football Edit

Nittany Lion personnel tracker: Nate Bruce exits Penn State program

We're keeping a running list of the decisions being made by Penn Staters for exits, as well as any incoming transfers, through the 2021 offseason.

Consider this your one-stop shop for all Nittany Lion personnel movement as the program progresses toward the start of the 2021 season.

Updated 2021 Scholarship Chart

Link: BWI's Projected 2021 Penn State Scholarship Roster

Penn State Personnel Tracker

OL Nate Bruce: No longer on roster

June 25: True freshman Nate Bruce, an early enrollee in January with Penn State's Class of 2021, is no longer with the program, BWI confirmed Friday. He is no longer listed on the official team roster and no reason was given for his exit.

At 6-foot-4, 351 pounds, Bruce immediately drew attention from Penn State's coaching staff through the program's winter workouts, comparing favorably with fellow early enrollee Landon Tengwall.

"I will tell you this, the one that's going to be really interesting to watch is Nate Bruce," Franklin said in February. "Nate we had in camp a year ago and I know this sounds strange, but standing next to Landon (Tengwall), he makes Landon look small. Nate showed up at 344 pounds with very little fat on him. He's massive everywhere.

"He tested extremely well with these guys when they showed up on campus. And we got him kind of partnered with Landon because Landon really knows how to work, and if Nate will figure that out, we think he has really high upside. He reminds me of the guards that we saw when I was in the SEC."

Bruce's departure thins Penn State's offensive line scholarships from a total of 16 down to 15 for the 2021 season.

CB AJ Lytton: Incoming Transfer

June 23: Former four-star transfer cornerback set to join Nittany Lions this summer

Penn State will officially welcome former Florida State cornerback A.J. Lytton to the program for the start of the second summer academic session on campus, BWI confirmed.

A Rivals four-star, ranked the No. 73 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 and 11th-ranked cornerback, Lytton played two seasons with the Seminoles before being removed from the team following the 2019 campaign for unspecified reasons. As a sophomore in 2019, Lytton notched one start in 12 games, finishing with 14 tackles and a forced fumble. The effort followed a debut season in 2018 in which he appeared in 10 games and also totaled 14 tackles for the year and also was credited with an interception.

Lytton will immediately be eligible and joins a crowded corners room with the Nittany Lions.

DE Shane Simmons: Transfer to Marshall

May 21: Originally announcing his intention to wrap his career of college football, Simmons would ultimately come to decide to give it another go for one more season, this time landing at Marshall with former Nittany Lion assistant coach Charles Huff.

Noting that he thought he'd been finished with playing football, Simmons announced in April that his "love and passion for football is still there," leading to the transfer decision.

CB Joseph Johnson: Outgoing Transfer

April 20: Penn State cornerback enters transfer portal

Arriving to Penn State as the 54th-ranked corner in the Class of 2020, a Rivals three-star, Johnson's career never really got started with the Nittany Lions. Charged twice for marijuana possession ahead of the 2020 season, Johnson never took a snap while with the program.

He announced his entrance into the NCAA transfer portal via Twitter, saying he enjoyed his time at Penn State. He has yet to announce a transfer destination.

TE Zack Kuntz: Transfer to Old Dominion

April 11: Kuntz lands with former Penn State OC Ricky Rahne at Old Dominion

A fourth-year player at Penn State, Kuntz arrived to the Nittany Lions with intrigue that never was realized by the 6-foot-7, 235-pound prospect out of the Class of 2018. In three seasons of action at Penn State, Kuntz appeared in 21 games, making three receptions for 26 yards..

Expected to compete with Brenton Strange ahead of the 2020 season to play Pat Freiermuth's second fiddle, Kuntz spent the year largely appearing on special teams. In total, Kuntz saw just 13 snaps as a tight end according to Pro Football Focus, down from 58 in 2019, and wasn't targeted for any receptions this past season.

Two months after his February decision to enter the NCAA transfer portal, Kuntz ultimately landed with former Penn State offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne at Old Dominion.

QB Will Levis: Headed to Kentucky

Feb. 5: Former Nittany Lion Will Levis is headed to the SEC, announcing Friday that he'll join Mark Stoops and his staff at Kentucky. This past season, the Wildcats featured a heavy run offense, rushing for over 2,000 team yards and passing for just 1,336 with senior quarterback Terry Wilson. Levis was also known more for his legs while at Penn State. Over the past two seasons, he passed for 644 yards while rushing for another 473. He threw three touchdown passes and two interceptions, while also rushing for six touchdowns.

With just three scholarship quarterbacks now, one of whom has only been on campus for a few weeks, James Franklin and his staff will surely be looking hard to add someone in the transfer portal in the months ahead. The Nittany Lions have scouted former Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey, but it's unclear if the staff plans to offer him a scholarship.

QB Will Levis: Into the Portal

Jan. 28: QB Will Levis made a surprise move Thursday evening, announcing that he intends to enter the transfer portal.

A member of the Class of 2018, Levis redshirted his first season on campus, but made significant contributions in 2019, including one start against Rutgers with Sean Clifford out injured. He also got the opportunity to start this past season against Iowa, completing 13 of 16 passes for 106 yards and 34 yards rushing.

However, even after Clifford's tough start to the season, Levis was eventually pulled, and Clifford finished the year as the team's starter. For his career, Levis passes for 644 yards while rushing for another 473. He threw three touchdown passes and and two interceptions, while also rushing for six touchdowns.

Earning more than 20 scholarship offers, Levis jumped onto the scene following his junior season, but it wasn’t until that following summer that he really blew up. In June 2017, he attended camps at Florida State, North Carolina and Iowa, earning offers from all three programs. Then, when Justin Fields backed out of his commitment to Penn State that same month, Levis earned an offer from the Nittany Lions after working out at their annual Whiteout camp. He committed to the staff the following morning before heading home.

Penn State now has just three scholarship quarterbacks. Clifford will be backed up by Taquan Roberson and true freshman Christian Veilleux.

LB Lance Dixon: Into the Portal

Jan. 28: Penn State’s linebacker corps took a hit Thursday with the announcement that Lance Dixon has entered the transfer portal.

A member of the Class of 2019, Dixon was a four-star prospect, although outside the Rivals250. He appeared sparingly that first season, playing just three games so he could still use his redshirt. However, this past season, he played in all nine games for the Nittany Lions, totaling 10 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss of yards. He also forced one fumble.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dixon played 75 snaps combined against Indiana and Ohio State, only to play 17 snaps total in the next two games. He struggled with consistency throughout the second half of the season, and he ultimately finished 2020 with a 54.4 overall defensive rating, the lowest of any linebacker who consistently contributed.

Coming out of West Bloomfield High School outside Detroit, Dixon totaled 217 tackles and 10 sacks combined in 2017 and 2018. An All-American Bowl participant, he was also named Michigan’s Defensive Player of the Year by USA Today, in addition to multiple all-state honors. He took visits to Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

OL Eric Wilson: Incoming Transfer

Jan. 27: Penn State has added its fifth incoming transfer in OL Eric Wilson.

"The connection I've built with Coach [Phil] Trautwein, Coach [James] Franklin, and the rest of the staff is something I'm extremely excited to continue in the next year," Wilson said. "All of their track records speak for themselves in terms of developing players to be ready for the next level. This past weekend, I drove around and saw a stadium fit for 110,00 people and a great campus. I have grown up a fan of Big Ten football and can't wait to be part of a program like Penn State."

Wilson ultimately chose the Nittany Lions over Auburn, Florida State and SMU. At one point, he was committed to play for Auburn, but ultimately decided not to sign after Gus Malzahn was fired. LSU was another school that he considered, but the Tigers weren't able to add him due to scholarship reasons.

Read more about the newest Nittany Lion below.

Link: Nittany Lions add Harvard offensive lineman Eric Wilson as grad transfer

WR TJ Jones: Into the Portal

Jan. 22: Penn State second-year receiver T.J. Jones has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal. Appearing sparingly on special teams and as an infrequent presence as a wide receiver this season, Jones was targeted just twice this season. He made no receptions in seven games of action.

Jones was surpassed on the depth chart this season by two freshmen, Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith. The Lions also just signed three more wide receivers last month in Liam Clifford, Lonnie White Jr. and Harrison Wallace.

QB Micah Bowens: Transfers to Oklahoma

Jan. 19: Former Penn State quarterback Micah Bowens confirmed Tuesday that he'll play for Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners in 2021. The Sooners lost Chandler Morris to the transfer portal earlier this month, leaving just Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams as scholarship quarterbacks. The Nittany Lions will have four scholarship quarterbacks in 2021, with Sean Clifford, Will Levis, Taquan Roberson and early enrollee Christian Veilleux.

UPDATE: 3:10 p.m. - Colleagues in Norman have confirmed he's also on scholarship.

QB Micah Bowens: Enters the Portal

Jan. 15: Former three-star recruit Micah Bowens has entered the transfer portal. A native of Las Vegas, Nev., Bowens was a member of the Class of 2020. A three-year letterman and a team captain his senior year, Bowens won two state championships during his time at Bishop Gorman. The Gaels went 35-7 over those three seasons, all while playing against some of the nation’s top high school programs. In 2019, Bowens totaled 2,148 yards passing and another 589 yards rushing, scoring 36 total touchdowns. He had an even better season in 2018, totaling 2,770 yards passing, 927 rushing, and scoring 44 TDs. Bowens took early visits to Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, Miami and Notre Dame as an underclassman. He then came east to visit Penn State and West Virginia in Feb. 2019. He wound up committing to Penn State three weeks later.

Saf. Lamont Wade: Headed to the NFL

Jan. 14: Safety Lamont Wade announced that he'll forgo another season at Penn State and instead prepare for the NFL.

Like many in 2020, Wade had an up and down season. 2019 was his best with the Nittany Lions, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors by Pro Football Focus, as well as honorable mention honors by the coaches and media. Wade, who contributed all four seasons on campus, totaled 153 tackles during his career, including 6.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. He also had 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and 1 interception.

OL Rasheed Walker: Set to Return in 2021

Jan. 12: Rasheed Walker posted on Twitter Tuesday evening that he'll forgo the opportunity to begin his professional career and will instead return to State College for one more season with the Nittany Lions.

This past season, Walker was tied with Michal Menet for the most snaps on the team, playing 726 of the 735 total offensive snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, his offensive grade of 70.6 was second-best for offensive linemen behind Will Fries (73.5).

Despite playing more snaps than in 2019, Walker allowed just two sacks compared to the five he allowed the year prior. He allowed 12 quarterback hurries in 2020, 11 in 2019.

A four-star prospect in the Class of 2018, Walker redshirted his first year on campus and has since started every game at the left tackle position. Due to the NCAA's decision to pause the eligibility clock this year, he still has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Saf. Drew Hartlaub: Into the Portal

Jan. 12: Walk-on safety Drew Hartlaub has entered the transfer portal. A Pennsylvania native from Hanover, Hartlaub redshirted his first year on campus and has been a consistent special teams contributor ever since. In 2018, he was named PSU's special teams player of the year for the scout team, and he followed that up with multiple weekly honors, including the coaching staff's special teams player of the week against Michigan after he recovered a fumble on punt coverage. For his career, Hartlaub finished with 11 tackles and two fumble recoveries. He's the third walk-on to enter the portal, joining punter Carson Landis and offensive lineman George French.

Saf. Jaquan Brisker: Returning in 2021

Jan. 11: Safety Jaquan Brisker announced Monday afternoon that he'll forgo the opportunity to begin his NFL career and instead return to Penn State for one more season with the Nittany Lions. A former junior college prospect from Lackawanna, Brisker would've normally been forced to leave after this season, but the NCAA's decision to not count the 2020 season allows him to return.

It's a major plus for Penn State, as Brisker was the team's second-best defensive player (Jayson Oweh was No. 1) last season according to Pro Football Focus. In fact, he was also rated the best safety in the Big Ten and the third-best safety nationally at the Power Five level. According to PFF's database, Brisker totaled 49 solo tackles and was only charged with one missed tackle all season. His tackling grade of 91.8 was ranked No. 1 overall at the Football Bowl Subdivision for his position, which includes more than 400 safeties. Because of that, PFF recognized him as an All-American. Click the link below to learn more about Brisker's decision.

Link: Safety Jaquan Brisker opts into another year with Nittany Lions

WR Jahan Dotson: Set to Return in 2021

Jan. 7: Penn State's offense received a major boost when wide receiver Jahan Dotson announced that he'll return for another season with the Nittany Lions. Dotson led PSU with 52 receptions for 884 yards and eight receiving touchdowns in 2020. He was also among the Big Ten's leaders at the position, finishing fourth in average yards per game (98.2), sixth in receptions per game (5.8) and fourth in average yards per catch (17.0). Pro Football Focus graded out Dotson as the sixth-best wide receiver in the Big Ten this past season. The 2020 NFL Draft is one of the deepest in recent memory at the wide receiver position. That's believed to have played a part in his decision. Click the link below to read more about Dotson's decision.

Link: Penn State WR Jahan Dotson announces his return to Nittany Lions for 2021

DT Judge Culpepper: Headed to Toledo

Jan. 7: Judge Culpepper announced Thursday afternoon that he'll finish out his collegiate career in the Mid-American Conference.

This past season, Culpepper appeared in all nine of Penn State's games but appeared sparingly on defense, compiling 66 snaps over the course of the season while making five tackles. He was ultimately surpassed by Hakeem Beamon for snaps (166) and would likely once again be the fourth defensive tackle next season following the addition of Derrick Tangelo. After going 6-6 in 2019, Toledo finished with a 4-2 in 2020. Jason Candle has been the head coach at Toledo for the past five seasons, totaling a 38-21 record.

OL CJ Thorpe: Into the Portal

Jan. 7: Penn State OL CJ Thorpe announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon that he'll transfer out of the program. His decision wasn't a complete surprise, as Thorpe began 2020 as a starter for the Nittany Lions, only to be replaced by Caedan Wallace midway through. He finished the season injured and didn't play in any of the final three games. Thorpe spent four years at Penn State, and will finish out the upcoming semester so he can leave as a graduate transfer. He still has two seasons of eligibility remaining and plans to play defensive tackle instead of offensive guard. Thorpe said, "With a year of experience in college at defense, as well as the playing style that is truly made for it, I believe this is the best move for me."

DT Antonio Shelton: Headed to Florida

Jan. 6: Former Penn State defensive tackle Antonio Shelton confirmed Wednesday that he'll finish out his collegiate career at Florida.

During his senior season at Penn State, Shelton totaled 14 tackles, including 4.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks. He also had two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. For his career, he totaled 51 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Shelton's PFF grade for the 2020 season was among the Nittany Lions' best on the defensive side of the ball, notching a 75.3 overall grade, with marks of 73.8 against the run and 71.0 as a pass rusher. That overall grade ranked fourth in the Big Ten out of the 51 defensive tackles that played at least 100 snaps this season.

CB Tariq Castro-Fields: Returning in 2021

Jan. 2: Senior cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields confirmed that he'll use his extra year of eligibility and return to Penn State for the 2021 season. A member of the 2017 recruiting class, Castro-Fields contributed right away for Penn State, playing in 12 games as a freshman. He played in nearly every game in 2018 and 2019, but this season was forced to missed time with an injury, playing the first three games and missing the final six. Because of that, he finished with just 12 tackles and one pass breakup. For his career, he's totaled 106 tackles and 10 tackles for loss. He has 22 pass defended, three interceptions and one forced fumble.

DE Arnold Ebiketie: Incoming transfer

Dec. 31: A second-team All-AAC selection, Arnold Ebiketie announced on New Year's Eve that he would enroll at Penn State in January. Despite playing in just six games, he racked up four sacks, hurried the quarterback 14 times and notched 22 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. That rated him as the fifth-best edge rusher in the conference. Click the link below to read out interview with Ebiketie.

Link: DE transfer Arnold Ebiketie discusses Penn State commitment

OL Will Fries: Outgoing Senior

Dec. 29: Penn State senior offensive lineman Will Fries won't use the NCAA's "free" season of eligibility in 2021, BWI has confirmed.

The fifth-year senior celebrated Senior Day with 11 other Nittany Lions on Dec. 12 at Beaver Stadium, none of whom have yet to announce an intent to return to Penn State for another season.

Fries finished his final season with the Nittany Lions as PFF's highest-graded starting offensive lineman on the team, grading out at 73.5 for the season with a 75.7 mark for his pass protection. The grades were Fries' best of his lengthy career at Penn State spanning 3,045 total snaps over four years of action.

Fries will train at TEST Football Academy in New Jersey.

DT Derrick Tangleo: Incoming Transfer

Dec. 29: Penn State added its third transfer Tuesday when former Duke defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo announced his decision to finish his collegiate career in State College. Over the past three seasons, Tangelo has totaled more than 100 tackles and five sacks for the Blue Devils. He's primarily considered a run stopper more than a pass rusher. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, his run stopping percentage of 11.3% was the best in the nation this past season when you only consider defensive linemen that played 200 snaps or more. PFF also rates him as one of them most consistent defensive tackles in the ACC the past three seasons. Tangelo is expected to replace Antonio Shelton. Click the link below to read our interview with Tangelo.

Link: Derrick Tangelo discusses his decision to transfer to Penn State

DE Shaka Toney: Headed to the NFL

Dec. 28: Although the move was expected, Penn State defensive end Shaka Toney announced Monday evening that he won't be using an extra year of eligibility, electing to instead enter his name into the 2021 NFL Draft. During the 2020 season, Toney led the Nittany Lions with five sacks. He also totaled 21 solo tackles, 10 assisted, including 7.5 tackles for loss. For his career, he finished with 115 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss and 20.5 sacks. Toney is expected to be an ideal linebacker in a 3-4 defense at the next level. He's projected to be a third or fourth round selection. Toney had already accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl.

CB Johnny Dixon: Incoming Transfer

Dec. 28: Former South Carolina cornerback Johnny Dixon announced that he'll finish his collegiate career at Penn State. A four-star prospect coming out of the Class of 2019, Dixon had an immediate impact for the Gamecocks, playing all 12 games last season. He then played in all 10 games for South Carolina this season, totaling 34 tackles and five pass breakups. He technically has four years of eligibility remaining since the 2020 season didn't count, although it's unlikely that he would redshirt at Penn State. According to Pro Football Focus, Dixon was targeted 42 times this season and allowed just 24 receptions.

Coming out of high school, Dixon was highly coveted by James Franklin and his staff. He ultimately took an official visit to Penn State for the game against Ohio State in 2018. His decision came down to Penn State, Miami and South Carolina.

DE Jayson Oweh: Declares for the NFL Draft

Dec. 26: Jayson Oweh made his decision official Saturday, announcing that he'll forgo further eligibility and instead declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. A projected late first-round or early second-round selection, Oweh has been considered a special talent for years now. Head coach James Franklin has led that charge, hyping up the defensive end for his freakish athleticism, including a 4.33-second 40-yard dash that's earned praise from scouts all across the country. Although he didn't record a single sack in 2020, Oweh was still Penn State's top overall player according to Pro Football Focus. In fact, he was the 11th-ranked defensive end out of 216 players this season, and fourth overall at his position in the Big Ten conference. Oweh finished the 2020 season with 38 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. He totaled 63 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 7 sacks during his three seasons with the Nittany Lions.

DT Antonio Shelton: Into the Portal

Dec. 23: Antonio Shelton, a fifth-year defensive tackle with the Nittany Lions this season, will seek an additional year in another program.

Reported Wednesday afternoon, the former three-star prospect entered the NCAA transfer portal following a senior season at Penn State in which he made 14 stops including 4.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks to go along with two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.

Shelton's PFF grade for the season was among the Nittany Lions' best on the defensive side of the ball, notching a 75.3 overall grade, with marks of 73.8 against the run and 71.0 as a pass rusher.

DT Judge Culpepper: Into the Portal

Dec. 23: Penn State defensive tackle Judge Culpepper, a redshirt sophomore this season, has entered the NCAA transfer portal.

This past season, Culpepper appeared in all nine of Penn State's games but appeared sparingly on defense, compiling 66 snaps over the course of the season while making two tackles. Entering the season, Culpepper was in competition with Hakeem Beamon for the Nittany Lions' fourth DT spot aside Fred Hansard, backing up P.J. Mustipher and Antonio Shelton, with Beamon ultimately finishing third among the DTs in snaps (166).

RB John Lovett: Incoming Transfer

Dec. 21: Penn State has added former Baylor running back John Lovett for the 2021 season. Although Lovett played sparingly in 2020, partly due to injury, he had a very productive career in the Big 12, totaling 1,803 yards rushing and 18 total touchdowns. Pro Football Focus gave him an 83.0 offensive grade in 2019, which was third-best in the Big 12 and 17th overall out of the 88 Power Five running backs with 50 carries or more last season.

A native of New Jersey, Lovett was offered by James Franklin and his staff coming out of high school. After visiting Penn State for a game in 2016, Penn State ultimately added Journey Brown. Lovett, who was committed to Rutgers at one point, ended up taking official visits to Iowa, Michigan State and Tennessee before committing to Baylor a few days before National Signing Day.

DE Shane Simmons: Moving on

Dec. 21: Although he could technically return for the 2021 season, Shane Simmons announced that he won't be coming back for a sixth season with the Nittany Lions. A former four-star recruit and Rivals250 prospect, Simmons suffered multiple injuries his first few years on campus. He then found himself behind a few current or future NFL players, including Yetur Gross-Matos, Jayson Oweh and Shaka Toney. However, with Oweh out, Simmons did start the past two weeks.

On Senior Day, he totaled 7 tackles and and 1.5 sacks against Michigan State. He didn't record a tackle last week, but was credited with three quarterback hurries. His departure, along with Oweh and Toney's expected departures, could put Penn State in a tough position at defensive end next season. Adisa Isaac, Nick Tarburton and Smith Vilbert are the only defensive ends expected back with any experience. Don't be surprised if the staff looks to add a transfer at this position in the days and weeks ahead.

TE Pat Freiermuth: Headed for the NFL Draft

Dec. 20:- It was no surprise Sunday to hear that Pat Freiermuth won't be coming back to the Nittany Lions in 2021. Expected to be an early pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, Freiermuth could've left Penn State last year but decided to return for his junior season instead. He caught 23 passes for 310 yards through the first four games, but was injured against Nebraska and ultimately was forced to have season-ending surgery on his shoulder.

Freiermuth finished his career with 92 receptions for 1,185 yards and 16 touchdowns. Despite his injury, he was still named Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year in the Big Ten.


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