Projecting the Penn State starting offensive line for the 2024 season

A mixture of new and old faces shape up Penn State’s offensive line this season, so which ones will earn starting spots, and which ones might have to wait their turn?
Penn State IOL Nick Dawkins
Penn State IOL Nick Dawkins / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

With one of, if not, the best starting running back duo in the country, and a highly-touted young quarterback, Penn State will need a strong offensive line this season. The Big Ten is built on toughness and grittiness so teams build their teams through the trenches. 

The offensive linemen are the unsung heroes of a football team, as they are always expected to play well. This has certainly been the case for Penn State in the James Franklin era, as the big boys up front have led the charge for multiple Penn State teams in the past decade.

There is certainly no shortage of options for Franklin and his staff at the offensive line position, and here are the projected starters on the forefront of the offense.

Drew Shelton. . Drew Shelton. LT. player. 491. Drew Shelton. Junior. 6'5 306 lbs.

It was a surprise to many when star tackle Olu Fashanu decided to return to Penn State after his stellar junior season, which left Shelton, a four-star recruit out of Downingtown, PA on the sidelines yet again for the second consecutive season. This will change, however, with Fashanu and Caeden Wallace leaving Penn State for the NFL, giving Shelton the clear lane to the vacant left tackle position. 

. Olaivavega Ioane. . 6'4 346 lbs. LG. Redshirt Sophomore. Olaivavega Ioane. player. Olaivavega Ioane. 491

Vega Ioane was outside the top 500 in the 2022 recruiting class, but his ranking did not stop him from breaking through in his redshirt freshman season. He appeared in thirteen games for Penn State last season, starting in five of those. Ioane made significant impacts in his appearances last season, as the media named him an All-Big Ten honorable mention. He slots in as the starting left guard for the Nittany Lions. 

C. player. 6'4 298 lbs. Nick Dawkins. . . Nick Dawkins. 491. Redshirt Senior. Nick Dawkins

Dawkins returns to the Nittany Lions for his redshirt senior season, projecting as the team’s starting center. He has experience playing both guard and center but was primarily used as a center last season. He spent his first three seasons at Penn State working his way up the depth chart, ultimately becoming a starter for the Nittany Lions in 2023. Dawkins also saw a lot of time on special teams last season. Dawkins should be comfortably secure as the team’s starting center in 2024.

6'3 335 lbs. RG. . Redshirt Senior+. Sal Wormley. Sal Wormley. . 491. Sal Wormley. player

Wormley is the most experienced player on this projected offensive line, starting 26 games for Penn State in the past two seasons. This is Wormley’s sixth year on campus, as he missed a season due to injury, and redshirted his first year. He has been named the coaching staff’s offensive player of the game three times during his time as the team’s starting right guard. Wormley is a shoo-in for Penn State’s starting right guard for next season.

Nolan Rucci. . RT. player. Nolan Rucci. Redshirt Junior. 491. . 6'8 317 lbs. Nolan Rucci

Rucci came from Wisconsin via the transfer portal and has a great chance to become the starting right tackle, even with little experience. Rucci has only appeared in six games in his collegiate career, starting in none of those. However, Rucci was ranked as a five-star recruit by 247sports, and was behind stiff competition at Wisconsin. This spot might be up for grabs with competition from redshirt freshman J’Ven Williams, and whoever gets the starting spot might be on a short leash as the season progresses. 

Honorable Mention:

True freshman Cooper Cousins will have a chance to carve a role in his first season. Cousins, a near top-50 recruit in the class of 2024, might see some playing time in the interior of the offensive line. Nittany Lion fans will be eager to see him in action, but they will likely have to wait until 2025 to see him as a starter.

Next. 3 teams Penn State football should play a home-and-home against. 3 teams Penn State football should play a home-and-home against. dark