The best undrafted free agents in Penn State football history

Eight Nittany Lions were selected in this year's NFL draft, but others are fighting for roster spots as undrafted free agents. These are the best UDFAs to come out of Penn State and make a mark on the league.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) takes New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12)
Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) takes New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) / Allen Eyestone via Imagn Content
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Penn State had eight players drafted in the 2024 NFL Draft including two, Olu Fashanu and Chop Robinson in the first round. However, those eight likely won’t be the only Nittany Lions to make an impact in the NFL. 

Curtis Jacobs, Keaton Ellis, and Trey Potts all signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents and Johnny Dixon who suffered an injury at the Senior Bowl is yet to latch on, but could potentially find a home once he gets healthy. 

Dixon was likely to be drafted on Day 3 if he made it through the draft process entirely healthy, but even if he doesn’t make the NFL this year, that doesn’t mean his journey is over. Penn State has a history of success with undrafted players, even if they don’t crack a roster in their first season out of school. It took the No. 1 player on this list of the best UDFAs in Penn State history four years to begin his 11-year NFL career. 

Now with the existence of the UFL, players have even longer to hold onto their professional football dreams. Two former Nittany Lions are playing in the spring league this season.

1994 UDFA. 59. . player. 5. Tyoka Jackson, DT. Tyoka Jackson, DT. Jackson. NFL career: 1994-2006.

As a sophomore at Penn State, Jackson was the defensive MVP of the 1992 Fiesta Bowl and was named first-team All-Big Ten as a senior in 1993, so the league probably shouldn’t have let him slip through the cracks. 

In the NFL, Jackson was never a standout player, only starting 20 career games, but he played in 157 contests over 12 seasons and recorded 29.0 sacks and 196 total tackles. He began his career in Miami but played in Tampa Bay from 1996-2000. In 2001, he played for the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl but lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots.