Penn State Football: Linebacker position in good hands for 2018


Penn State football is missing two starting linebackers from last year, but the position will be just fine at linebacker in 2018. 

Known famously as “Linebacker U” thanks to the great linebackers that played for Penn State football throughout history, the Nittany Lions face some questions at the position heading into the 2018 season. With important players missing from a year ago, there’s an opportunity for others to step up. Fortunately for Penn State, those players are capable of keeping the position in good shape.

Despite the glaring hole left in the middle by the departure of Jason Cabinda, there isn’t much need for worry. Top recruit Micah Parsons, formerly a defensive lineman, switched to middle linebacker when he joined the program this offseason as an early-enrollee freshman.

Parsons is a great athlete who played multiple positions on defense and offense in high school and already has a great build. He looked strong during offseason workouts and led the Blue squad with five solo tackles in the Blue-White Game.

There will likely be some freshman growing pains with Parsons, but he has the potential to be the next great Penn State middle linebacker.

The lone returning starter from last year’s group is outside linebacker Koa Farmer. The fifth-year senior will be looked to as a leader of the linebackers. He started all 13 games last year and finished with 48 total tackles. Farmer is a versatile athlete who came to Penn State as a defensive back.

His speed and coverage skills make him a valuable player at the linebacker position.

While Farmer and Parsons appear to be locks as starters, the second outside position is a bit more up in the air. With Many Bowen no longer with the program, the coaching staff has several options to look at.

Jake Cooper has been plagued by injuries throughout his time in Happy Valley, but has proven to be effective when he’s been on the field. He made 11 tackles last year in just seven games. Over his career he’s logged 40 tackles in 18 games.

Battling with Cooper, and perhaps having the upper-hand for for the starting outside spot will be Cam Brown. The junior has appeared in 24 games through his first two years with the Nittany Lions and was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman team in 2016.

Also in the mix will be returning players Jan Johnson, and Jarvis Miller. A slew of freshman, both redshirt and true, could also compete for playing time. Keep an eye on Nick Tarburton, Jesse Luketa, and Ellis Brooks.

Next: Penn State Football 2018 Player Preview: OL Ryan Buchholz

The coaching staff has some decisions to make related to the depth chart, but Penn State appears to have enough talent to be just fine at linebacker in 2018.