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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Penn State
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  As cornerback rooms go, few were better than Penn State's in 2002. The Nittany Lions' top four combined for 43 pass breakups, six interceptions, eight tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The play of the PSU corners was a major reason James Franklin's team finished second nationally among FBS teams in pass efficiency defense, eighth in red zone defense, 10th in scoring defense and 17th in total defense. But the Lions are replacing one of the top corners in the nation.

Fortunately, a standout third-year corner is back. Kalen King led Penn State with 18 pass breakups and intercepted three passes. He made significant strides during the final few games of his true freshman season of 2021. This year, the 5-foot-11, 189-pounder was a second-team All-Big Ten choice by the Associated Press and second-team All-America by the Walter Camp Foundation. - Tribune Review


Jr/2025 CB Kalen KingPenn State
News Source: Tribune Review
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  Dante Cephas announced Sunday that he's transferring from Kent State to Penn State. Cephas, one of the best players available in the transfer portal, could become the Nittany Lions' No. 1 wide receiver in 2023 after racking up 130 catches for 1,984 yards and 12 touchdowns the past seasons with the Golden Flashes. The former Penn Hills star is slated to finish classes at Kent State before enrolling at Penn State in the summer. Cephas will have two years of eligibility remaining. Cephas was near the top of James Franklin's portal wish list and with reason.

The Pittsburgh native has the ability to change Penn State's offensive trajectory in 2023, just as he did with Penn Hills four years ago. "They're getting the complete package in Dante," former Penn Hills coach Jon LeDonne said. "He's a big, long, athletic receiver. Very, very explosive. He's not afraid to go across the middle. He's a strong individual as well." LeDonne called Cephas "a happy guy who's always in a good mood." The coach never had any issues with him in their two seasons together, only fond memories. LeDonne, now the coach at Pine-Richland, remembers arriving at Penn Hills in June 2017. One of the first things he did was watch tape from the 2016 junior varsity team to see if he had any up-and-comers. Cephas jumped out right away. "Some of these one-handed catches he was making and going up for everything and running after the catch," LeDonne said, "we knew we had a special player." - Tribune Review


rSr/2024 WR Dante CephasPenn State
News Source: Tribune Review
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  Penn State has picked up a second transfer portal wide receiver for the 2023 season. Former Florida State WR Malik McClain announced his commitment to the Nittany Lions Wednesday. McClain spent his first two seasons at FSU before entering the portal this offseason. He was a four-star recruit in the 2021 recruiting class and held an offer from the Nittany Lions as a high school recruit. He went on to 396 yards and five touchdowns on 33 receptions for the Seminoles over the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound McClain joins former Kent State wide receiver Dante Cephas as the program's offseason transfer portal additions. The two new Nittany Lions could play a major role in the offense next season as Penn State reshapes the position following the departures of Parker Washington and Mitch Tinsley for the NFL and the firing of WRs coach Taylor Stubblefield. - Centre Times


Jr/2025 WR Malik McClainPenn State
News Source: Centre Times
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  Former Florida State wide receiver Malik McClain announced that he was transferring to Penn State to continue his college career. McClain only spent about a week in the portal before landing with the Nittany Lions. The Florida native developed into a member of the rotation at wide receiver after signing with the Seminoles in the 2021 class. He showed promise as a true freshman, playing in all 12 games and starting nine of them. However, McClain struggled to put it all together and wasn't guaranteed a major role this upcoming season with 11 other scholarship receivers still on the roster. - Tomahawknation.com

Jr/2025 WR Malik McClainPenn State
News Source: Tomahawknation.com
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  Heir apparent Drew Allar has a new target. Dante Cephas, one of the best wide receivers available in the transfer portal, announced on Sunday that he will continue his career at Penn State. Cephas, a Pittsburgh native and Penn Hills graduate, joins the Nittany Lions after securing 130 catches for 1,984 yards and 12 touchdowns the past two seasons at Kent State. An All-MAC honoree, Cephas has two years of eligibility remaining.

Cephas' announcement came less than an hour after Penn State confirmed that it relieved wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield of his duties. Cephas is a significant addition to a Nittany Lion offense that loses three of its top targets entering the 2023 season. Wide receiver Parker Washington and tight end Brenton Strange left early for the NFL while Mitchell Tinsley ran out of eligibility, prompting Penn State to aggressively pursue playmakers in the portal. Cephas was always near the top of Penn State's list of targets, if not at the top. The 6-foot-1 receiver announced that he was entering the portal on Dec. 4, and he had an offer from head coach James Franklin and area recruiter Terry Smith a day later. - Tribune Review


rSr/2024 WR Dante CephasPenn State
News Source: Tribune Review
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  Cephas is a significant addition to a Nittany Lion offense that loses three of its top targets entering the 2023 season. Wide receiver Parker Washington and tight end Brenton Strange left early for the NFL while Mitchell Tinsley ran out of eligibility, prompting Penn State to aggressively pursue playmakers in the portal. Cephas was always near the top of Penn State's list of targets, if not at the top. The 6-foot-1 receiver announced that he was entering the portal on Dec. 4, and he had an offer from head coach James Franklin and area recruiter Terry Smith a day later.

Cephas also fielded offers from Georgia, Notre Dame, Pitt, Oklahoma, Miami and more, making him one of the most sought-after players in the portal. Cephas was ranked No. 24 overall among portal players, according to on3. This level of attention is a nice change of pace for Cephas, who was lightly recruited coming out of Penn Hills. The former teammate of Penn State cornerback Daequan Hardy didn't receive any Power Five offers a few years ago, garnering interest from only Kent State, Bowling Green, Toledo, Eastern Kentucky and Howard. Now, Cephas immediately becomes the most prolific receiver in Penn State's room. The Nittany Lions also have KeAndre Lambert-Smith (389 yards, four TDs in 2022) and Harrison Wallace III (273 yards, one TD) at receiver as well as a crop of freshmen from the 2022 recruiting class. Tight end Theo Johnson is expected to return, too. - Tribune Review


rSr/2024 WR Dante CephasPenn State
News Source: Tribune Review
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  Heir apparent Drew Allar has a new target. Dante Cephas, one of the best wide receivers available in the transfer portal, announced on Sunday that he will continue his career at Penn State. Cephas, a Pittsburgh native and Penn Hills graduate, joins the Nittany Lions after securing 130 catches for 1,984 yards and 12 touchdowns the past two seasons at Kent State. An All-MAC honoree, Cephas has two years of eligibility remaining.

Cephas' announcement came less than an hour after Penn State confirmed that it relieved wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield of his duties. Cephas is a significant addition to a Nittany Lion offense that loses three of its top targets entering the 2023 season. Wide receiver Parker Washington and tight end Brenton Strange left early for the NFL while Mitchell Tinsley ran out of eligibility, prompting Penn State to aggressively pursue playmakers in the portal. - Penn Live


rSr/2024 WR Dante CephasPenn State
News Source: Penn Live
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  Penn State Kicker Jake Pinegar: "The last five years at Penn State have been nothing short of spectacular," he wrote. "Through the highs and the lows, I have learned so much and I wouldn't want my path to be shaped any other way. I would like to thank Coach (James) Franklin and every other coach and mentor at Penn State for their help shaping me into the person I am today. I would also like to thank my family and close friends for the unwavering support throughout my journey. "With that being said, I think it is time for the next chapter in my career. I have decided to chase a childhood dream of mine of playing in the NFL." The senior kicker went 75 percent (12-of-16) on kicks this season, going 5-for-6 from 20-29 yards out, 1-for-3 from 30-39 yards, 4-for-5 from 40-49 yards and went 2-for-2 on kicks from 50 yards. His longest kick of the season was for 50 yards, he went 57-for-59 on extra point attempts and scored 93 points for the Nittany Lions this season. - Centre Times

rSr/2023 K Jake PinegarPenn State
News Source: Centre Times
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  Penn State's safety room will return a veteran leader in 2023. Keaton Ellis announced his intention to return for a fifth season with the Nittany Lions on Instagram Friday evening. Ellis has played 43 games in his Penn State career and started opposite fellow safety Ji'Ayir Brown in 2022. The State College native will have one more season to suit up for his hometown school and will be a figure of leadership in the Nittany Lions' secondary. - The Daily Collegian

rSr/2024 FS Keaton EllisPenn State
News Source: The Daily Collegian
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  One of Penn State's best defenders will return for the 2023 season. Linebacker Curtis Jacobs announced Tuesday afternoon that he will be staying with the Nittany Lions next season rather than entering the 2023 NFL Draft. He made the announcement via Twitter. Jacobs took another step forward in his third year with the program, tallying 52 tackles, four sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

He was a playmaker at the second level of the Penn State defense, showing off his ability to make a difference with splash plays throughout the season. The third-year linebacker capped off his season with arguably his best game against the Utah Utes in the Rose Bowl. He finished the game with two sacks and helped put the Utes away on the Nittany Lions' way to a 35-21 victory. With Jacobs returning, the second level of the defense is solidified with him and fellow linebacker Abdul Carter being two of the best players on the defense. - Centre Times


rJr/2025 OLB Curtis JacobsPenn State
News Source: Centre Times
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  Sunday was a big news day for Penn State football. While Nittany Lions redshirt senior offensive lineman Bryce Effner announced that he will "step away" from football, Redshirt junior defensive end Adisa Isaac announced he'll return to the program for the 2023 season. Isaac played 13 games in 2022, making 28 total tackles (15 solo), 11 tackles for loss and four sacks. The redshirt junior earned All-Big Ten third team honors from the coaches and an honorable mention by the media. He's played in 27 games for Penn State, making 55 total tackles (24 solo), 15.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and caused a forced fumble. - Centre Times

rSr/2024 DE Adisa IsaacPenn State
News Source: Centre Times
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  KeAndre Lambert-Smith had the longest touchdown reception in Rose Bowl history on an 88-yard pass from Sean Clifford, freshman Nicholas Singleton broke a tiebreaking 87-yard touchdown run, and No. 9 Penn State rallied past No. 7 Utah 35-21 in the 109th edition of the Granddaddy of Them All on Monday. Clifford passed for 279 yards and two touchdowns in an impressive farewell to Penn State, and Singleton rushed for 120 yards and two more scores on a rainy day filled with spectacular big plays by the Nittany Lions (11-2). Utah couldn't rally with quarterback Cameron Rising sidelined by a second-half injury, and coach James Franklin's exuberant group comfortably won the Rose Bowl for the second time in school history and the first since Jan. 2, 1995. Singleton got the Nittany Lions rolling in a well-played game when he broke through Utah's defensive front and outran the secondary for his second touchdown early in the third quarter. The 87-yard romp was the third-longest TD run in Rose Bowl history and the second-longest in Penn State's bowl history.

Shortly after rain began to fall on the Rose Bowl Game for the first time since 1997, Lambert-Smith got open deep and eluded Utah's defensive backs on the first snap of the fourth quarter for the longest pass completion in Penn State's bowl history. Clifford's pass also broke the Rose Bowl record of 76 yards by Michigan's Rick Leach to Curt Stephenson in 1978 against Washington. Freshman Kaytron Allen added a 1-yard TD run with 10:36 to play, and Penn State's defense got stops on the Utes' first six drives of the second half. The victory was a fitting finale for Clifford, the sixth-year senior who finally added a memorable bowl performance to his slew of Penn State career passing records in his 51st game. Clifford also became the winningest quarterback in school history with his 32nd victory, passing Trace McSorley. Rising passed for 95 yards before apparently injuring his left knee in the third quarter, forcing the Utah quarterback out of his second straight Rose Bowl early due to injury. Bryson Barnes replaced Rising for the second straight year, but the two-time Pac-12 champion Utes (10-4) couldn't rally behind their backup. - Penn State/AP College Football


rSr/2023 QB Sean CliffordPenn State
News Source: Penn State/AP College Football
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  Some time after the Rose Bowl ends on Jan. 2, Curtis Jacobs will announce his decision - either he'll return to Penn State next season or he'll enter the 2023 NFL Draft. The decision is one worth pondering for the Penn State linebacker, who has come a long way this season. Jacobs was someone defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said he wanted to see more growth out of during spring practice, and now Diaz - who also coaches the team's linebackers - praised the linebacker for what he proved this season. "It's funny because now we forget, Curtis had never played in the box," Diaz said. "That's a different world. ... So the first question is, can you roll your sleeves up and get down and dirty inside the box. Now we know the answer (is) yes. ... His ability to play SAM and WILL so (Jacobs and Abdul Carter) could be on the field at the same time, that's no easy thing. That shows you what type of football IQ that Curt has."

Jacobs deferred some of the credit for his success this season to Diaz, who joined the staff after the 2021 season. He said the season has gone well for him, and pointed to some of the versatility his coordinator mentioned. He knows the system Diaz utilizes - and the type of mentality he wants his players to have - allowed him to evolve and make much more progress this year as a defender. "It's been amazing," Jacobs said. "It's been a lot more aggressive approach. I feel like I can be a lot more of an aggressive linebacker in this system. And I feel like it's really showed my talent." Part of the growth for Jacobs has been how he's developed off the field. The always jovial linebacker plays the game with joy - previously mentioning that he even laughs after making a big hit - and has now combined that with leadership ability off the field. - Centre Times


rJr/2025 OLB Curtis JacobsPenn State
News Source: Centre Times
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  Two weeks ago, Brenton Strange acknowledged he had a "life-changing decision" on his hands: come back to Penn State for the 2023 season or declare for the NFL draft. "I haven't really made any decisions yet," Strange said at Penn State's Rose Bowl media day at Beaver Stadium. "But I'd expect a decision to come soon." On Tuesday night, the Nittany Lions' standout tight end announced his decision. Strange, who will play in the Rose Bowl, declared for the 2023 NFL draft.

"I couldn't be more thankful to have called State College home for the last four years," Strange wrote in a statement. "Since my arrival in 2019, I have grown tremendously on and off the field. I'm truly blessed to be a part of the Penn State community." Strange is the fifth Penn State player to declare for the NFL draft since the end of the regular season, joining cornerback Joey Porter Jr., wide receiver Parker Washington, center Juice Scruggs and defensive end Nick Tarburton. Strange proved to be one of the most well-rounded tight ends in the Big Ten, recording 32 catches for 362 yards and five touchdowns this year. - Tribune Review


Jr/2023 TE *Brenton StrangePenn State
News Source: Tribune Review
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  Former North Carolina cornerback Storm Duck has announced his next stop. Duck will transfer to Penn State ahead of the 2023 season. The former class of 2019 3-star defensive back from Boiling Springs, South Carolina, had 46 tackles (36 solo), one tackle for loss, three interceptions, nine pass deflections and one forced fumble in 12 games with the Tar Heels this season. Duck entered the transfer portal on Dec. 8. At 6 feet, 205 pounds, Duck is set to be a key addition to the defensive backfield with the departures of junior cornerback Joey Porter Jr. - who entered the 2023 NFL Draft - and senior safety Ji'Ayir Brown - who is set to graduate. - Centre Times

rSr/2024 CB Storm DuckPenn State
News Source: Centre Times
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