An offseason injury leaves Penn State thin at linebacker, an unfamiliar spot for LBU

Redshirt sophomore Keon Wylie figured to play a key role in the middle of Penn State's defense in 2024, but after suffering a significant injury, the Nittany Lions are suddenly lacking depth.
Penn State v Maryland
Penn State v Maryland / G Fiume/GettyImages

When Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac left for the NFL, it made perfect sense for Penn State to move Abdul Carter from linebacker to edge-rusher for his junior season. Still, it left a bit of a void in the middle of the defense with Curtis Jacobs beginning his NFL career. Now, after an offseason injury to redshirt sophomore Keon Wyilie, Carter’s position change will test Linebacker U’s depth at its most iconic position. 

In 2023, Penn State had the No. 2 total defense in the country with Carter and Curtis Jacobs as the primary linebackers. For 2024, Kobe King and Dominic DeLuca are the top returners at the position. King played 393 snaps last season and DeLuca played 254. As a redshirt freshman, Wylie played 102 snaps and next season figured to be a part of a linebacker rotation that included King, DeLuca, Tyler Elsdon, and Tony Rojas, but that room is getting thinner and thinner. 

Wylie suffered an injury that will reported keep him sidelined for a “significant” amount of time. The nature of the injury has not been disclosed, but it was likely the reason that Wylie did not play in the Blue-White game. 

King and DeLuca, along with Elsdon a senior, will provide stability for new defensive coordinator Tom Allen, but young players will be tested at middle linebacker in the fall. Wylie was expected to be one of those, a 2022 three-star from Imhotep Institute in Philadelphia, but now even more responsibility falls to Rojas, a true sophomore from Fairfax Virginia. 

Rojas a 2023 four-star recruit, played 122 defensive snaps as a true freshman. The 6-foot-2 225-pound linebacker made 20 tackles with two missed and only allowed two receptions across his 49 coverage snaps. 

Beyond Rojas, redshirt freshmen Ta’Mere Robinson and Kaveion Keys may need to step up to cover snaps that were earmarked for Wylie. While 2024 could be difficult, the lack of depth at linebacker is not a long-term issue. Rojas, Robinson, and Keys were all four-star players in the 2023 high school class, and in the 2025 class, James Franklin has commitments from four-star recruits DJ McClary and Dayshaun Burnett. 

dark. Next. A coordinator change on defense could cost a 2025 recruit. A coordinator change on defense could cost a 2025 recruit