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Penn State football is slowly addressing major team needs ahead of summer ball

Penn State football is taking care of its many team needs ahead of summer ball. Here is how things stand right now.



Penn State football, Jeff Exinor Jr., 2025 recruiting, Junior Day
© Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

James Franklin and his Nittany Lions made an impactful addition to their 2023 roster with the recruitment of Audavion Collins, a former Mississippi State Bulldog, via the transfer portal. Collins brings much-needed depth to PSU’s defense, filling a critical role and addressing one of the team’s more pressing concerns following spring ball. However, the coaching staff is also making steady progress in addressing a few other Penn State football team needs.

What are the Penn State football team needs right now?

Following the Nittany Lions’ spring game, which wrapped up about a month ago now, James Franklin outlined two specific team needs: defensive tackle and wide receiver. So far, Penn State has addressed one of those via the transfer portal this spring, and one has seemingly worked itself out on its own. Here is what Franklin said during his Blue/White post-game presser:

“I think we’re in a good place right now, but I think we need more depth and more competition at D-Tackle,” James Franklin said after the Blue/White game. “I think we need more depth and competition at wide receiver. I think we could get by West Virginia — or by game four or game five — I think we could have six guys that we feel good about. But it’s not competitive … I want there to be legitimate competition at every position.

“The phones are buzzing,” Franklin said about the transfer portal. “It’s all over the place right now, it’s crazy. I addressed it with our team in the locker room afterwards. But those two positions (defensive tackle and wide receiver) specifically [are portal needs], and then a great difference-maker at any position.”

After the conclusion of the Blue/White game, Penn State football identified another crucial team requirement: additional depth at the cornerback position. Storm Duck, a former transfer addition who had joined the Nittany Lions for a brief period, decided to re-enter the portal and returned to the ACC.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, Penn State successfully secured a transfer cornerback from the SEC, ensuring that there will be no concerns regarding competition at the top of the cornerback room. This acquisition effectively resolves the need for increased depth at the position.

Defensive tackle depth was addressed via the transfer portal

Earlier this offseason, a Penn State football team need was somewhat addressed at defensive tackle with the addition of Alonzo Ford, a former Old Dominion Monarch.

In past years, Ford quickly established himself as a valuable asset for the Monarchs, delivering impressive performances over two seasons. Despite the cancellation of ODU’s 2020 season due to the pandemic, Ford made a significant impact in his freshman campaign in 2021. He recorded an impressive total of 40 tackles and even managed to recover a fumble.

Building upon this success, Ford continued to excel in 2022, accumulating 32 tackles, including 3.5 sacks. As a result of his outstanding contributions, Ford received the esteemed recognition of an All-Sun Belt Conference honorable mention last year.

Standing at an imposing 6-3 and weighing 290 pounds during his high school years, Ford’s most recent weight at Old Dominion was listed at 272 pounds. By taking advantage of the Penn State strength program, there is an opportunity for Ford to add substantial muscle mass and address a crucial need in the somewhat undersized defensive tackle room. This additional “good weight” will undoubtedly bolster his abilities and make him an even more formidable presence on the field.

He isn’t the biggest name on the market, but he does add depth, size, experience, and more competition to the 2023 Penn State football roster, and is a valuable asset to have right now.

Wide receiver is yet to be addressed via the portal, but is slowly working itself out

The second major team need for Penn State football may not actually be a need anymore. The wide receivers room recently saw a boost from Kent State transfer Dante Cephas, who committed a few months back but just recently arrived on campus — according to recent reports, his presence has resolved some depth issues that Penn State previously had.

In addition to Cephas, Florida State transfer Malik McClain has been stepping up, as well as rising sophomore Omari Evans, who shinned during the spring game.

With all three of these new wideouts standing out throughout the offseason, a former Penn State team need may not actually be a need at all; there is a solid chance that the Nittany Lions are content with where they are at with the wide receiver room as it stands. At the same time, I would not be shocked if the Lions pursued another depth piece before summer practice; just because it is not a pressing need does not mean that the coaching staff will sit back and relax, especially if there is a name in the portal they truly like.

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