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Jesse Luketa Drafted No. 256 Overall By Arizona Cardinals

Penn State football’s Canadian pipeline may finally show its prowess in the NFL following the recent selection of Jesse Luketa.

The Arizona Cardinals selected Luketa in the seventh round with the No. 256 overall pick Saturday evening. With the recent pick-up of Luketa, eight Nittany Lions have found new homes in the NFL through the 2022 draft cycle so far.

After coming to Happy Valley as a prized four-star recruit, Luketa carved out an instant role as a reserve linebacker within Brent Pry’s defensive scheme. As a true freshman in 2018, the Ottawa, Ontario native played in 12 games, despite producing limited numbers behind the likes of Micah Parsons and Jan Johnson manning the middle.

From there, Luketa’s output only increased with time. In his second campaign with the Nittany Lions, the physical staple appeared in 13 matchups, highlighted by making two starts, while picking up 24 total tackles in the process.

His progression continued into his junior tour, where he was named team captain for the COVID-19-hindered slate featuring nine Big Ten matchups. Despite anchoring an incohesive unit on defense, Luketa proved to be a bright spot by finishing second on the team in tackles with 59. Heading into the next offseason, however, Luketa worked to transform his craft into becoming a versatile pass rusher rather than simply using his skill set as a plug-and-play linebacker.

As one of the few two-time team captains in Penn State history, Luketa made his leadership presence felt by helping the Nittany Lions with depth concerns at defensive end. In 2022, he exploded for 61 tackles, including 8.5 hits for a loss in the backfield.

Most memorably, the defensive weapon made one of the most noteworthy plays during the Nittany Lions’ most recent campaign by taking a one-handed interception to the house for a touchdown in the squad’s week three matchup with Ball State in Beaver Stadium.

Now, Luketa will look to build on the framework set formerly by Tamba Hali, and now carried on by Shaka Toney, as other Penn State edge rushers who have carvedf out roles in NFL locker rooms.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a sophomore from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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