football Edit

What will the Penn State football depth chart look like for Indiana?

The first month of the college football season is in the rearview mirror, and because of that fact, we have many more Penn State football depth chart answers now than we did at this time in August.

Head coach James Franklin is not releasing a Nittany Lions depth chart this season, but a 4-0 start has helped us put one together based on how the snap counts have played out over one road contest and three matchups at home.

Here's our starter and backup rundown ahead of a 7:30 p.m. Big Ten East showdown with Indiana at Beaver Stadium.

The Beaver Stadium bleachers will be full again this weekend as the Penn State Nittany Lions take on Indiana in primetime. AP photo
The Beaver Stadium bleachers will be full again this weekend as the Penn State Nittany Lions take on Indiana in primetime. AP photo

Quarterback

Starter: No. 14 Sean Clifford

Backup: No. 2 Ta’Quan Roberson

The Lowdown: Since we have to write something for every section in this space, the message this week is that September allowed Roberson to see his most extensive game action yet, but the gap between him and Clifford is still as wide as it was before the season started.

Running Back

Starter: No. 21 Noah Cain

Backup: No. 10 John Lovett

Third-string: No. 24 Keyvone Lee

The Lowdown: Last week, it was not a certainty that Lovett had passed Lee as the backup to Cain. It feels that it is now, however, as with Cain banged up a bit and mostly rested against Villanova, the Baylor transfer out-snapped his younger teammate 33-18 against the Wildcats. There is a pretty clear divide, then, between those three guys and then Devyn Ford and Caziah Holmes.

Wide Receiver 

Wide Receiver

Starter: No. 5 Jahan Dotson

Backup: No. 6 Cam Sullivan-Brown

Wide Receiver

Starter: No 13 KeAndre Lambert Smith

Backup: No 16 Cam Sullivan-Brown

Wide Receiver

Starter: No. 3 Parker Washington

Backup: No. 89 Winston Eubanks OR No. 8 Marquis Wilson

The Lowdown: The season's fourth game didn't show us anything that makes us change this section, though it's interesting that Harrison Wallace III received nine snaps during the Villanova win. He's still on track to redshirt, but he's clearly starting to earn the coaches' trust.

Penn State tight end Tyler Warren falls into the end zone for a touchdown during the Nittany Lions' win over Villanova. BWI photo/Steve Manuel
Penn State tight end Tyler Warren falls into the end zone for a touchdown during the Nittany Lions' win over Villanova. BWI photo/Steve Manuel

Tight End

Starter: No. 86 Brenton Strange

Backup: No. 84 Theo Johnson

Third-string: No. 44 Tyler Warren

The Lowdown: It's tempting to move Warren to an 'OR' spot opposite Johnson, but the latter tight end still has a considerable snap count lead over the former, so we'll leave this as is for the time being, though it's something to watch in October. James Franklin also said he's third, but noted there is no position they'd be afraid to put Warren into.

Offensive Line

Left Tackle

Starter: No. 53 Rasheed Walker

Backup: No. 74 Olu Fashanu

Left Guard

Starter No. 68 Eric Wilson

Backup: No. 72 Bryce Effner

Center

Starter: No. 73 Mike Miranda

Backup: No. 72 Bryce Effner OR No. 70 Juice Scruggs

Right Guard

Starter: No. 70 Juice Scruggs

Backup: No. 75 Des Holmes OR No. 72 Bryce Effner

Right Tackle

Starter: No. 79 Caedan Wallace

Backup: No. 72 Bryce Effner

The Lowdown: We had listed Landon Tengwall as the backup right tackle for the last few weeks, but after he didn't play against Villanova, we're changing that to Effner, who is clearly the team's plug-and-play sixth-man along the offensive line.

Defensive Line

Defensive End

Starter: No. 46 Nick Tarburton OR No. 40 Jesse Luketa

Backup: No. 92 Smith Vilbert No.36 Zuriah Fisher

Defensive Tackle

Starter: No. 97 PJ Mustipher

Backup: No. 91 D'Von Ellies OR No. 99 Coziah Izzard

Third-string: No. 56 Amin Vanover OR No. 54 Fred Hansard

Defensive Tackle

Starter: No. 54 Derrick Tangelo

Backup: No. 91 D'Von Ellies OR No. 99 Coziah Izzard

Third-string: No. 56 Amin Vanover OR No. 54 Fred Hansard

Defensive End

Starter: No. 17 Arnold Ebiketie

Backup: No. 40 Jesse Luketa

Third-string: No. 92 Smith Vilbert OR No.36 Zuriah Fisher

The Lowdown: We're leaving Tarburton in the starting spot until something changes on game day, but regardless, we're seeing a bunch of him and Luketa. Fred Hansard makes his first appearance in a deep defensive tackle rotation spot, but it's clear that Ellis and Izzard make up the top backup pairing Mustipher and Tangelo.

Linebacker

Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith played a big role in the Nittany Lions' 4-0 start. Photo courtesy of PSU Athletics
Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith played a big role in the Nittany Lions' 4-0 start. Photo courtesy of PSU Athletics

WILL Linebacker

Starter: No. 12 Brandon Smith

Backup: No. 45 Charlie Katshir

Middle Linebacker

Starter: No. 13 Ellis Brooks

Backup: No. 40 Jesse Luketa

SAM Linebacker

Starter: No. 23 Curtis Jacobs

Backup: No. 0 Jonathan Sutherland

The Lowdown: Everything carries over here for yet another week, but Tyler Elsdon received plenty of run against Villanova, and so no we'll wonder if that was simply because it was the Wildcats or if we should expect to see more of him throughout the year based on what he did over the season's first month.

Secondary

Cornerback

Starter: No. 5 Tariq Castro-Fields

Backup: No. 25 Daequan Hardy OR No. 4 Kalen King OR No. 3 Johnny Dixon


Safety

Starter: No. 16 Ji’Ayir Brown

Backup: No. 2 Keaton Ellis OR No. 0 Jonathan Sutherland

Safety

Starter: No. 1 Jaquan Brisker

Backup: No. 2 Keaton Ellis OR No. 0 Jonathan Sutherland


Cornerback

Starter: No. 9 Joey Porter Jr.

Backup: No. 25 Daequan Hardy OR No. 4 Kalen King OR 3 Johnny Dixon

Starting slot corner

25 Daequan Hardy

The Lowdown: Dixon outsnapping Hardy and King 30-16 was definitely a bit of a surprise, but again, was that because it was Villanova, or is he passing those two as the top backup when either Porter Jr., or Castro-Fields come out? We'll learn more against the Hoosiers. Also, Ellis has been added to our chart now that he's back in the. mix at safety.

Special Teams 

Kicker: No. 98 Jordan Stout

Punter: No. 98 Jordan Stout

Kickoff specialist: No. 98 Jordan Stout

Punt returner: No. 5 Jahan Dotson

Kick returners: No. 24 Keyvone Lee and No. 28 Devyn Ford

The Lowdown: Jake Pinegar was again not part of the game plan, as Jordan Stout continues to handle all duties. We're probably just a week away from adding Lovett to the kick returner line, for what it's worth.

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