Projecting Penn State's Post-Spring Depth Chart

By Matthew Filipovits on May 13, 2019 at 9:20 am
Oct 20, 2018; Bloomington, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Pat Freiermuth (87) celebrates scoring a touchdown with Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) during the second quarter of the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
© Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Spring ball is officially over, students are out on summer break, and the post-spring transfer wave has mostly died down. As the dust settles, we're finally starting to get a good idea of what the 2019 Nittany Lions will look like. Let's take a peek at how the depth chart could look as the season enters its infancy.


Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
QB Sean Clifford Will Levis Taquon Roberson OR Michael Johnson Jr.
RB Ricky Slade Journey Brown OR Noah Cain Devyn Ford OR C.J. Holmes
WR-X Justin Shorter Daniel George Cam Sullivan-Brown OR Dan Chisnea
WR-H Jahan Dotson George Campbell Will Lutz
WR-Z KJ Hamler Mac Hippenhammer Weston Carr
TE/H Pat Freiermuth Nick Bowers Zack Kuntz or John Holland
LT Rasheed Walker Anthony Whigan Des Holmes
LG Steven Gonzalez Bryce Effner Caedan Wallace
C Michal Menet Juice Scruggs Hunter Kelly
RG Mike Miranda C.J. Thorpe Caedan Wallace
RT Will Fries Des Holmes Anthony Whigan
  • With Stevens gone, we're officially in the Sean Clifford era. Levis ran with the twos for all of spring, so it's safe to say one of the true freshmen won't supplant him.
  • Ricky Slade is in all likelihood the guy at running back, but Brown and Cain will get their fair share. I'd expect them to be co-backups in a sense, as each has a very different skillset.
  • Shorter, Dotson, and Hamler ran with the ones all of spring, so they'll hold on to their spots. Grad transfer George Campbell and Weston Carr didn't come here to not get a good amount of reps, so they'll certainly have spots in the rotation.
  • I'd expect a lot of two-tight end sets with Freiermuth and Bowers, but it's really not a competition for starter. Zack Kuntz could play into the equation heavily in the red zone.
  • I went with Miranda over Thorpe simply because Thorpe lost an entire of development last season. He's still going to rotate in a ton at both guard spots.


Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
DE Shaka Toney Shane Simmons Daniel Joseph
3-DT PJ Mustipher Fred Hansard Ellison Jordan OR Damion Barber
1-DT Robert Windsor Antonio Shelton Judge Culpepper OR Aeneas Hawkins
DE Yetur Gross-Matos Jayson Oweh Nick Tarburton
SLB Cam Brown Brandon Smith Charlie Katshir
MLB Jan Johnson Ellis Brooks Jesse Luketa
WLB Micah Parsons Jesse Luketa Lance Dixon
CB John Reid Trent Gordon DJ Brown
S Lamont Wade Jaquan Brisker Tyler Rudolph OR John Petrishen
S Garrett Taylor Johnathan Sutherland Drew Hartlaub
CB Tariq Castro-Fields Donovan Johnson Keaton Ellis
  • The Nittany Lions will rotate as many as seven guys into the defensive end rotation, so being a starter there doesn't exactly mean as much. Regardless, YGM is unquestioned and Shaka Toney has a slight edge on Shane Simmons after the latter missed part of spring ball with an injury.
  • D-tackle is in the same boat. If healthy, this could be one of the team's deepest positions.
  • Brent Pry likes his linebackers to know all positions, so these guys could all be plug-and-play material. Recruited as middle linebackers, Smith and Luketa will each get a good look at all three positions.
  • Donovan Johnson was very impressive as a redshirt freshman, making him the likely favorite to be the third corner. Keaton Ellis will almost certainly play, as both Reid and TCF could be gone after this year.
  • Lamont Wade should be the guy opposite of Taylor, as they begin to groom Sutherland to be the latter's replacement. 

Special Teams

Pos. First Team Second Team Third Team
K (FG) Jake Pinegar Vlad Hilling Justin Tobin
KOS Rafael Checa Jake Pinegar Vlad Hilling
P Blake Gillikin Cade Pollard Vlad Hilling
H Blake Gillikin Michael Shuster Jan Johnson
LS Chris Stoll Joe Calcagno Dan Vasey
KR KJ Hamler Journey Brown Keaton Ellis
PR KJ Hamler Journey Brown John Reid
  • The Nittany Lions are very lucky, bringing back just about every kicker from last season. Cade Pollard and Vlad Hilling should get a few opportunities, as Franklin has said wants specialists to feel comfortable before they take on a role full-time.
  • Hamler could pull double duty in the return game, as he's a threat to take it to the house every time. Journey Brown should also get some chances and show off his famous speed.
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