The losses in the secondary continue to pile up this offseason for Penn State football. It’s going to be another offseason of changes for the Nittany Lions.
Throw out most of what anyone knows about Penn State football’s secondary. After losing all but one starter last year, the Nittany Lions lost two more starters and multiple reserves to graduation and to transfer this offseason. In total, they’ll add up and will affect this roster in the fall.
Amongst the obvious departures, two-year starting corner Amani Oruwariye exhausted his eligibility after a couple All-Big Ten seasons. Senior starting free safety Nick Scott also closed out his career with an All-Big Ten year. Those guys round out the normal departures, then come the transfers.
So far, 11 current Penn State football players are either in the transfer portal or have already announced their departure from Happy Valley according to Centredaily.com. In the secondary, safeties Isaiah Humphries, Ayron Monroe and Lamont Wade and cornerback Zech McPhearson are all looking to leave.
Starting corner John Reid and starting strong safety Garrett Taylor are back after some solid years. Donovan Johnson and Tariq Castro-Fields have plenty of experience and production at the corner spots, adding up to 44 total tackles and 10 passes defended. Jonathan Sutherland also put up a nice freshman campaign as a back-up safety with 38 tackles, one pass defended and one forced fumble.
Even with those guys back, the depth and production took major hits with all those losses. Combining all those aforementioned players, the Nittany Lions would lose 103 career tackles and eight career passes defended.
Where does Penn State go from all that? First off, the team will slide some of those previously-mentioned 2018 reserves into starting spots and then needs to rely on incoming recruits and relative unknowns. For the incoming guys, four-star safety Tyler Rudolph, four-star corners Keaton Ellis, Marquis Wilson and Joey Porter Jr. and three-star safety Jaquan Brisker, all according to 247Sports.
On the roster, there are barely any other players with experience. Corners Trent Gordon and Christopher Welde have appeared in four combined career games – that’s not a lot of experience, but it doesn’t mean the defensive backfield is guaranteed to struggle.
The safety spot does feature some returning special teams standouts in John Petrishen and Drew Hartlaub, who have 11 career tackles. It’s possible those guys could see time as well.
The situation in the secondary is a little bleak. But with the guys that have stuck with the program, this defense has plenty of playmakers to keep the unit on the right track.