The Nittany Lions haven't had elite defensive tackle play since the days of Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson and as everyone knows, championships are won in the trenches.
With Robert Windsor establishing himself as one of the Big Tens best interior defensive linemen and given the play of the defensive ends over the past few years, it feels like Penn State is one more talented defensive tackle away from having one of the very best defensive lines in the nation. Judge Culpepper could be one of those missing pieces.
Culpepper comes with quite the pedigree, being the son of former NFL-defensive tackle Brad Culpepper. A high school defensive end, he brings a blend of size and athleticism to the defensive tackle position that echoes the aforementioned Zettel. Combine that skill set with an entire year bulking up under Dwight Galt, and you can see why Culpepper could be on the cusp of stardom.
The Culpepper File
- Class: RS Freshman
- Size: 6'4/284
- Pos: DT
- Hometown: Tampa, FL
- Composite Rating: ★★★
- Composite Rank: No. 402 overall, No. 17 SDE
Culpepper committed during Lasch Bash weekend in 2017 over programs like Alabama and Notre Dame. He had been on the Nittany Lions' radar for a few months at the time, with the staff offering him in January of that year. He made his first trip to Happy Valley that April.
Culpepper enrolled last May, in time for the first summer session. This gave him an entire extra month with the staff and to adjust to the college game. Even with this added time, he was always heading for a redshirt. The staff always envisioned him as a defensive tackle so it was only natural he'd need a year to learn the position and bulk up.
With Robert Windsor back to anchor the interior and Antonio Shelton, PJ Mustipher, and Fred Hansard fighting for the other starting tackle spot, the staff is looking for at least one more guy to add some more depth to the position. Sean Spencer rotates his defensive tackles more than his defensive ends, so the opening is there for Culpepper to earn a good chunk playing time and make an impact.
Court is in session. All Rise.