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Predicting Which Penn State Football Players Will Stay Or Leave Happy Valley

As the 2022 regular season wrapped up with a 10-2 record for Penn State football, some players face looming decisions about their future. A couple of Nittany Lions have already made their intentions known ahead of the offseason.

Interior offensive lineman Hunter Nourzad was the first to announce his intent to return on November 8. Offensive tackle Olu Fashanu joined him when he announced his return Monday. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman quarterback Christian Veilleux has already decided to put his name in the transfer portal.

Most recently, cornerback Joey Porter Jr. was the first Nittany Lion to declare for the draft via an announcement on Twitter. He’s a projected first-round pick and was named a first-team All-Big Ten honoree earlier this week.

These next few months will be busy with players announcing their next football moves, so let’s take a look at what certain players are most likely to choose.

Parker Washington: Return

The talented Nittany Lion receiver had his 2022 campaign cut short due to an undisclosed injury. Washington could leave for the NFL if he wishes, however, the expectation is he will return for at least another year, especially after his recent injury.

He would be the top target for Drew Allar next season if he does decide to come back. If Washington does declare for the NFL Draft, Penn State would lack experience at the wide receiver position with the departure of graduate transfer Mitchell Tinsley, too.

Keyvone Lee: Transfer

The emergence of freshman standouts Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen leaves it hard to see Lee getting much playing time next year. Lee has been limited all year, and it would be no surprise if he does end up entering the transfer portal this offseason. He entered the 2022 season as the starting running back and has rushed for over 1,000 yards for the Nittany Lions in his career.

Juice Scruggs: Return

Center Juice Scruggs, the leader of the offensive line, has the option to return for one more year. This would be a massive win up front for the Nittany Lions, who are already returning Fashanu and Nourzard. Scruggs can also play guard if needed, providing a versatile option for James Franklin next season.

Nick Tarburton: NFL Draft

The redshirt senior will also most likely put his name into the draft this winter. Tarburton was named All-Big Ten honorable mention by the coaches earlier this week. The defensive end has been a staple for Penn State’s defense over the past few years.

Brenton Strange: Return

As the leader of the self-proclaimed “Aces,” Strange has the option to return as well. He is coming off a successful year as one of Sean Clifford’s top options, especially in the red zone. Throughout his four-year career in Happy Valley, Strange has found the end zone 11 times. Another year in college will boost Strange’s draft stock, and he has already established himself as a more-than-capable run blocker.

Curtis Jacobs: Return

Jacobs’ talent has never been in question as soon as he stepped on campus, and he is sure to garner some interest from NFL scouts this offseason. However, similar to Strange, the athletic linebacker could benefit from another year in college. Another year of Jacobs and Abdul Carter together at linebacker would be scary for opposing offenses to have to face.

Bryce Effner: NFL Draft

Effner, also a senior, probably played his last game for the Nittany Lions this season, playing mostly in a backup role throughout his career. Effner did get a few starts this season when Fashanu and Caedan Wallace went down with injuries. It’s unlikely he comes back with a deep offensive line already in place for James Franklin.

Malick Meiga: Transfer

Meiga was expected to be a significant contributor at the wide receiver position, but that never came to fruition this season. Meiga could enter the portal if he expects to have limited playing time again next year. This could lead to the Canadian exploring other programs outside of State College.

Smith Vilbert: Transfer

Smith Vilbert, who starred in the Outback Bowl last season, never saw the field in 2022 for undisclosed reasons. Vilbert did participate on the scout team during the week, although he was ruled out for the year early on in the 2022 campaign.

Devyn Ford: Transfer

Devyn Ford received high praise from James Franklin and others within the program early on this season for his role as a leader and for staying committed to the Penn State program. This left the announcement of Ford no longer being a part of the roster a surprise to many. Franklin said Ford left the team to focus on academics.

However, you have to wonder if Ford will return to football and enter his name into the transfer portal given he has eligibility remaining.

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a freshman from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism. His entire happiness revolves around PA sports. He will definitely be watching the World Cup every day for the next month. You can contact him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @CJGill14 and Instagram @cj_gill11.

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