It’s no secret that the transfer portal has revolutionized college football, and Penn State is no exception. The Nittany Lions gained a number of potential contributors this offseason. The flip side, though, is that several key players will be lacing them up elsewhere in 2021.
Here’s a roundup of where you’ll see former Nittany Lions suiting up this fall:
- WILL LEVIS, QUARTERBACK (KENTUCKY)
The trend of Penn State backup quarterbacks migrating to the SEC continues. Tommy Stevens left for Mississippi State after the 2018 season, and Levis opted to don a lighter shade of blue and compete for the starting job in Lexington after a short but memorable Nittany Lion career.
While Levis’ work on the ground stole most of the spotlight, there’s no doubt he can launch it. Under first-year offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Levis could elevate a Kentucky passing offense that has been among the worst in the country the last two seasons.
- ANTONIO SHELTON, DEFENSIVE TACKLE (FLORIDA)
A now sixth-year senior, Shelton entered the portal after a productive 2020 season. The move was a bit of a surprise, but Shelton took advantage of the extra-year-of-eligibility rule put in place due to the pandemic.
In Gainesville, Shelton will join fellow Nittany Lion transfer Justin Shorter.
- SHANE SIMMONS, DEFENSIVE END (MARSHALL)
Simmons ended his five-year Penn State career on a positive note in 2020, setting career highs in tackles and sacks and making his first two starts.
The Maryland native committed to the Nittany Lions in July 2014 -- just six months into James Franklin’s Penn State tenure. He initially decided to step away from football after the 2020 season to pursue a business career before having a change of heart. At Marshall, he will be reunited with former Nittany Lion running backs coach Charles Huff, who played a big role in recruiting Simmons to Penn State out of DeMatha Catholic.
- ZACK KUNTZ, TIGHT END (OLD DOMINION)
Pat Freiermuth left his mark on Penn State’s record books, but the Nittany Lions’ 2018 class included another four-star tight end. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for Kuntz in Happy Valley. Kuntz redshirted in 2018, caught just two passes in 2019, and ended up being the odd man out after the emergence of Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson in 2020.
The 6-foot-7 tight end gets a chance to resurrect his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, where he once again teams up with Ricky Rahne, Penn State’s offensive coordinator for Kuntz’s first two seasons. The Monarchs sat out the 2020 season due to the pandemic.
- LANCE DIXON, LINEBACKER (WEST VIRGINIA)
After transitioning from safety, the former four-star prospect appeared in all nine games in 2020, recording 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble.
- JUDGE CULPEPPER, DEFENSIVE TACKLE (TOLEDO)
Culpepper redshirted in 2018 before appearing in 22 games over the past two seasons. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Culpepper is the son of former Consensus All-American and NFL defensive tackle Brad Culpepper.
- MICHAEL JOHNSON JR., QUARTERBACK (FLORIDA ATLANTIC)
The four-star class of 2018 quarterback never threw a pass at Penn State and entered the portal before the 2020 season. After Johnson Jr.’s commitment, FAU hired his father, former NFL quarterbacks coach Michael Johnson Sr., as its offensive coordinator.
- JOHN DUNMORE, WIDE RECEIVER (OREGON STATE)
Dunmore, another former four-star, withdrew from the football team last October and only appeared in one game (2019 vs Purdue).
- TJ JONES, WIDE RECEIVER (UAB)
Jones appeared in eight games across two seasons but never recorded a reception. The Florida native joins a Blazers team that won the Conference USA title in 2020.
- MICAH BOWENS, QUARTERBACK (OKLAHOMA)
A Las Vegas native and product of Bishop Gorman, Bowens faces an uphill climb to playing time with the Sooners behind Heisman hopeful Spencer Rattler and 247Sports’ No. 1 ranked 2021 quarterback prospect, Caleb Williams.
- TRENT GORDON, DEFENSIVE BACK (ARKANSAS)
Gordon saw ample playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2019, but his opportunities diminished in 2020 after a move from cornerback to safety.
- DANIEL JOSEPH, DEFENSIVE END (NC STATE)
A sixth-year senior, Joseph left Penn State as a graduate transfer and made an immediate impact for the Wolfpack. He had a productive season in 2020, leading the team in sacks.