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Penn State’s Tight Ends Young & Talented Following Pat Freiermuth’s Injury

After Saturday’s loss to Iowa, James Franklin announced Pat Freiermuth will undergo season-ending surgery due to an injury suffered in the Ohio State game earlier this season.

Freiermuth’s absence will be devastating for the Nittany Lions, as the big tight end ranked second on the team with 23 receptions and 310 receiving yards. His injury leaves Tyler Bowen’s tight end room with a young but remarkably talented group.

Redshirt freshman Brenton Strange started Saturday’s game against Iowa and will presumably stay in that role moving forward. The West Virginia native totaled three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown in his first career start against the Hawkeyes. Strange barreled his way into the end zone on a 28-yard touchdown.

It was Strange’s second-career touchdown, the other coming last season on his first career reception. As he steps into the starting role, Strange will use some lessons from Freiermuth.

“I’ve never seen a guy work harder than Pat [Freiermuth],” Strange said after Saturday’s game. “I’ve learned that you can always work harder, study harder, stuff like that.”

Zack Kuntz could also take on an increased role the rest of the season. Kuntz has been medically unavailable the past few weeks, but Franklin said the redshirt sophomore is working his way back.

The 6’7″ tight end totaled just three receptions for 26 yards during the previous two seasons. However, he should get an opportunity to increase that total the rest of the season.

True freshman Theo Johnson came to Happy Valley as a four-star recruit this fall and was ranked as the No. 3 tight end in the 2020 class. Johnson caught his first two career passes against Iowa and could compete for more playing time moving forward.

Tyler Warren, like Johnson, is a true freshman and arrived at Penn State this fall. Warren hails from Mechanicsville, Virginia, and was rated as a three-star recruit and the No. 22 tight end in the 2020 class. The 6’6″, 244-pounder may be called upon for an increased role for the remainder of the season.

Strange was impressed with Johnson and Warren for their roles in the game against Iowa.

“Starting with Theo [Johnson] and Tyler [Warren], I definitely don’t think that’s something I could have done last year,” Strange said.

Other tight ends on the roster include redshirt junior Trevor Baker, redshirt sophomore Grayson Kline, and redshirt freshman Tommy Friberg. Friberg is a State College native and played quarterback at State College Area High School, setting the all-time passing yards record in the school’s history.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a junior majoring in journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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