Top-Five Penn State Defensive Tackles of the 2010s

By Matthew Filipovits on January 14, 2020 at 8:00 am
Anthony Zettel was voted the Roar Lions Roar defensive tackle of the decade, followed by Devon Still, Austin Johnson, Jordan Hill, and Robert Windsor.
Roar Lions Roar

With the 2010s in the rearview mirror, we're ranking the top-five players at each position of the decade, as voted on by the Roar Lions Roar staff. All of this will lead up to the RLR Team of the Decade. We will only be taking into account seasons from 2010-2019, so players like Evan Royster and Devon Still have solely been judged on their seasons during that time frame.

We round out the defensive line with our picks for the top-five defensive tackles of the decade.

Honorable mention - Kevin Givens

  • 2015-2018
  • Career Statistics: 82 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks

A Central Pennsylvania native and a Signing Day flip from Pitt, Givens started over 30 games during his time in Happy Valley. He was one of the faster interior linemen the Nittany Lions have had in some time, often able to blow up inside runs and force them to the outside thanks to said speed. Also a skilled pass rusher, he would often bounce outside to defensive end on obvious passing downs, more than holding his own against bigger offensive tackles. He was a truly versatile weapon in the trenches. He was promoted to the active roster by the San Francisco 49ers from the practice squad just before the playoffs began.

No. 5 - Robert Windsor

  • 2015-2019
  • Career Statistics: 121 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 14 sacks

Windsor anchored the Penn State defensive line for two seasons, emerging as one of the conference's better defensive lineman as a junior and senior. At his best, he seemed unstoppable, muscling through offensive lineman and poor running backs who had to attempt to pick him up in pass protection. He should hear his name called in this spring's NFL Draft.

N0. 4 - Jordan Hill

  • 2009-2012 (Only 2010-2012 seasons count)
  • 2010-2012 Statistics: 149 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 1 interception

A member of the legendary 2012 senior class, Jordan Hill had a remarkably underrated Nittany Lion career. A first-team All-Big Ten selection his senior season, Hill may not have gotten to the quarterback all the often, but he dominated the line of scrimmage, stopping many plays for little or no gain. He was selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, spending five seasons in the league.

No. 3 - Austin Johnson

  • 2012-2015
  • Career Statistics: 154 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks

One of the first defensive tackles to be coached by Sean Spencer, Johnson went from a solid contributor in 2014 to a dominant force during the 2015 season. A terrific athlete, Johnson ate up space for the nation's No. 3 three rush defense as a redshirt junior. Although getting to the quarterback wasn't his forte, he was consistently able to throw quarterbacks off their rhythm by eating up space in the middle of the line, batting down passes, and clearing the way for other defenders. He was also one of the best at recognizing and blowing up screen passes. He is currently backing up fellow Nittany Lion DaQuan Jones with the Tennessee Titans.

N0. 2 - Devon Still

  • 2008-2011 (Only 2010-2011 seasons count)
  • 2010-2011 Statistics: 94 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks

Devon Still's 2011 season has a case to be the best individual season we've ever seen from a Penn State defender. More than half of his career tackles for loss came in his senior campaign, showcasing a level of dominance rarely seen. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for his efforts and was unanimously selected as an All-American selection. Still was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the NFL Draft.

No. 1 - Anthony Zettel

  • 2011-2015
  • Career Statistics*: 119 tackles, 38 tackles for loss, 20 sacks, 4 interceptions, 1 touchdown

A fantastic athlete, Anthony Zettel brought an edge rushers mentality to the defensive tackle position after he was moved inside ahead of his junior season. He was faster than anyone who attempted to block him and stronger than any running back trying to run through him. He batted down more than his fair share of passes and his athleticism allowed Bob Shoop to drop him back in coverage to confuse quarterbacks en route to four career interceptions, including a pick-six. He also tackled a tree, which may not show up in the stat sheet but it should always be mentioned.

* - Zettel switched to defensive tackle ahead of the 2014 season, he registered 31 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks as a defensive end

Be sure to check out the rest of the series:

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