The Nittany Lions have seen somewhat of a renaissance at the safety position under coach Tim Banks. Guys like Troy Apke and Marcus Allen heard their names called in the NFL Draft in recent years, but this current position group could be his best.
Penn State used an experienced secondary to be one of the top pass defenses in the nation. The Nittany Lions finished the year ranked 15th with 181.5 passing yards allowed per game. Strong play from the safety position helped to lead the way in the secondary.
Garrett Taylor and Nick Scott served as the starters, and both put together strong seasons. Taylor finished third on the team with 71 total tackles, while Scott was right behind him with 65 tackles, including a sack. Both players led the team with three interceptions.
Jonathan Sutherland served in a backup role and made 39 total tackles, while also making one start. Lamont Wade was also a primary reserve and finished with 17 tackles.
No. 17 Garrett Taylor (Gr./Sr. 6'0 198 lbs)
No. 38 Lamont Wade (Jr./Jr. 5'9 199 lbs)
Taylor is a no-brainer to keep his starting role in 2019. After enjoying a breakout season last year, he's in line to be one of the leaders for the Nittany Lions on defense. Wade should be the one to slide into the starting position vacated by the departure of Nick Scott. The Pittsburgh native hasn't really lived up to his potential and expectations at Penn State but will get a big opportunity this season.
No. 26 Jonathan Sutherland (Jr./So. 5'11 201 lbs)
No. 7 Jaquan Brisker (Jr./Jr. 6'1 210 lbs)
Sutherland saw valuable playing time in 2018 and will serve as a reliable first option off the bench. He's had a strong offseason and will look to make even bigger strides this year. Jaquan Brisker was the top-ranked JuCo safety and has a strong skill set. He's been pushing Wade for that starting spot from the moment he arrived on campus. Between the first four players on the depth chart, Penn State will enjoy plenty of talent within the safety group.
No. 21 Tyler Rudolph (Fr./Fr. 6'0 204 lbs)
No. 48 C.J. Holmes (Jr./So. 6'0 216 lbs)
No. 37 Drew Hartlaub (Jr./So. 5'11 183 lbs)
For as much experience there is in the top four, the rest of the safeties clearly lack collegiate playing time. This group will miss John Petrishen, who was expected to play a key reserve role, but recently chose to leave the program.
Drew Hartlaub was a special teams player last year and by all accounts is one of the fastest players on the team. Notre Dame transfer CJ Holmes moves over to safety after spending last season at running back. It may take him some time learn his new position but he's a great guy to have for some added depth. Tyler Rudolph, a promising four-star freshman, rounds out the position group.