PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Kevin Givens Could Help Solve Penn State’s Defensive Tackle Conundrum

Kevin Givens appeared all set to sign with Pitt on Feb. 4, 2015, but a late offer from the Nittany Lions proved paramount for the nearby Altoona, Pa., standout, as he flipped his commitment to Penn State just hours before National Signing Day.

Givens played all over the field in high school, but particularly shined at outside linebacker and defensive end, where he could put his hulking strength to optimal use off the edge. Givens was instrumental in leading the Cougars to their first appearance in the PIAA state playoffs since joining the WPIAL — home to Pittsburgh powers like Central Catholic and Woodland Hills — and was named a AAA First-Team All-State selection by Pennsylvania Football News as a senior.

The former three-star prospect held only five reported offers from Penn State, Pitt, Temple, UMass, and Western Michigan, but his rapid development and powerful frame may have college coaches shaking their heads at a missed opportunity. Givens is the type of athlete who excels in various arenas, as evidenced by the fact that he garnered a seventh-place finish in the PIAA boys’ AAA shot put last May on an even 53-foot toss.

After taking a redshirt this past season to adjust to the speed of the college game and pack on some needed weight, Givens’ stock has skyrocketed during spring ball thanks to Penn State’s lackluster depth at his new position — defensive tackle.

Givens was listed at 6-foot-1, 267 pounds on the latest version of Penn State’s roster, marking a nearly 30-pound increase from his arrival weight last summer. His team-leading 635-pound max single squat and 410-pound bench press (fourth best) during winter testing more than hints at his sheer explosiveness, which ought to strike fear into opposing teams as soon as this coming fall. It originally looked like defensive line coach Sean Spencer would groom Givens at defensive end, but the departures of Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel to the NFL Draft coupled with his prowess in the weight room, made him a perfect candidate to compete for time on the inside.

James Franklin took notice of his offseason efforts, and lauded the promising tackle during media availability. “A guy that’s really doing some nice things for us right now is Kevin Givens,” Franklin said. “He’s the talk of spring ball right now. He’s just so explosive, so strong, and he’s been a guy that’s really stood out so far.”

The two defensive tackles who return the most gameday experience — Parker Cothren and Antoine White — have yet to log significant snaps on Saturdays due to Penn State’s stocked cupboard at their spot the past few seasons. While classmates Kam Carter and Robert Windsor boast more physically intimidating physiques, checking in at 305 and 285 pounds, respectively, Givens has quietly made the most of his first year on campus and could surpass both on the wide-open defensive tackle depth chart.

Though three-star JUCO signee Tyrell Chavis will arrive this summer, immediately providing another game-ready tackle, it isn’t a guarantee that he’ll be able to adjust to new defensive coordinator Brent Pry’s system. Givens’ familiarity with the program’s intricate verbiage, in terms of scheme, should give him an excellent chance to earn a coveted spot in the rotation.

But before Givens and the Nittany Lions can turn up the heat on some key position battles during preseason camp, Penn State fans will have their first chance to see what he can do at the Blue-White Game on April 16.

About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]


State College Links
More by Ethan

Penn State Women’s Lacrosse Loses To Northwestern 17-13

Katie O’Donnell and Maria Auth combined for nine goals in Saturday’s setback to the Wildcats at Panzer Stadium.

McSorley, Scott, Gillikin Named Penn State Football Captains

DeAndre Thompkins Settles Into Veteran Role For Penn State


Penn State Men’s Lacrosse’s Ryan Keenan Selected In MLL Draft

The Ohio State took the Nittany Lion senior with the 54th overall pick in the sixth round of the draft — making it the fifth-straight year Penn State had a player selected in the MLL collegiate draft. Seven Nittany Lions have been drafted to play in the top-level pro league since 2014.

Penn State Baseball Snaps Eleven-Game Losing Streak Against Mount St. Mary’s

Penn State Softball No Match For Saint Francis In Doubleheader

Penn State Hoops To Host Grad Transfers Blue-White Weekend

Mulhern, Shigo Better Their Own School Records In Action-Packed Track And Field Weekend

Student Life

A Guide To Penn State’s Best Library Study Spots

A few of our staff members found their favorite libraries across campus and shared why love them for their uninterrupted study sessions.

Sig Ep To Host Humboldt Broncos Benefit Fundraiser

UPUA Funds Late-Night Coffee For Finals Week

Saquon Barkley Shows Some Skin On SI Cover

The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 26, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Barkley is expected to be a top-five pick, and he and his most vehement supporters say there’s no reason he won’t go No. 1 overall.

Position Battles To Watch At This Year’s Blue-White Game

The competition at middle linebacker, safety, and tight end will all be interesting storylines surrounding the 2018 Blue-White spring game.

Dry Weather Expected For Blue-White Weekend

Predicted temperatures in the mid-50s and mostly cloudy skies should make for a pleasant (but more importantly, dry) Blue-White Weekend.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

The Worst Places To Propose At Penn State

If you’re planning to propose to your Penn State sweetheart somewhere in Happy Valley, steer clear of these locations.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Send this to a friend