Projected Penn State depth chart ahead of spring football practice

Even after a number of departures to the NFL, Penn State will be expected to compete for a spot in the 12-team College Football Playoff this season. So, James Franklin will need the spring to decide on replacements for his future NFL stars.
Penn State's two freshman quarterbacks, Drew Allar (left) and Beau Pribula
Penn State's two freshman quarterbacks, Drew Allar (left) and Beau Pribula / Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

Spring practice is about a week away in Happy Valley as the Nittany Lions will finally begin official preparations for the 2024 college football season. It’ll be a season unlike any other in the sport’s history with monumental realignment creating a Big Ten super conference, one James Franklin will be expected to find his way to the top of. 

Realignment, coupled with the introduction of the 12-team College Football Playoff, means a greater likelihood of suffering a loss or two in the regular season, but also more leeway for teams to slip up and still have a shot at the national championship. 

Penn State hasn’t won a national championship since 1986, but that’s the expectation, even an entire month before Drew Allar & co. will take the field at Beaver Stadium for the Blue-White game. And when they do, who will be at the top of the depth chart, taking the early edge at winning a starting job for the fall? Let’s dig into the depth chart projections for the 2024 Nittany Lions. 



  1. Drew Allar, Jr. No. 15
  2. Beau Pribula, R-So. No. 9
  3. Jaxon Smolik, R’Fr. No. 14


  1. Nicholas Singleton, Jr. No. 10
  2. Kayton Allen, Jr. No. 13
  3. Quinton Martin Jr. Fr .No. 25
  4. London Montgomery, R-Fr. No. 24


  1. Julian Fleming, Sr. No. 3
  2. Kaden Saunders, R-So. No. 7


  1. KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Sr. No. 1
  2. Liam Clifford, R-Jr. No. 2


  1. Tyler Warren, Sr. No. 44
  2. Luke Reynolds, Fr. No. 85
  3. Khalil Dinkins, R-Jr. No. 16


  1. Drew Shelton, Jr. No. 66
  2. Nolan Rucci, R-Jr. No. 72 (Transfer, Wisconsin)
  3. Alex Birchmeier, R-Fr. No. 63


  1. Olaivavega Ioane, R-So. No. 71
  2. JB Nelson, R-Sr. No. 56
  3. Cooper Cousins, Fr. No. 50


  1. Nick Dawkins, R-Sr. No. 53
  2. Dominic Rulli, R-So. No. 52


  1. Sal Wormley
  2. JB Nelson, R-Sr. No. 56
  3. Cooper Cousins, Fr. No. 50


  1. J’ven Williams, R-Fr. No. 70
  2. Anthony Donkoh, R-Fr. No. 68
  3. Chimdy Onoh, R-Fr. No. 55


  1. Harrison Wallace III, R-Jr. No. 6
  2. Omari Evans, Jr. No. 5

As much as the delusional Beau-hive wants Penn State to hold an offseason quarterback competition, Allar is firmly entrenched as the starter and Pribula will once again be resigned to gadget plays. Early enrolled freshman Ethan Grunkenmeyer will make a push for the No. 3 spot and might be the most talented quarterback on the roster. 

The Lawn Boyz are still locked in as co-starters at running back but Singleton needs a bounce-back year after averaging 4.4 yards per carry or Quinton Martin, the new freshman on the block, will vulture carries in the fall. At wide receiver, Fleming takes over as the new No. 1 and Franklin made the pecking order very clear in Atlanta at the Peach Bowl, Wallace is ahead of Lambert-Smith, as long as he can stay healthy. 

On the offensive line, many are projected that Wisconsin transfer, Nolan Rucci will replace Caedan Wallace as the starter at right tackle, but they fail to realize that the former No. 1 overall player out of Pennsylvania only played 42 snaps at Wisconsin in 2023 and only 70 in his career. 



  1. Abdul Carter, Jr. No. 11
  2. Zuriah Fisher, R-Sr. No. 36
  3. Jamiel Lyons, So. No. 19


  1. Zane Durant, Jr. No. 28
  2. Hakeem Beamon, R-Sr. No. 51
  3. Coziah Izzard, Sr. No. 99


  1. Dvon Ellies, R-Sr. No. 91
  2. Hakeem Beamon, R-Sr. No. 51
  3. Kaleb Artis, R-So. No. 58


  1. Dani Dennis-Sutton, Jr. No. 33
  2. Amin Vanover, Sr. No. 15
  3. Zuriah Fisher, R-Sr. No. 36


  1. Tony Rojas, So. No. 13
  2. Ta’Mere Robinson, R-Fr. No. 24


  1. Kobe King, R-Jr. No. 41
  2. Tyler Elsdon, Sr. No. 43


  1. Dominic DeLuca, R-Jr. No. 0
  2. Keon Wylie, R-So. No. 32


  1. A.J. Harris, So. No. 4 (Transfer, Georgia)
  2. Zion Tracy, So. No. 12


  1. Zakee Wheatley, R-Jr. No. 6
  2. King Mack, So. No. 9


  1. Kevin Winston Jr. Jr No. 21
  2. Dakaari Nelson, R-Fr. No. 8


  1. Jaylen Reed, Sr. No. 1
  2. Mehki Flowers, R-So. No. 10


  1. Jalen Kimber, R-Sr. No. 3 (Transfer, Florida)
  2. Cam Miller, Jr. No. 5

Abdul Carter moving to edge shakes up the defense in a big way. First, by opening up opportunities for young players like Tony Rojas and Ta’Mere Robinson to fight for starting snaps at off-ball linebacker, and by keeping Zuriah Fisher and Amin Vanover as rotational pass-rushers instead of full-time starters. 

The other big change on the defensive side is the addition of A.J. Harris and Jalen Kimber. Both should slot into starting roles at the outside corner spots, but that still leaves a void in the slot. Daequan Hardy was the full-time nickel cornerback last season, but Zakee Wheatley, Keaton Ellis, and even Dominic DeLuca took plenty of snaps there in both nickel and dime looks. Will Cam Miller, who is CB3, just move inside after taking just 12 snaps there last year, or will new defensive coordinator Tom Allen rely on safeties like Wheatley and King Mack for their positional versatility and tackling?

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