The next player up in our series of profiles is a bit of a wildcard. Malik Golden played a large role on special teams while earning significant playing time on the defensive side of the ball towards the end of the season. With another off-season under his belt, Golden is expected to be a more polished player in the secondary.
The former wide receiver turned safety joins a crowded returning secondary and will have to earn his way into a bigger role. However, if the end of the 2013 season was any indication, Golden will be capable making a vast contribution to an improving defensive backfield. The Hartford, CT native contributed a modest eight tackles last season, but three of those came in the season-ending victory at Wisconsin.
Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, but maybe unfortunately for Golden, Penn State has no lack of returning defensive backs while many talented players will join the Lions in the 2014 recruiting class. With Adrian Amos, Ryan Keiser and more returning, Golden will have his work cut out for him to earn his way into the defensive backfield rotation.
The six- foot-one, 198-pound safety will certainly have the upper hand over the incoming freshmen due to his experience to start, but if he is unable to make an impact the Lions could look elsewhere for help in the secondary.
Another year’s experience in the secondary will prove to be beneficial to Golden and I expect him to be a leader on special teams while adding depth and hopefully some excitement to the secondary. I look for the rising junior to notch about 15-20 tackles and pick up an interception this season.