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Penn State football freshman gearing up for a breakout season this fall

Penn State football has a huge freshman that is undoubtedly gearing up for a head-turning season in Happy Valley this fall.

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Penn State football freshman linebacker Tony Rojas
© Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

This fall, Penn State football could be in for a monster year; in fact, fans and national media expect nothing less after the Nittany Lions finished 11-2 and won the Rose Bowl in 2022, which was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the program. Still, the Lions have a lot of young faces and will need to mesh if they expect to make a run at knocking off Ohio State and Michigan and winning the Big Ten for the first time since 2016. One of the program’s biggest weapons right now is depth, and one of the team’s rising star depth pieces is freshman linebacker Tony Rojas. If spring ball reports ring true and Rojas lives up to the hype, this Penn State football freshman could be in for a monster year this fall.

Penn State football freshman linebacker Tony Rojas in for a breakout season in State College

Since committing as a member of Penn State’s 2023 recruiting class, Tony Rojas has been a major topic of interest among fans and the media. Since arriving on campus as an early enrollee, Rojas has further established himself as a potential breakout star in the Blue and White. According to spring ball reports from James Franklin and a few notable players, Rojas has bulked up, looks faster, and has an impressive football IQ.

“When he came [to Penn State], he was a good size,” Kalen King said during spring practice. “But now you can really see the difference; his muscles are a little bigger — his presence is a little bigger now … I feel like he didn’t lose a step — I feel he gained good weight because he is still out there making plays on the ball. He’s still out there, you know, making good open-field tackles, so I feel like that weight only benefitted him.”

29 pounds of “good weight?”

According to head coach James Franklin, one of the most impressive offseason feats that Penn State football saw, in general, was the weight gain of freshman linebacker Tony Rojas, who reportedly put on nearly 30 pounds of “good weight.” Considering Rojas is still a freshman and hasn’t even hit his first fall semester in State College yet, this could be an incredible sign of things to come for the Penn State football team’s newest addition.

“Them being here now I think is really valuable,” James Franklin said about true freshman linebackers Ta’Mere Robinson and Tony Rojas being present for spring ball. “[Tony Rojas] is gaining more and more confidence every single day, he has put on 29 pounds since he’s been here, and it’s good weight. I don’t know how that is necessarily possible, but he has put on 29 pounds.

“Every time I go to the nutrition bar he is sitting there eating — after practice, he is getting an extra pump in, and he is playing fast and carrying the weight really well. There is a lot of excitement about those two guys.”

Heading into the 2023 season, Tony Rojas — a former four-star recruit — will likely not find himself in a starting role right off the bat. That being said, Penn State’s Blue/White game leader in tackles (Rojas) may be in store for a breakout season and will likely earn a good amount of playing time as a depth piece this fall. For now, getting the impressive Penn State football freshman linebacker in shape for the 2024 season should be a bigger concern, as that is likely when he will find a much more meaningful role on Penn State’s team.



Thank you for reading Basic Blues Nation. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and insights on your favorite Penn State athletics. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email us at basicbluesnation@gmail.com or direct message us on our social media. It’s due to your support that we can become one of the market’s fastest-growing Penn State sports outlets!

FOOTBALL

James Franklin is pleased with new Penn State football transfer portal addition

James Franklin says a new Penn State football transfer portal addition is standing out so far.

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Penn State football, transfer portal, Dante Cephas, James Franklin
Apr 15, 2023; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin walks off the field following the competition of the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. The Blue team defeated the White team 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Earlier today, James Franklin and the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff had some time to speak with the media ahead of summer camp in Happy Valley. With the team’s newest signees suiting up and on campus now, it comes as little surprise to fans and the media that a new Penn State football transfer portal addition is already standing out during his short period in the Blue and White.

New Penn State football transfer portal addition already standing out

According to Penn State head coach James Franklin, the Nittany Lions have a star in Dante Cephas, a new Penn State football transfer portal addition. Cephas is headed to State College after spending four years with the Kent State Golden Flashes, a member of the Mid-American Conference.

Cephas brings a large frame, quick hands, great footwork, and a fast release to the table for the Blue and White. He is expected to be a valuable weapon for Penn State quarterback Drew Allar, who many assume will be the Nittany Lions’ starter in Week 1 against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Today, James Franklin delved into what makes Dante Cephas special and shared his observations so far.

James Franklin breaks down Cephas

Below is just some of what the Nittany Lions’ head coach, James Franklin, had to say about Dante Cephas and his abilities thus far in the Blue and White. It’s important to note that these comments were made shortly after Cephas arrived on campus and before summer ball, but indications are that there are great things ahead for this new addition to the Penn State football transfer portal.

“He tested well in our initial testing,” James Franklin said earlier today during Penn State’s media availability. “I do think this level of training, no knock to anybody else or other programs or other schools, I do think this is different for him. And I think, in a lot of ways, that’s exciting because the lifting in the running is at a very different level. And I think his body really has a chance to explode and develop over the time that hopefully we have him. So far, so good.”

Dante Cephas has been receiving significant national attention since joining Penn State after the 2022 season. Just this week, he was recognized as a top Big Ten transfer by CBS Sports and was ranked among the top three wide receivers in the Big Ten by Pro Football Focus. It’s clear that Cephas is off to a strong start in the Blue and White.



Thank you for reading Basic Blues Nation. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and insights on your favorite Penn State athletics. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email us at basicbluesnation@gmail.com or direct message us on our social media. It’s due to your support that we can become one of the market’s fastest-growing Penn State sports outlets!

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BREAKING: 2024 and 2025 Big Ten schedules released

Penn State football has just learned which Big Ten opponents it will face under the new scheduling format.

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2024 and 2025 Big Ten schedules, Penn State Football
Jan 2, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) is defended by USC Trojans defensive back Ajene Harris (27) in the second quarter during the 103rd Rose Bowl at Rose Bowl. USC defeated Penn State 52-49 in the highest scoring game in Rose Bowl history. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday afternoon, the 2024 and 2025 Big Ten schedules for football were announced. The announcement is notable given the addition of two new teams, USC and UCLA, to the conference. In a significant move for Nittany Lions fans, Penn State football will host USC in Beaver Stadium next fall, followed by UCLA in 2025.

Penn State football gets favorable Big Ten matchups in 2024

Penn State football will face a series of monster Big Ten opponents at home in 2025, including Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, and USC. The schedule also features several favorable road matchups, such as Indiana, Purdue, Rutgers, and Wisconsin. 

The 2025 schedule will present a challenge for Nittany Lions

While the 2024 schedule shakes out favorably for Penn State football, 2025 will be much more difficult. The Nittany Lions will host Illinois, Minnesota, and Rutgers in the 2025 season. However, the road slate will feature extremely difficult tests. Penn State will have to travel to several challenging venues, including Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, and USC. 

Other notable features of the new 2024 and 2025 Big Ten schedules

As has been reported by several different outlets this afternoon, Penn State is not included in one of the protected rivalry games kept by the Big Ten. We are already seeing the impacts of this feature firsthand. Penn State will not play the Michigan Wolverines next season, nor will the Nittany Lions play the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2025. 

While this means that James Franklin and Penn State will no longer face the gauntlet of the Big Ten East, that does not mean the schedule gets easier by any means. The 2025 road schedule is nothing short of daunting, with games at Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, and USC. 

Of course, we do not have the scheduled dates for any of these games yet, so the timings of these matchups will also greatly influence the strength of the schedule for the Nittany Lions. 

Please note: This is a breaking news story. We will provide more information as it becomes available.



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Penn State football: James Franklin thinks PSU may have the best defensive line in the nation

According to James Franklin, the Penn State football defensive line is coming together nicely thus far.

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Penn State football defensive line, James Franklin, defensive tackles
Nov 5, 2022; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive tackle Dvon Ellies (91) celebrates with Penn State Nittany Lions defensive tackle Coziah Izzard (99) after a sack during the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Earlier today, head coach James Franklin had a chance to speak with the media for around 30 minutes at the Lasch Football Building in State College, PA. There, Franklin expressed his excitement about the Penn State football defensive line — specifically the defensive tackles — which he claims may be the best in the nation. Since last year’s crushing 41-17 loss to Michigan, the D-tackle position has been in question for Penn State, so this is great news for the Blue and White.

Penn State football defensive line is resolving questions with defensive tackles this spring

The Penn State football defensive line is looking like one of the best in the country right now — from the defensive ends to the interior of the D-line, the Nittany Lions are looking to make waves on defense and push for a Big Ten title this fall.

Following the Blue/White spring game at Beaver Stadium in April, James Franklin pointed out a major area of need for his Nittany Lions: more depth and experience at defensive tackle. Considering the loss of long-time star defensive tackle PJ Mustipher from the 2022 squad, Franklin’s concern appeared to be justified. However, today his message was different heading into summer camp.

“Probably the position I am most excited about right now, for a lot of different reasons, is defensive tackle,” head coach James Franklin said earlier today. “… We got a chance to have, I think, one of the best D-lines in the country — from a depth and talent standpoint — but also a size standpoint … right now that’s a position group that I am really excited about, that I think has a chance to take us to the next level on defense.”

2023 D-line, especially defensive tackles, could make or break the Nittany Lions’ season

A season ago, the Penn State football defensive line left many wondering how it would pan out down the road. Now, Franklin says that these questions are starting to be resolved.

“We’ve got a chance (to have a great defensive tackle group), we just gotta back it up with the work right now,” Franklin explained.

There have been a few notable names turning heads along the Penn State football defensive line this spring. One of the most talked-about rising stars is sophomore tackle Zane Durant, who has consistently been mentioned as a potential breakout player for the 2023 season. Additionally, players like Hakeem Beamon and Dvon Ellies were mentioned today as potential stars in the making.

Zane Durant is bigger and stronger than he’s been,” Franklin said. “Hakeem [Beamon] is bigger than he has been in a long time.”

If this year’s Penn State football defensive line can step up and make a significant impact this fall, the Nittany Lions will have their best opportunity in quite some time to challenge the powerhouses of the Big Ten East, Michigan and Ohio State. It could pave the way for them to claim the program’s first Big Ten title since the 2016 season.



Thank you for reading Basic Blues Nation. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and insights on your favorite Penn State athletics. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email us at basicbluesnation@gmail.com or direct message us on our social media. It’s due to your support that we can become one of the market’s fastest-growing Penn State sports outlets!

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