The transfer portal had finally begun to slow, but chaos is evergreen in college football, and when Nick Saban revived the coaching carousel with his retirement, the portal roared back to life with it. Then, in the most high-stakes game of musical chairs, Kalen DeBoer landed in Tuscaloosa, Jedd Fisch went from Tucson to Seattle, and the portal was flooded with players from Alabama, Washington, and Arizona.
Players on those three teams have a 30-day transfer window that opened when their respective coach left but of the pool of available players from two College Football Playoff teams and a third that won 10 games, who could be a fit at Penn State?
James Franklin has stepped out of his comfort zone and gotten aggressive in the transfer portal, adding six transfers, including three former high school five-stars. Of the six, Julian Fleming, Nolan Rucci, A.J. Harris, and Jalen Kimber all figure to make a sizable impact on the field for the Nittany Lions next season, but there are still holes left on Penn State’s roster and these players in the transfer portal could fill them.
Potential transfer targets
Curtis Jacobs is declared for the 2024 NFL draft, but Penn State, as is custom, has plenty of linebackers on the roster. Between Abdul Carter, Kobe King, and Dominic DeLuca, Penn State should be fine in the second level of the defense, but Franklin and DC Tom Allen should consider adding another player to that room.
Abdul Carter played his best in 2023 as a pass-rusher, so adding a player like Blackshire could free up Carter for more pass-rush snaps.
Blackshire finished 2023 with 16 tackles and one forced fumble for Alabama, but he could be ready for a bigger role in Happy Valley.
The better option for Penn State at linebacker could be Barr, who is back in the portal after choosing Washington before DeBoer’s departure. Barr spent his first four seasons in college football at Vanderbilt and amassed 218 total tackles over that time.
In 2023, Barr played 507 snaps and registered 24 stops in the run game, but did allow 15 catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 18 targets in coverage.
Hunter Nourzad is moving on after his redshirt senior season at Penn State, so the Nittany Lions need a new fixture in the middle of the offensive line. Nick Dawkins played 130 snaps at center, so he may be the answer, but Franklin may prefer the man who anchored the best offensive line in college football in 2023.
Brailsford played 976 total snaps in his first year of action after not playing in 2022. In those 976 snaps, he allowed just 14 pressures and only one sack.
Yes, Franklin added Julian Fleming, but that doesn’t solve Penn State’s problem at wide receiver, but Bernard with Fleming could. Bernard was Washington’s fourth wide receiver but could have easily been Penn State’s best.
He averaged 1.90 yards per route run and totaled 419 yards on 34 catches with 249 of those yards coming after the catch. Penn State doesn’t have a single playmaker as dynamic as the 6-foot-1 sophomore.