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Penn State Football Releases First Depth Chart Of 2019 Season

Penn State football released its first depth chart of the 2019 season ahead of James Franklin’s pre-Idaho press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ve had a great camp,” Franklin said at his pre-Idaho press conference. “We’re as healthy as we’ve been after a camp in a long time. We’re excited for an important week of prep and the opportunity to play Idaho.”

Some of the skill positions on offense — particularly running back and wide receiver — were concerns throughout the offseason because of the inexperience at each of those positions. Fans now have some clarity as far as the depth chart is concerned now, however, because Ricky Slade is the team’s first-string running back while KJ Hamler, Jahan Dotson, and Justin Shorter earned starting nods at receiver.

Slade being announced as the starting running back honestly doesn’t mean all that much, as position coach Ja’Juan Seider made his intention to rotate heavily at the position throughout the course of each game very clear during the offseason. However, Franklin stated that his team won’t necessarily use a “by-committee” approach throughout the year

Additionally, the offensive line features some new faces in the starting lineup after the departures of Ryan Bates and Connor McGovern. Redshirt sophomore CJ Thorpe will start at right guard against Idaho on Saturday, and redshirt freshman Rasheed Walker earned the starting nod at left tackle. Returning players Michal Menet, Will Fries, and Steven Gonzalez round out the starting five up front for the Nittany Lions.

“[The offensive line] is building confidence,” Franklin said. “It’s that iron sharpens iron mentality — going against Yetur Gross-Matos, Shaka Toney, Shane Simmons, and Jayson Oweh — all those guys are really valuable [to the offensive line].”

As previously announced, redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford is the team’s first-string quarterback entering the start of the season. After the departure of Tommy Stevens, however, there is no longer a “Lion” position listed on the depth chart.

Franklin said that his decision to name Clifford the starting quarterback was very similar to naming Trace McSorley the starter ahead of Stevens three seasons ago.

“The experience factored in,” Franklin said of deciding to name Clifford his team’s starting quarterback ahead of Will Levis. “When it’s close like that, you’re always going to go with the older, more experienced player, and that’s really what Sean is. He’s done a great job.”

There weren’t too many surprises in terms of the starting lineup on defense. All of the usual suspects — including Yetur Gross-Matos, Micah Parsons, and Garrett Taylor — are listed as first-teamers, but sophomore Jesse Luketa will start ahead of Cam Brown, who is suspended for the first half due to a targeting foul he was called for in the Citrus Bowl.

Shaka Toney earned the other starting nod at defensive end ahead of players like Shane Simmons and Jayson Oweh, and veteran Antonio Shelton earned the second starting job at defensive tackle ahead of talented sophomore PJ Mustipher.

We do finally have an answer to the question of who would start alongside Taylor at safety. Lamont Wade will begin the year in the starting lineup but expect Jonathan Sutherland — Wade’s main competitor in that position battle — to see the field quite a bit this season.

“Lamont has paid his dues,” Franklin said of his new starting safety. “He’s overcome adversity. We’ve been very pleased with how he’s tackled throughout camp. I think him going up against KJ [Hamler] has been very valuable to both of those guys. He knows the defense inside and out.”

On special teams, Jake Pinegar will be the Nittany Lions’ field goal kicker after he put together a solid freshman season. Virginia Tech transfer Jordan Stout, however, will take over kickoff duties from sophomore Rafael Checa this season.

Beyond the starters, Franklin gave the media his “green light” list of true freshmen and first-year players poised to play significant roles this season. You can read the full list below:

  • Cornerback Keaton Ellis
  • Defensive end Adisa Isaac
  • Linebacker Brandon Smith
  • Offensive lineman Caedan Wallace
  • Safety Jaquan Brisker
  • Running back Noah Cain
  • Running back Devyn Ford
  • Wide receiver Weston Carr
  • Kicker Jordan Stout

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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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