cornerback. However, with the new pieces and the talent already on the roster, Penn State should still find itself competing for a spot in the inaugural 12 team playoff in 2024.
Spring practice and summer camp will be vital for these players if they want to carve out a role for the Nittany Lions next fall.