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Does Penn State football have the best roster in the country?

Penn State football has been one of the most hyped teams of the 2023 offseason. But where do the Nittany Lions really compare with the best teams in the country? New analysis suggests that Penn State has one of the best rosters in college football.



Penn State Football, college football
Nov 6, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin greats players as the enter the field before the game against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The hype around Penn State football is palpable heading into the 2023 season. The Nittany Lions return much of the young talent from a roster that exceeded expectations last fall, going 11-2 and winning the Rose Bowl. With another year’s worth of experience, Penn State has become one of the most attractive teams in college football this offseason. But where does the talent in Happy Valley stack up with the rest of college football? Recent analysis suggests that Penn State has one of the most talented teams in America heading into this season. 

Five Penn State players ranked in the top 100 in college football

Yesterday, 247Sports released its rankings of the top 100 players in college football heading into the 2023 season. With five Nittany Lions in the top 100, Penn State was tied for the fourth most players in the ranking. Only Georgia (10), LSU (6), and Texas (6) had more representation on 247’s list. Penn State was tied with fellow Big Ten East foes Michigan and Ohio State, with 5 players apiece in the top 100.

According to the rankings, Penn State boasts a top 5 player in America, with Olu Fashanu coming in at No. 5. With Kalen King slotted at No. 13, the Nittany Lions were the first school with multiple players included in the top 100. Penn State and Ohio State were the only programs with multiple players ranked inside the top 15. The complete list of Nittany Lions is as follows:

5. Olu Fashanu

13. Kalen King

40. Chop Robinson

44. Nicholas Singleton

57. Abdul Carter

Nittany Lion freaks

If that wasn’t enough, yesterday, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic also released his annual college football “Freaks List,” which ranks the top athletes across the country. An analysis that focuses more on raw athletic ability and less on previous on-field production, Feldman’s list is one of the most well-read articles each year, as his rankings translate well to the NFL Combine.

Penn State is well represented on this year’s “Freaks List.” In addition to Carter, Fashanu, Singleton, and Robinson, Jordan van den Berg and Zane Durant are also included among Feldman’s freak athletes.

Penn State leads the way with 6 players included in Feldman’s ranking. Not only is this the most players of any program in 2023, but according to Feldman, this is the most of any team, ever. “I’ve never had as many players from one team as I do this year from Penn State football, but that’s how loaded this squad is with Freaks,” Feldman wrote on social media. “And, as we’ve said before, you can scoff at some of these amazing numbers, but Penn State guys prove it at the NFL Combine.”

From a top-end talent perspective, Penn State more than qualifies for its preseason No.7 ranking, and maybe then some, this fall. But to compete with the nation’s best teams, top-end talent must be compensated by high-level depth. According to James Franklin, the Nittany Lions have also made strides in this area. “…I do think this is as much depth [as] we have had,” Franklin said at Penn State football media day. “We have a three-deep at pretty much every position, and I’d probably describe it a little bit more in more detail as probably a two-and-a-half deep.”

Even as questions remain with this roster, Penn State continues to check off boxes as we approach the start of the 2023 season. As for the big one – is Penn State one of the best teams in America – well, that’s a question we’ll all have to wait to find out.

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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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