Coming off a very impressive first year under Manny Diaz, can Penn State Football have a top 5 defense in 2023?
247 Sports recently put out an article projecting the top 10 defenses heading into the 2023 college football season. The Nittany Lions made the list at #4, behind Georgia, Alabama, and Michigan.
The high expectations for Penn State football shouldn’t be a surprise. The Manny Diaz-led unit finished 2022 10th in scoring defense and 5th in yards per play. Although some key players declared for the NFL draft, the defense should be able to pick up right where they left off.
Leading the defense in 2023 will be a standout sophomore, LB Abdul Carter. Carter started the 2022 season behind Curtis Jacobs, but it quickly became obvious that Carter was too good to leave on the bench. Carter flashed his speed often during games and flew by opposing linemen and racked up 6.5 sacks. The linebacker proved he deserved the esteemed #11 jersey at Penn State his freshman season. With a full season under his belt, I fully expect Carter to become a national name in the college football world in 2023.
As I mentioned earlier, the Nittany Lions do have some key losses on the defensive side of the ball. No loss will be bigger than projected first-round pick Joey Porter Jr. But I believe Kalen King is more than capable of filling the CB1 role and possibly even surpassing the job Porter did. King has some insanely impressive PFF grades and was named the second-best returning corner in the entire country by the site.
With King and company hopefully locking down the quick passes, it should give time for the defensive line to feast. And what a defensive line it is. Franklin mentioned last year how important depth was and how happy he was with the depth. That should continue to be the case in 2023, especially on the defensive line. With Chop, Isaac, Beamon, Durant, DDS, and Ellies, Penn State has a plethora of young players waiting to have their breakout seasons.
Manny Diaz has proven to be one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. Going into this season he has a lot of weapons at his disposal, and I can’t wait to see how he uses them.