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A Look Back At Arnold Ebiketie’s Impactful Penn State Career

Despite playing only one year with Penn State football, defensive end Arnold Ebiketie won’t soon be forgotten by Nittany Lions fans.

As a transfer from Temple, Ebiketie announced back in December 2020 that he would take his talents to Penn State. He was a good player with the Owls, but little did we all know that Ebiketie, known as “AK” by his teammates and coaches, would blossom into a dominant force that would wreak havoc donning the blue and white.

With that said, it’s time to look back at Ebiketie’s short but dominant Penn State career.

With both Shaka Toney and Odafe Oweh departing for the NFL after the 2020 season, Penn State had massive shoes to fill at the defensive end position. It became clear rather quickly that Ebiketie was going to be one of the guys to fill the void.

It didn’t take long for Ebiketie to become a household name amongst Penn State fans. In the Nittany Lions’ week one win over No. 12 Wisconsin, he posted seven tackles and two for a loss, one of which was a sack of Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz.

Ebiketie’s performance, which also included an additional quarterback hurry, was one of the catalysts for Penn State’s dominant defensive effort that day in Madison.

The next week, in Ebiketie’s home debut, he posted a mild four tackles, but one of them was for a loss. Tackles for loss were a common theme of his 2021 campaign, as he totaled an impressive 18 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Next up for Ebiketie was his first and only White Out. Ebiketie’s impact wasn’t made on the stat sheet, but it was felt on the field and helped the Nittany Lions take down Auburn. He totaled five tackles but also three quarterback hurries, which led all defensive players in the game.

Penn State’s next game against Villanova would start quite the stretch for Ebiketie. He posted a sack in the game, which started a streak of four consecutive games with at least one sack. Not even considering sacks, that four-game stretch was arguably the best football Ebiketie played all season.

In the Nittany Lions’ week five game against Indiana, Ebiketie and Brandon Smith combined to block a field goal.

The following week, Ebiketie was an absolute menace in Penn State’s tough loss to No. 3 Iowa. He posted nine tackles, 3.5 for a loss, and a sack while trying to do everything in his power to muscle the Nittany Lions to victory. His 3.5 tackles for loss led all defenders thanks to a great day coming off of the edge.

Ebiketie followed up the dominant performance with more of the same the next week. While Penn State fans hate to bring up that heartbreaking loss to Illinois, it’s hard to ignore what Ebiketie did that day. He posted a season-high 10 tackles, as well as two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

Two weeks later, the defensive playmaker continued his prowess as an elite edge rusher. Ebiketie tormented Michigan’s offensive line all game long to the tune of seven tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble.

The forced fumble came with the score tied in the fourth quarter. While Penn State ended up losing the game, the play was the definition of clutch.

The next week was Penn State’s home finale, which ended up being Ebiketie’s final game at Beaver Stadium. It’s safe to say he went out with a bang, folks. He posted five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and had two quarterback hurries in the 28-0 win over Rutgers. Similar to what he did most of the season, he simply stuffed the stat sheet.

Since he went on to opt out of the Outback Bowl, Penn State’s regular-season finale against Michigan State was Ebiketie’s final game donning the blue and white. He posted four tackles on a snowy day in East Lansing to cap off a truly astonishing season.

With just one year spent in Happy Valley, Ebiketie solidified himself as one of the best transfers in program history. His dominance earned him first-team All-Big Ten honors and placed him at No. 3 in the Big Ten with 9.5 sacks.

After a star-studded year in a tough, gritty Big Ten conference, Ebiketie has seen his name fly up draft boards and is poised to be an early-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. 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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