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Penn State football roster STACKED with top players in Big Ten

According to one ranking, Penn State football has more top end talent than any other team in the Big Ten this fall.



Penn State Football, top 10 players in the Big Ten, Olu Fashanu, Kalen King, Abdul Carter
Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions celebrate the victory against the Utah Utes at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There’s little question over whether or not Penn State football has one of the best rosters in the nation heading into the 2023 season. With several potential first-round NFL Draft picks and a core group of sensational young players, Penn State’s talent is starting to draw comparisons to the likes of Georgia, Alabama, and Clemson, among others. But where do the Nittany Lions stand within their own conference? Recently, On3 ranked three Penn State football stars, Olu Fashanu, Kalen King, and Abdul Carter, among the top 10 players in the Big Ten, the most out of any program.

Olu Fashanu, Kalen King, and Abdul Carter ranked as top 10 players in the Big Ten

This week, Jesse Simonton of On3 released his rankings of the top 10 players in the Big Ten ahead of the 2023 season. While Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. took home the top spot, from a program perspective, Penn State football led the way. With three Nittany Lions included, Penn State had more players in the top 10 than any other program in the conference. Ohio State and Michigan were tied for second with two apiece.

Trailing close behind Harrison for the top slot was left tackle Olu Fashanu, who came in at No. 2 on Simonton’s list. “The 6-5, 320-pound lineman will help open holes for Penn State’s two-headed tailback attack, and he’ll protect Drew Allar’s blindside, where he allowed zero sacks in eight starts in 2022,” Simonton wrote. Fashanu was ranked as the No. 5 player in the country by 247Sports earlier in the week.

Just outside the conference’s top five was Kalen King at No. 6. A third-team All-Big Ten selection, King was a force to be reckoned with last season. He led all Penn State defenders with 18 pass breakups in 2022. King has been named to numerous award watch lists this preseason, including the Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award, and Thorpe Award, to name a few.

Abdul Carter burst onto the scene as a true freshman last fall. Carter had 56 tackles, including 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 6.5 sacks last season. He became the first Penn State linebacker to have at least 10 tackles-for-loss and 6 sacks in a season since Dan Connor in 2007. “Carter is the game-changer in Manny Diaz’s havoc-focused defense,” Simonton wrote of the sophomore linebacker. “He has All-American potential in 2023, especially surrounded by so much other defensive talent.”

Scratching the surface of the Penn State roster

Even after taking up nearly a third of his top 10 players in the Big Ten, Simonton noted that the talented on this year’s Penn State football roster runs deep. “A trio of Nittany Lions did make my rankings, and I still felt wrong about leaving off tailback Nick Singleton and pass rusher Chop Robinson,” he wrote.

Without a doubt, Penn State’s top-end talent is unlike anything we’ve seen in Happy Valley in quite some time. But even with elite talent, the differentiator between great teams and elite teams always comes down to depth. This is something that head coach James Franklin says Penn State has in 2023. With injuries already claiming several Nittany Lions in the trenches and a long Big Ten conference slate ahead, this theory will most definitely be put to the test this season.

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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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