The Nittany Lions just got a bit thinner at the weakest position on the roster. Last offseason, Kent State transfer Dante Cephas was the big transfer portal addition expected to help Drew Allar in his first season as the starting quarterback, but after an underwhelming year and a Peach Bowl benching, Cephas is back in the portal.
Cephas, the 6-foot wide receiver from Pittsburgh posted a career-high 82 catches for 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021 at Kent State and after a statistical step back in 2022, transferred to Penn State with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
It was a bit of a surprise when Parker Washinton left for the NFL after 2022, so James Franklin was scrambling for a WR2 behind KeAndre Lambert-Smith and settled on Cephas, but it just never clicked.
In 10 games he hauled in 22 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Even after three grabs for 36 yards in the regular season finale against Michigan State, Cephas was benched in the Peach Bowl. He dressed but didn’t play a single snap and was the first player off the sideline after the game.
In the postgame press conference, Franklin was asked if Cephas was available and why he didn’t play. The head coach responded, “Everything's an open competition every week, and the depth chart reflects that. Then obviously when you're in a bowl situation and you've got three weeks, there's a lot of movement that can occur in three weeks.”
Harrison Wallace III returning from injury to play against Ole Miss for the first time since October 28 didn’t help Cephas’s prospects, but he was also beaten out by Omari Evans and Liam Clifford for snaps.
Penn State is desperate to add wide receivers this offseason. The position was a glaring weakness against the SEC opponent. Allar didn’t complete a pass to a wide receiver until the fourth quarter when Clifford brought in a short pass.
Opening up a roster spot at receiver is good news for the Nittany Lions and after Cephas was benched, this departure was expected. Now, it’s time for Franklin to make a big addition in the portal.