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Penn State football defensive backfield garnering high praise from national media

The 2023 Penn State football defensive backfield is receiving some major national attention following spring practice, and has been pinned as one of the top DB rooms in the nation this year.



Penn State football defensive backfield
© Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

Entering the second year of the Manny Diaz era in State College, the Nittany Lions have exceptionally high expectations. A year ago, Penn State surpassed their preseason expectations, finishing with an impressive 11-2 record despite national predictions placing them at around 8-4 at best. Now, the Penn State football defensive backfield is receiving considerable recognition as one of the nation’s best, with numerous top national media outlets acknowledging their talent. They recently secured a spot in the top 5 of the latest post-spring rankings.

Led by preseason All-American Kalen King, it will be challenging for opposing teams to pass against the Nittany Lions this upcoming season. For Penn State football, a strong secondary and the ability to force teams to run the ball will be crucial for the program’s future success. According to the newest On3 post-spring ranking, the 2023 Penn State football defensive backfield is considered one of the top 5 defensive back rooms in the country.

Penn State football defensive backfield garnering national hype ahead of 2023 season

Despite the recent departure of transfer addition Storm Duck, who was an All-ACC honorable mention at UNC, the Penn State football defensive backfield has been ranked as one of the top 5 units in the nation. Penn State still showcases standout players like Kalen King and Johnny Dixon leading into the 2023 season. As demonstrated in the previous season, the Nittany Lions benefit from having one of the most skilled defensive minds in the game directing their strategy. Furthermore, long-time defensive backs coach Terry Smith will be diligently preparing his group, and considering their past performance, the Lions should be in capable hands this fall.

According to On3’s latest rankings, the Penn State football defensive backfield holds the fifth position nationally and third in the Big Ten. The Iowa Hawkeyes, renowned for their formidable defense, and the Michigan Wolverines, although currently facing concerns about their depth, are ranked higher than Penn State in the top 5.

Why No. 5? On3 explains their rankings

Here is On3’s explanation for ranking Penn State football in the top-5 nationally:

“With opposing passing attacks not wanting to challenge Joey Porter Jr. last season, Nittany Lions CB2 Kalen King led the Big Ten with 21 passes defended. Now CB1, King is the next future high NFL Draft pick and projects as a preseason All-American. Opposite of King is senior Johnny Dixon, who has played a lot at both corner and nickel the last few seasons, picking off two passes in 2022. Senior Daequan Hardy is the projected starter at nickel. Back in December, Penn State added Storm Duck out of the transfer portal, but the former UNC corner opted to make a second offseason move in the spring window, heading to Louisville instead. The Nittany Lions could look to add another cornerback out of the portal this offseason.”

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