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21 Penn State Football Players Receive New Jersey Numbers

The new football year feels fully in swing.

With winter workouts beginning early in February, the Nittany Lions are back to work.

Six returning players have new numbers listed on the team’s official roster, while 15 recent signees received their first jersey numbers in the historic blue and white threads.

Though some numbers are reappearing for the first time in years, others like No. 14 and No. 16 indicate a changing of the guard, replacing the graduated Sean Clifford and Ji’Ayir Brown, respectively.

Changes

Liam Clifford, Wide Receiver – No. 82 to No. 2

As his longtime veteran brother ages out of the program, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Liam Clifford is slowly becoming one of the team’s more tenured players. Clifford’s high-profile number change reflects that.

His switch from No. 82 to No. 2 means Clifford will share a jersey number with safety Keaton Ellis, who announced his return in January.

An offensive player has not worn the No. 2 jersey since Ta’Quan Roberson in 2021, while a wide receiver has not donned the deuce since 2015 when Jake Kiley did.

Omari Evans, Wide Receiver – No. 18 to No. 5

Sophomore wide receiver Omari Evans is holding up the recent lineage of Penn State pass catchers to wear the No. 5. His switch from No. 18 opened the jersey up for a recent 2023 signee as well. Evans will share his new number with sophomore defensive back Cam Miller.

In 2022, Mitchell Tinsley transferred to the program and donned the number. Before him, NFLers Jahan Dotson and DaeSean Hamilton wore the No. 5 for the Nittany Lions.

Jackson Pryts, Linebacker – No. 42 to No. 45

After previously sharing his number with recently transferred positional peer Jamari Buddin, redshirt freshman linebacker Jackson Pryts will shift to the No. 45 jersey. The No. 45 will remain in the linebacker room, as the jersey was occupied by redshirt senior Charlie Katshir in the 2022 season.

Jaylen Reed, Safety – No. 7 to No. 1

Junior safety Jaylen Reed is making only a slight cosmetic change, going from No. 7 to No. 1. Wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith will be joined by Reed, after making the switch himself last offseason.

Reed is the first Nittany Lion to wear No. 1 on defense since 2021. Chicago Bears defensive back Jaquan Brisker wore the number then.

Sam Siafa, Offensive Line – No. 76 to No. 88

Now, this one’s unique.

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Sam Siafa is taking an unconventional number for his position. Despite the Nittany Lions not possessing a new No. 76, Siafa will wear No. 88.

Penn State has not had an offensive lineman with a jersey number in the 80s since at least the 2000 season. Interestingly, tight end Jerry Cross already wears the No. 88 jersey, which complicates Siafa’s change.

Caedan Wallace, Offensive Line – No. 79 to 73

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Caedan Wallace is swapping from No. 79 to No. 73.

Last year, no Nittany Lion wore No. 73, though in 2021, former Penn State offensive lineman Mike Miranda was the last to do so.

Class Of 2023

Mega Barnwell, Tight End – No. 85

With his high school number – No. 15 – already claimed by Drew Allar, Mega Barnwell will begin his career as a Nittany Lion in the No. 85. Trey Wallace was the most recent Penn State player to don the No. 85 jersey. Wallace changed to No. 6 prior to the 2022 season.

Alex Birchmeier, Offensive Line – No. 63

Top offensive line signee Alex Birchmeier is listed alongside the No. 63 jersey. After wearing No. 53 in high school, Birchmeier was forced to pivot due to Nick Dawkins’ switch last offseason.

It’s been a couple of years since the No. 63 has made an appearance on Penn State’s roster. It was last worn in 2020 by offensive lineman Collin De Boef.

Anthony Donkoh, Offensive Line – No. 68

True freshman Anthony Donkoh will continue wearing his high school number with the Nittany Lions, as he is now listed as the team’s sole occupant of the No. 68. The last Penn Stater to wear No. 68 was Eric Wilson in the 2021 season.

Storm Duck, Cornerback – No. 29

Boasting the best name in program history, cornerback Storm Duck announced his transfer to Penn State shortly before the 2023 Rose Bowl.

Duck’s number marks a return to his roots, as the former Tar Heel wore the No. 29 for his first three seasons. Last season, Sebastian Costantini occupied the No. 29 for Penn State, however, he is no longer listed on the official team roster.

Alex Felkins, Kicker – No. 91

After transferring from Columbia in the offseason, senior kicker Alex Felkins will wear the No. 91 jersey.

Previously, the number was worn by highly acclaimed long snapper Chris Stoll, who aged out of the program in 2022. Felkins will now share his number with veteran defensive tackle Dvon Ellies.

Malik McClain, Wide Receiver – No. 11

Junior wide receiver Malik McClain announced his transfer from Florida State in January. Since then, he’s earned praise from head coach James Franklin and new receivers coach Marques Hagans.

The exciting new addition will share his jersey number with stud linebacker Abdul Carter. Last season, No. 11 was worn by quarterback Christian Veilleux, who has since transferred to Pitt.

Lamont Payne Jr, Defensive Back – No. 27

Freshman defensive back Lamont Payne Jr. will share his new No. 27 jersey with linebacker Bobby Walchak. He’ll be the Nittany Lions’ first defensive back to wear No. 27 since the 2021 season, when Ethan Susen and Walchak, who was a safety at the time, wore the number.

Ta’Mere Robinson, Linebacker – No. 24

True freshman Ta’Mere Robinson was signed to Penn State as one of the premier defensive members of the Class of 2023. Robinson is currently the only Nittany Lion to wear the No. 24.

Last season, former Penn State running back Keyvone Lee was the only player to wear No. 24. The most recent Nittany Lion defender to wear No. 24 was Jeffrey Davis Jr. in 2021.

Tony Rojas, Linebacker – No. 13

Another of the Nittany Lions’ highly touted linebacker signings, Tony Rojas joins Penn State wearing the same number as running back phenom Kaytron Allen. Interestingly, Penn State’s Cristian Driver is also listed as still wearing the No. 13.

During the 2022 season, it was announced that Driver would be converting to the wide receiver position from safety. With the No. 13 being worn by expected contributors on both sides of the ball, Driver will likely face a number change if he’s to see the field in 2023.

Joey Schlaffer, Tight End – No. 18

With the news that Omari Evans is relinquishing the No. 18, true freshman tight end Joey Schlaffer is free to assume the jersey. Schlaffer is the first Penn State tight end to wear No. 18 since Jonathan Holland, fittingly in the 2018 season.

Jaxon Smolik, Quarterback – No. 14

Things move fast in college football. All-time Penn State great Sean Clifford only exited the program in January, but Penn State has already found its new No. 14.

Some fans speculated presumed starting quarterback Drew Allar would switch to No. 14, his high school number, but he ultimately stuck with No. 15. As a result, Smolik slotted into the spot. This will be the first time in seven seasons that the number will not be worn by Clifford.

Riley Thompson, Punter – No. 95

Senior punter Riley Thompson transferred from FAU in January and has since been designated as the Nittany Lions’ next No. 95 jersey wearer. The No. 95 has not been worn since it was shared by kicker Vlad Hilling and defensive tackle Cole Brevard in the 2021 season.

Zion Tracy, Defensive Back – No. 12

True freshman defensive back Zion Tracy will keep the No. 12 jersey young, sharing with redshirt freshman receiver Anthony Ivey. The last defender to wear No. 12 was linebacker Brandon Smith in 2021.

Elliot Washington II, Defensive Back – No. 16

Serving as another example of Penn State’s changing of the guard, Elliot Washington II will assume the former number of defensive Rose Bowl MVP and 2022 team MVP Ji’Ayir Brown.

J’Ven Williams, Offensive Line – No. 70

Five-star offensive lineman J’Ven Williams is set to occupy the No. 70 jersey for Penn State. In 2022, No. 70 was worn by veteran center Juice Scruggs, who declared for the NFL Draft in December.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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