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Penn State football defenders listed as top Big Ten true freshmen in 2023

Penn State football fans should keep an eye out for these two newcomers this season.



Penn State Football, Tony Rojas, King Mack, Big Ten
Treasure Coast's quarterback George Roberts (left) gets hit by King Mack of St. Thomas Aquins, and pushed out of bounds during the first quarter of play at the South County Stadium on Friday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Port St. Lucie. St. Thomas Aquinas won 21-7. Tcn Hsfb Tc Hosts Sta 02

One of the main storylines for Penn State football in 2022 was the emergence of several key impact true freshmen players. On offense, Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen quickly took over the Nittany Lion backfield and ascended to be one of the best running back duos in the country. On defense, Abdul Carter became a force to be reckoned with, drawing comparisons to Micah Parsons. As the offseason comes to a close, Penn State fans are clamoring for a player who could be the next true freshman sensation. According to a new analysis from On3, two Penn State football players, Tony Rojas and King Mack, may be among the best true freshmen in the Big Ten this season.

Tony Rojas and King Mack are projected as true freshmen impact players for Penn State football

Early this week, Matt Zenitz of On3 published a piece analyzing the top 10 true freshmen in the Big Ten who are positioned to be factors in 2023. Penn State had two players on the defensive side of the football make the list, linebacker Tony Rojas and safety King Mack.

“Penn State has two of the top linebackers in the Big Ten, Curtis Jacobs and Abdul Carter, and Rojas is a talented first-year player that the Nittany Lions staff is excited about,” Zenitz writes. It’s no shock that Tony Rojas made this list, as he has been one of the most prominent storylines to come out of spring practice for the Nittany Lions. Rojas made headlines this spring for putting on nearly 30 pounds of weight and was one of the standout performers from April’s Blue-White Game.

However, King Mack may be a new name for some Nittany Lions fans, only enrolling in May. Mack, a four-star prospect out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida, was a top 10 safety in the class of 2023. Even in a crowded defensive backfield, Mack is a versatile athlete that the coaching staff feels will be able to find the field this fall. “Penn State views him as a safety who ‘can cover a lot of ground with bad intentions’ and as someone who ‘will help and play a lot of special teams also,'” the article notes.

If Rojas and Mack see considerable playing time in 2023, then it truly is a testament to their skill level. Penn State football boasts a top 5 defense at almost every position, according to ratings compiled by On3. At any rate, both players have the talent to be significant contributors for years to come, and Nittany Lions fans should be excited about their long-term development.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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