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Demeioun Robinson Poised To Make Immediate Impact For Penn State Football

Help is on the way for James Franklin and Penn State football.

With the addition of pass rusher Demeioun Robinson last week, the Nittany Lions added some much-needed depth, raw skill, and experience on the defensive side of the ball.

Robinson, a former Maryland Terrapin, will join Manny Diaz’s defensive unit with three years of eligibility remaining. He’s the latest addition Franklin has made through what has been a judicious and tasteful usage of the NCAA transfer portal, and he’ll likely immediately make an impact in Happy Valley.

It’s easy to compare Robinson to Arnold Ebiketie, an edge rusher who came in from Temple last season before becoming a nightmare for Big Ten quarterbacks. Robinson, who was listed by Maryland at 6’4″ and 250 pounds, has a comparable build to Ebiketie and could play a similar role.

But, Robinson’s immediate value to Penn State might not come in the form of a pure edge rusher. He appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman at Maryland but was actually listed as a linebacker, totaling 19 tackles and two sacks.

As his four-star 247Sports recruiting profile suggests, Robinson could bulk up to around 250 pounds and play linebacker or possibly trim down to the 230-pound range to rush the quarterback as a defensive end if a scheme required it.

Manny Diaz never had problems putting larger defensive athletes up at defensive end at Miami — just look at Jahfari Harvey and Chantz Williams. Additionally, Penn State rolled with 256-pound Ebiketie and 260-pound Nick Tarburton there in 2021. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Nittany Lions brought Robinson back to the line after he primarily played linebacker in College Park.

The Maryland native’s versatility and athleticism could also land him in a hybrid role similar to the 6’3″, 247-pound Jesse Luketa, who played as both a linebacker and edge rusher during the 2021 season. Robinson also draws lofty comparisons to the 6’3″, 245-pound Micah Parsons, who started at linebacker for Penn State but often showed pressure up on the line. Parsons now plays an edge role for the Dallas Cowboys.

But where could Penn State use the Maryland native the most? Franklin noted in particular the Nittany Lions were looking for pass-rushing help through the portal, but his defense is possibly thinner at the linebacker position.

Curtis Jacobs is really the only sure-fire returner in the linebacker corps, starting all but one game last year and logging 52 tackles. He’ll likely be flanked by a combination of converted safety Jonathan Sutherland, who’s just 5’11” and 210 pounds, and veteran Charlie Katshir. The last linebacker position is perhaps a toss-up between Tyler Elsdon and redshirt freshman Kobe King.

Robinson could win the outside linebacker job over Katshir and Sutherland or reinforce a defensive line that’s quickly thinning after Penn State reportedly lost Zuriah Fisher for the year. Tarburton returns after starting eight games as a redshirt junior, but he only made 22 tackles and didn’t manage a sack.

However, Penn State has plenty of young talent in the room to complement Robinson with Smith Vilbert, who burst onto the scene with three Outback Bowl sacks, and Adisa Isaac, an impressive athlete who would’ve started in 2021 if not for a season-ending injury. Don’t forget about five-star recruit Dani Dennis-Sutton, who will join the team over the summer.

Robinson would easily work his way into this defensive line rotation after getting a year of Big Ten battle testing under his belt as a true freshman at Maryland. Whether or not this is the best fit for him is still to be determined.

While Franklin couldn’t land Robinson as a highly touted recruit out of high school, Penn State is lucky to have another versatile defensive athlete in its repertoire now — no matter where he ends up fitting in.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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