football Edit

Penn State football: Anatomy of a position group — The offensive line

Blue White Illustrated has begun a new series breaking down each Penn State Nittany Lions football position group and how it was constructed, also touching on its outlook ahead of the 2021 season and looking further forward. We continue the series with Penn State's offensive line.

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Tight Ends

Wide Receivers

2021 Penn State Offensive Line Outlook 

Current Roster OLs (Scholarship Only)
Player Experience  Stars 

Jimmy Christ

Redshirt Freshman

Rasheed Walker

Redshirt Junior

Anthony Whigan

Redshirt Senior

Ibrahim Traore

Redshirt Freshman

Landon Tengwall

Freshman

Nick Dawkins

Redshirt Freshman

Juice Scruggs

Redshirt Junior

Bryce Effner

Redshirt Junior

Mike Miranda

Redshirt Senior

Olu Fashanu

Redshirt Freshman

Des Holmes

Redshirt Senior

Saleem Wormley

Redshirt Sophomore

Golden Isreal-Achumba

Redshirt Freshman

Caedan Wallace

Redshirt Sophomore

Eric Wilson

Senior+

Penn State has signed 14 four-star offensive linemen over the course of the last six recruiting classes and it enters the 2021 season with nine of those offensive linemen still on its roster.

Still, the experience the Nittany Lions must replace in the trenches is significant.

Michal Menet played 2,463 snaps over the span of four seasons for Penn State, and Will Fries topped him — earning a place on the field for 3,045 snaps over four seasons.

Both of those fixtures along the offensive line are gone now, meaning James Franklin and company have two spots to fill.

The necessary talent to do so effectively is certainly available. For these Nittany Lions, it's a matter of making everything click under offensive line coach Phil Trautwein, who came into the fold ahead of last season and was thus unable to work with his players as often as he would have liked heading into 2020.

Franklin is optimistic about what that unit can do in 2021.

"I just think the O-line, we're in a really good place culturally," he said this summer. "Their buy-in, their work ethic, all those types of things. But I like what Phil's doing with our offensive line. And the other thing, just talking to our guys, I was down in the weight room the other day and Rasheed [Walker], he's just in such a good place. And talking to the strength staff, and talking to the players, the way he's working, the way he's leading, him and [Mike] Miranda are kind of the two guys that are leading that unit in a really positive, aggressive way right now.

Walker figures to be the centerpiece of Penn State's offensive line after electing to return to Penn State over the offseason.

Some analysts are already projecting him as a potential first-round pick in next spring's NFL Draft, and he's appeared on numerous preseason All-America lists as well.

The spot next to Walker is up for grabs as fall camp approaches, with last season's left guard Mike Miranda sliding one spot over to center. Asked this spring about his thoughts on Penn State's options at that left guard position, Walker expressed confidence.

"I've been having Anthony Whigan beside me, he's doing great," Walker said. "Des Holmes is doing great. A young guy, Saleem Wormley, is doing really great, he's going to be a really good player. I can't even tell you which one is the best one because everybody's doing so good. Everybody's developing and getting better every single day. I feel comfortable with whoever I have by my side."

The offensive line was also one of the places where the Nittany Lions saw some fluctuation via the transfer portal.

CJ Thorpe, who played significant minutes, but mostly in a reserve role for Penn State last season entered the portal in the winter and is no longer listed on the roster.

Harvard transfer Eric Wilson arrived in Happy Valley this summer, where he'll play out his final season of eligibility.

Wilson played mostly guard during his time with the Crimson, and with both of those positions needing to be filled, it will be interesting to see if he can take the step up and compete for one of the starting jobs.

Looking Ahead at Penn State's Offensive Line 

It can be difficult to project too far into the future at offensive line because the position group inherently balances several moving parts.

It should be encouraging to Penn State fans that the Nittany Lions continue to recruit this position well. Landing Landon Tengwall in last year's class was massive and could give Trautwein and company the anchor they need on the offensive front in the coming seasons.

From the 2019 class through to Penn State's verbal commitments in the 2022 class, there are eight four-star offensive linemen for Trautwein and the rest of his staff to work within the years to come. Plus, they've started off their 2023 recruiting class with another four-star prospect, Alex Birchmeier.

There could be some space for the Nittany Lions to make some additions via the transfer portal down the line as well should that prove necessary.

Penn State took only two offensive linemen in its 2021 class. Franklin and his staff currently have three offensive linemen committed in the 2022 class, and while they could look to add one more, that seems far from a certainty.

It's notable — although possibly not surprising given the nature of offensive line development — that Caedan Wallace is the only offensive line recruit since the 2019 class signed to carve out a starting role for himself to this point. Many of the highly-rated recruits that have signed since remain somewhat of a mystery.



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