Connect with us


ICYMI: Penn State tight end makes Mackey Award watch list

Theo Johnson has a chance to become one of the best tight ends in college football this season.



Penn State tight end, Penn State football, Theo Johnson, Mackey Award
Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Theo Johnson (84) reacts after a reception in the first half against the Utah Utes in the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

From breaking in a new starting quarterback to identifying a top receiver, Penn State football comes into the 2023 season with several unanswered questions in the passing game. However, one aspect of the aerial attack that isn’t in question is the tight ends. In recent years, the Nittany Lions have built up the position group to be one of the best tight end rooms in college football. Stepping into the starter’s role this season, Penn State tight end Theo Johnson will look to establish himself as one of the best players in the sport at his position. This effort is already off to a strong start, as yesterday Johnson was named to the Mackey Award watch list for the nation’s top tight end. 

Penn State tight end Theo Johnson named to Mackey Award watch list

Junior tight end Theo Johnson was named to the Mackey Award watch list this week, the Penn State football program announced Friday. The award, named after NFL Hall of Fame John Mackey, is presented yearly to the top tight end in college football. This is the second time Johnson has made the Mackey Award watch list, also doing so last season.

Splitting snaps primarily with Brenton Strange and Tyler Warren in recent years, Theo Johnson has racked up nearly 600 yards and five touchdowns in his career at Penn State. Last season was by far his most productive in Happy Valley. After missing several early games due to injury, Johnson hauled in 20 receptions for 328 yards and four touchdowns in 2022.

Warren still figures to be a significant factor for the Nittany Lions this fall, but Johnson is expected to take over the starter’s role in earnest. While those around the Penn State football program have seen Johnson’s athleticism on full display, many believe 2023 is when he will put those skills on show for the entire country. Former Penn State tight end Adam Breneman went as far as to say he believes Johnson can be “the best tight end in the Big Ten” this season.

“He’s athletic. He can run. He’s big. But most importantly, he controls his body so well with movement,” Breneman said of Johnson. “He has great balance. He stays off the ground. And he’s extremely fluid with his motions.”

The expectations for Theo Johnson, as well as the entire Penn State offense, are high going into 2023. And in less than a month, it will be time for Johnson and the rest of the Nittany Lions to prove it.

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 [email protected] or direct message us on our social media. Also, be sure to check out our new site shop. It’s due to your support that we can become one of the market’s fastest-growing Penn State sports outlets!

A third-generation Penn Stater, Matt is Associate Editor for Basic Blues Nation and co-host of the podcast PSU Tailgate Talk. Matt also works as a staffer in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Matt lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and a small army of pets.