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Abdul Carter Progressing In New Defensive End Role For Penn State Football

It’s been more than three months since Abdul Carter played in front of a crowd.

The last time Penn State football fans saw their explosive linebacker was at the Peach Bowl in December 2023, when Carter finished up his sophomore campaign with three tackles and a pass breakup.

Fans will have an opportunity to see Carter again at Penn State’s Blue-White Game, though Carter won’t play in his normal linebacker position any longer. Penn State’s No. 11 will be lined up at defensive end after making an offseason switch.

The transition, James Franklin said, has gone smoothly.

“Abdul is very talented. The transition’s probably gone better and faster than I thought it would,” Franklin said Tuesday. “It’s a different world up there.”

At 6’3″ and 250 pounds, Carter was larger than the rest of Penn State’s linebacker corps. Carter, after coming to Penn State determined to play at linebacker, wanted to make the switch to defensive end after the 2023 season.

In February, Franklin said Carter’s decision would be a “win-win” for all parties involved. So far through the transition, those around the program have concurred.

“Abdul’s been looking really good. He’s adjusted really well,” fellow defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton said. “Obviously, he’s a big, physical guy, so he can handle being in trenches and then pass rushing. We already know what he can do.”

Carter and Dennis-Sutton are expected to be the team’s top two options at defensive end during the 2024 season. With a combined 520 pounds between them, Penn State’s edge rushers have a chance to continue the dominance that last year’s team set with the pass rush.

Dennis-Sutton was viewed as a starting-caliber player by those around Penn State last year, but he’ll earn increased reps this season with the departures of Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac. Carter’s rapid improvement on the defensive line serves as a good omen for the Nittany Lions, who are trying to replace two of college football’s best pass rushers without help from the transfer portal.

Dennis-Sutton said Carter hasn’t changed much during the transition, only his position has changed. The same linebacker who impressed the country in his first two seasons will still take the field for Penn State when the fall comes.

“Everything you’ve seen last year, or the past two years, or even freshman year: speed, power, explosiveness,” Dennis-Sutton said. “Just another guy in the room that pushes us to be better and he’s going to have a big year.”

Penn State still has several months until it has to fully debut Carter to the nation against West Virginia, but with his development thus far, Carter seems ready for a teaser showcase on Saturday.

“He’s been physical, he’s been explosive off of the edge,” Franklin said. “There are still some things he’s learning, but his transition has gone probably better and faster than anticipated.”

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He covers Penn State football, among other Penn State sports. He also listens to Mac Miller more than you. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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