Three Penn State football players who should be replaced on the depth chart for 2024

The Nittany Lions made a mess of their 2024 dress rehearsal in the Peach Bowl and the loss exposed some major holes on James Franklin's roster. These are the holes that still remain and the starters who should be replaced next year.

Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Jermaine Mathews Jr. (24) and Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith (1)
Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Jermaine Mathews Jr. (24) and Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith (1) / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA
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Drew Shelton. . Junior. Drew Shelton. OT. 491. . Drew Shelton. player. 6'5" 305 lbs

Drew Shelton hasn’t necessarily been a starter over the past two seasons since coming out of high school as a four-star tackle. However, he has been the primary swing tackle, playing over 300 snaps in each of the past two years. He’s well suited for that role, but we learned in the Peach Bowl that he’s far from ready to replace Olu Fashanu or Caedan Wallace, Penn State’s two tackles heading to the NFL. 

Fashanu opted out of the Peach Bowl, which meant Shelton played a season-high 72 snaps, all at left tackle. His previous high was 66 snaps at right tackle against Indiana. Against the Hoosiers, he allowed a season-high four pressures on quarterback Drew Allar, but he struggled even more against the Rebels. 

Shelton gave up seven pressures on 48 pass-blocking reps after having allowed just seven pressures across his previous 124 pass-blocking snaps. 

Yes, it’s a tough task to fill in on both the left and right tackle spots, but Shelton had a month to prepare to replace Fashanu on the left side and had the worst performance of his career. 

Shelton did have a few good reps in the run game, but that doesn’t make up for allowing his quarterback to be hit twice and hurried five times. 

Once Caedan Wallace was done at right tackle in the Peach Bowl, Anthony Donkoh replaced him and just gave up one pressure in 35 pass-blocking snaps. The four-star true freshman was not as highly touted as Shelton, J’Ven Williams, or Alex Birchmeier, but he impressed in his reps in 2023. He may be the starting right tackle next fall. 

James Franklin also made an addition in the portal, bringing Nolan Rucci, the former five-star high school tackle, back to the state of PA. Rucci was predominantly a backup at Wisconsin.