Penn State will be losing its best offensive lineman to the NFL draft this spring. James Franklin was lucky to get Olu Fashanu for 2023, but now it’s time for the stud left tackle to go be a top 10 NFL draft pick. Right tackle Caedan Wallace was a redshirt senior, so he’ll be moving on too.
However, offensive tackle isn’t going to be the priority on my transfer portal wishlist. The Nittany Lions are fine at tackle. In the 2023 recruiting class, they brought in five-star tackle J’ven Williams and four-star tackle Alex Birchmeier as their two best recruits.
Sophomore Drew Shelton got 313 snaps on the offensive line this year, so he’ll likely be able to step into one of the starting spots if Williams and Birchmeier don’t grab them. Shelton was a 2022 four-star. The tackle spot will be young, but it’ll be talented.
The interior is where the Nittany Lions have issues. Despite having Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, one of the most talented running back duos in the country, Penn State was only 43rd in yards per rush at 4.5, and center Hunter Nourzad, along with guards Olaivavega Ioane, JB Nelson, and Sal Wormley allowed 52 total pressures on Drew Allar.
Nourzad and Wormley are graduating, so Franklin will need a new center and more interior depth. These are some players in the transfer portal that Penn State should go after.
Miner played 884 snaps at center for North Texas and only allowed six pressures all season. He is one of the top graded pass blockers by Pro Football Focus, No. 15 among interior linemen, and as a junior from West Hartford, Connecticut he could be interested in coming back closer to home to finish his career.
Miner spent three years at Arkansas State before his one season at North Texas.
In his two seasons at Middle Tennessee State, Rutledge started 17 games at right guard and was named a team captain as a sophomore. He may not be a fix for Penn State’s run-game efficiency, but he’ll keep Allar upright. This year, he only allowed eight total pressures and played 761 snaps.
The redshirt junior offensive lineman may want to stay closer to home in Texas, but he’d be an ideal fit for the Penn State offense. He started all 12 games at left guard this year and posted a run-block grade of 76.3 on PFF. Penn State’s highest-graded run-blocking interior offensive lineman was Nourzad at 74.1 and their highest-rated guard was Ioane at 65.4.
Mayers will be a people-mover on the interior to open lanes for Singleton and Allen, but he is also solid against interior pass-rushers. In UTEP’s two games against Power-5 opponents this season, Mayers didn’t allow a single pressure.