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Oh, Canada: Jesse Luketa Joins Handful Of Canadian Penn State Football Players

Four-star linebacker Jesse Luketa officially signed his letter of intent to play for Penn State football Wednesday morning.

Coming in as the No. 8 prospect in Pennsylvania, Luketa is a strong player who will certainly bolster the Nittany Lions’ linebacking corps. One thing that sets Luketa apart from the rest of the 2018 class is his Canadian heritage; he hails from Ottawa, Ontario.

Luketa will become one of just a handful of Canadians to play for Penn State football. He’ll join Akeel Lynch, John Urschel, and Pete Giftopoulos as players born north of the border to wind up in Happy Valley. Current players Jon Sutherland and Daniel Joseph also hail from Canada. While Lynch transferred to Nevada ahead of his senior season, Urschel and Giftopoulous both made a huge impact on the Nittany Lions’ during their time in Happy Valley.

Urschel played for the Nittany Lions from 2010-13, earning All-Big Ten honors in 2012 as a senior. The Winnipeg native was an excellent lineman for the Nittany Lions and was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, he is best known for his embodiment of the term “student-athlete” during his college career, winning the Campbell Trophy — also known as the “academic Heisman” — in 2013.

Giftopoulos was a big part of Penn State’s 1986 national championship team. The Hamilton, Ontario native may not have been the best linebacker on Joe Paterno’s team that year, but he undoubtedly made the biggest play of that season.

His fourth down interception of Vinny Testaverde’s pass was one of two he recorded that night, but more importantly, it clinched the 1987 national title game for Penn State, giving the program its second-ever championship.

Luketa’s athleticism makes him an exciting player for defensive coordinator Brent Pry to work with. Given the depth at his position next season, Luketa has a chance to crack the rotation if he picks up on the speed of the college game quick enough.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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