Four Graduate Transfers Who Can Help Penn State Football Immediately
The NCAA Transfer Portal has taken the world of college football by storm and left many fans confused in recent weeks, and specifically the world of Penn State football. With seven players entering the portal since the end of the season and presumably more to come, Penn State’s depth and roster have taken big hits in recent weeks courtesy of college football’s newest revelation.
Even if Penn State is able to get its 2019 recruiting class up to a full 25 players by next month’s National Signing Day, the team will still fall well short of the 85-scholarship limit, depending on how many players in the portal leave.
This void opens the door for James Franklin to do what he does best: recruit. The Nittany Lions will need to be aggressive on the graduate transfer market. Graduate transfers are players who have completed their degrees at one university and have a year of eligibility remaining. Here are four players who can play immediately next season and that could plug some of the new holes created at Penn State.
Zach Abercrumbia, defensive tackle, Rice
Abercrumbia is one of the hottest names on the transfer market. In an interview with Rivals, he mentioned Penn State as one of the schools he’s in contact with.
Abercrumbia was an All-Conference USA player last year, recording 55 tackles for the Owls. Other schools in contact are Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, and Mississippi State. Following Kevin Givens’ unexpected departure from the already thin defensive tackle group, expect Franklin and Sean Spencer to make a strong push for Abercrumbia as well as 2019 targets D’Von Ellies, Jaquaze Sorrells, and Joseph Darkwa.
RJ Proctor, offensive guard, Virginia
Proctor appeared in 11 of Virginia’s 13 games this year, with six starts at left guard. One of his starts was the Cavaliers’ 28-0 win in the Belk Bowl against South Carolina, a game in which he played every snap and earned the team’s highest pass protection grade per Pro Football Focus.
Improving depth on the offensive line should be a priority for Penn State after losing Ryan Bates and Connor McGovern early to the draft and Alex Gellerstedt to the transfer portal. Proctor would immediately enter the two-deep on the Nittany Lions depth chart with an opportunity to compete for a starting job at guard. He will be a grad transfer as well, meaning he could play right away this fall.
Josh Newberg of 247Sports reported Proctor plans to visit Penn State, along with Florida State and Texas.
Lawrence Cager, wide receiver, Miami (FL)
Last season, Cager led the Hurricanes with six touchdown receptions and finished second in receiving yards with 374. Both were career highs, as well as a career high 21 receptions.
Cager visited Penn State during his high school recruitment, and as a native of Maryland, has ties to the Northeast. With Juwan Johnson, Deandre Thompkins, and Brandon Polk all departing Penn State’s wide receiver room this offseason, there will be many
drops snaps to replace in 2019. If Franklin decides he wants another veteran rather than fully embracing a youth movement at the position, expect Cager’s name to pop up on the radar.
With a big, 6’5″ frame, Cager is a jump ball specialist, and could serve as a useful big red zone target for the Nittany Lions.
Drew Richmond, offensive tackle, Tennessee
Richmond started 25 games at Tennessee. With Bates and Gellerstedt on the move, there’s a lot of uncertainty at the tackle position for Penn State. The opportunity to earn playing time could be an enticing draw to State College for the Memphis native.
247Sports reported earlier this week Richmond had begun following members of the Penn State coaching staff, pointing to potential interest.
Abercrumbia, Proctor, Cager, and Richmond fill visible needs for Penn State and remain at the top of Penn State’s wish list while it attempts to reload during an offseason that’s already brought more than a few surprises. Additional names will certainly emerge in the coming weeks as Franklin and his staff work to reach the 85-scholarship limit.
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Clifford will take the job left vacant by Trace McSorley, who went 31-9 as the Nittany Lions’ QB1 in three seasons at the helm of the team’s offense.
2019 seems to break a trend for Penn State football, which usually named just three captains per season (one on offense, defense, and special teams).
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