Jonathan Sutherland Steps Up In Garrett Taylor’s Absence

When Penn State safety Garrett Taylor was ejected for targeting in Saturday’s 33-28 win over Indiana, backup Jonathan Sutherland was more than ready for the challenge.

The redshirt freshman from Ottawa by way of Episcopal High School in Virginia finished with seven tackles and a game-changing forced fumble against the Hoosiers.

With the Nittany Lions leading 26-21 less than three minutes into the fourth quarter, Blake Gillikin punted it away to dangerous return man J-Shun Harris. Sutherland sprinted downfield and jarred the ball loose, allowing fellow safety Nick Scott, who was already on the ground, to recover it on the Indiana 32-yard line.

Five plays later, Trace McSorley scored his second rushing touchdown of the evening from 4 yards out to give Penn State just enough breathing room for the win.

Since Taylor was ejected in the third quarter, he’ll miss the entire first half of next Saturday’s game against Iowa at Beaver Stadium. Sutherland will likely make his first career start versus the Hawkeyes.

“Jonathan Sutherland, all the way back to the spring game, is a guy who flashes,” James Franklin said in September. “We’re talking about getting him more involved. I think he’s one of the better tacklers on our defense.”

Sutherland (26) gathers for the alma mater following the Kent State win.

Through the first seven games of his debut season, Sutherland is ninth on the team with 25 total tackles. He’s solidified himself as the first safety off the bench for defensive coordinator Brent Pry and could be in line to start next season.

Sutherland recorded a career-high eight tackles in the 63-24 win over Illinois on Sept. 21. The former four-star prospect instills fear in receivers crossing the middle with his penchant for dishing out hard hits.

He’s also part of a trio of Canadians-turned-Nittany Lions, joining redshirt sophomore defensive end Daniel Joseph and true freshman linebacker Jesse Luketa, who hail from Brampton and Ottawa, respectively.

Indiana’s offense ran a staggering 100 plays against the Nittany Lions Saturday at Memorial Stadium, but Sutherland and the rest of the defense held strong despite the lopsided time of possession.

Giving up 554 total yards is tough to overcome for any defense — especially after consecutive fourth-quarter letdowns — but Penn State somehow found a way to improve to 5-2. A win over Iowa would secure bowl eligibility for the fifth straight season under Franklin.

Sutherland and his signature dreadlocks are sure to be a familiar sight in Penn State’s secondary for the next several years.

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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].

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