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James Franklin provides injury update for Penn State defensive end

Earlier this week, James Franklin provided an update on a Penn State defensive end who has been ruled out for the season.



Penn State defensive end, Penn State Football, Smith Vilbert, James Franklin
Jul 26, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin speaks to the media during the Big 10 football media day at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

As Penn State football nears the end of week three of fall camp, injuries have thus far been some of the more significant headlines on the defensive side of the ball. To date, we’ve learned of two Nittany Lion defensive linemen who will miss the 2023 season due to injury. Earlier this week, head coach James Franklin shed light on the status of one of those injured defenders, Penn State defensive end Smith Vilbert.

James Franklin discusses injured Penn State defensive end Smith Vilbert

Less than a week into fall camp, we learned that Smith Vilbert had been ruled out for the season due to injury. Due to the football program’s policy of keeping medical information private, little is known about when or how the defensive end’s injury occurred. However, during media availability following practice Monday night, James Franklin shared that Vilbert’s status has been known internally for quite some time.

“Smith had this injury months ago, so that’s not anything new for us,” Franklin told reporters. “It just came out publicly [now].”

Smith Vilbert missed the entire regular season in 2022 due to undisclosed reasons. He did appear in the Rose Bowl in January, but did not record any stats in that game. Franklin also expressed optimism over Vilbert’s return next season. The defensive end is a redshirt senior who still maintains eligibility from the 2020 COVID season.

“I think he’s got a really bright future,” Franklin said. “I’m super proud of Smith… Now it’s the plan of getting him ready to have a huge year next year, and get a second degree, which is phenomenal.”

Updates on other injured Nittany Lions

This week’s practice availability also helped shed light on the health status of several other members of the Penn State football roster. During Monday’s availability, James Franklin noted that offensive lineman Landon Tengwall is working through “some bumps and bruises.” Tengwall missed the second half of 2022 due to injury.

Transfer defensive lineman Alonzo Ford was seen for the first time since it was reported that he would also miss the entire 2023 season. According to Tyler Donohue of Lions247, Ford was spotted at practice using a motorized chair after sustaining a lower-body injury.

With several early hits to the Nittany Lion rotation up front, the depth of this Penn State football team will immediately be tested to start the season. “…I do think this is as much depth [as] we have had,” Franklin said of his roster at media day earlier this month. “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.”

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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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