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Five-star Dani Dennis-Sutton provides injury update ahead of senior season

After sitting out all of 2020 due to McDonogh’s decision to not play sports last season, 2021 was supposed to be the year that Dani Dennis-Sutton showed the country that he’s one of the best college football prospects in his class.

That should still turn out to be the case, but his season hasn’t started the way that the five-star prospect was hoping it would. During a scrimmage with Good Counsel on Aug. 16, Dennis-Sutton suffered an injury early in his first game.

“Like 10 plays in, I’m playing on the defensive side,” Dennis-Sutton said. “I make contact with the offensive lineman, set him, and then I go to make a tackle on the running back. I put my right arm around his chest plate, my left arm on his back to try and swing him, and when I did that, our linebacker came down and made a tackle right on my arm.

“It basically got stuck, kind of crushed between the running back and linebacker. This is my first injury ever. It hasn’t been fun the past couple of weeks, but it’s not anything that should hold me back in the future. Just an accident.”

The Penn State Nittany Lion football program earned a commitment from five-star defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton on July 22.
Future Penn State defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton earned top performer honors at multiple camps this past summer.

He learned the following day that he had a dislocated elbow that would keep him out for the rest of preseason and into September. With McDonogh’s first regular-season game now set to take place this coming weekend against Gonzaga, he knows he won’t be on the field Friday night. The good news is that he shouldn’t miss much more than that.

“I know I won’t be playing against Gonzaga, but the week after that, we have Calvert Hall and I’ll probably be 90 percent cleared,” Dennis-Sutton said. “We have very good trainers here though, and I know they’re going to want to make sure I’m 100 percent cleared, so I would say probably the following week (Sept. 17) against St. Mary’s is when I’ll likely be back. Next week is a possibility though. That’s what I’m shooting for.”

With McDonogh being a boarding school and classes just now starting on Monday, Dennis-Sutton didn’t move into his dorm until this past weekend. Home is Millsboro, Del., which is about a two-hour drive from Owings Mills, Md., where McDonogh is located.

It would’ve been easy for him to go home and stay there while he recuperates, but being the leader that he is, Dennis-Sutton actually stayed in Baltimore the majority of the time so he could continue being with his teammates, while also working out.

“During preseason, I just stay with different families, different friends and teammates,” Dennis-Sutton said. He went on to add, “I’ve been to every practice, every scrimmage. I’m making sure I’m involved in everything. This isn’t going to stop me. I’m still working out. That’s a major part of my schedule, and that’ll never change. Obviously, I can’t bench press, but I can still run around some and do one-armed stuff.”

Dennis-Sutton announced his commitment to the Nittany Lions just over a month ago on July 22. He then returned to University Park for the Lasch Bash Barbecue about nine days later. That was his first opportunity to really spend time with the majority of Penn State’s committed players in the Class of 2022.

“The Lasch Bash was a really good day, really fun,” Dennis-Sutton said. “I got to see everything, from the campus to the players. I really liked seeing all my former teammates, Dvon [Ellies], Curtis [Jacobs] and PJ [Mustipher]. It was a really good experience, a really positive experience spending time with everyone.”

Even before that event, Dennis-Sutton had been getting to know Penn State’s committed players, and he said in the five weeks since that he’s stayed in communication with many of them.

“Yeah, I’ve been talking to them a good amount,” Dennis-Sutton said. “I hit them up and we have a group chat that we all talk in. But right now, all my focus is on my team. That's what I care about most, getting back and helping them.

The nation’s 11th-ranked prospect overall, Dennis-Sutton ultimately chose the Nittany Lions over Alabama and Georgia. He totaled 35 scholarship offers overall, and admitted that schools haven’t stopped attempting to recruit him.

“Schools have tried to stay in touch, but I’ve told everyone where I’m going and most of them respect that," he said. "If they don’t respect that, I just stop responding. I try to be respectful to the coaches that were good to me, and most of those coaches all know where my heart is. But yeah, some have tried to keep talking to me.”

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