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Penn State true sophomore standing out to James Franklin during spring ball

The Nittany Lions have a rising star in the middle of their defensive line.



Penn State football, Floyd Boucard, 2025 recruiting class
Nov 12, 2022; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive tackle Zane Durant (28) reacts following a sack on Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) (not pictured) during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The Nittany Lions’ defense performed incredibly well a season ago under first-year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Now, heading into the 2023 Penn State football season, the Lions’ defense is looking loaded once again, with returning stars such as Kalen King (CB), Abdul Carter (LB), Chop Robinson (EDGE), and more. Still, Penn State has some question marks towards the interior of the defensive line; however, head coach James Franklin claims that rising sophomore defensive tackle Zane Durant is standing out during spring ball.

Penn State facing unknowns at D-Line

A year ago, Penn State football fans were excited about the return of PJ Mustipher to the lineup after he was out for most of 2021 with an injury. Now, for the first time since that 2021 season, Penn State must find a way to replace his presence in the middle of the defensive line. In a conference like the Big Ten, clogging up rushing lanes in the middle of the field is essential; in fact, the Nittany Lions got a bit of a lesson on why it’s so important to stop the run when Michigan crushed Penn State in Ann Arbor and gave up over 400 yards on the ground.

With a few guys still out due to injury right now, James Franklin is still piecing together who will start on the inside of Penn State’s defensive line, but Zane Durant stands out from the crowd.

Rising sophomore defensive tackle Zane Durant stepping up during spring ball

During last week’s media availability, James Franklin had a chance to address some of the program’s instability at defensive tackle when asked about his defensive line issues.

“Well, we’ve got some guys out, so that is factoring into it as well,” head coach James Franklin said on Tuesday. “I think Zane Durant is on a really good trajectory — I think you’ll see a big jump from his true freshman year. Kinda getting some reps to now and being a guy with a significant role, and he is putting really good weight on.

You look at him and he doesn’t necessarily look a lot heavier, but he’s put on really good weight, and he’s still lean and explosive and athletic. So [Zane] kind of fits what we are looking for so he is probably a guy that has stood out as much as anybody — we’re really looking forward to getting [the other defensive tackles] back … and we’ve got one D-tackle that hasn’t arrived yet.”

Who is Zane Durant?

Zane Durant is a rising sophomore defensive tackle in the Blue and White and could find himself a solid role on the Penn State defense this fall. According to Penn State’s website, Durant has a 6-foot-1, 275-pound frame and appeared in all 13 of the Nittany Lions’ games during last year’s 11-2 campaign. Out of high school, 247 Sports ranked Durant as a four-star defensive tackle and pinned him as the No. 42 D-Tackle in the class and the No. 37 player in the state of Florida.

Heading into his second year of college football with James Franklin’s Penn State Nittany Lions, look for Durant to make the jump and fill a much-needed depth role at defensive tackle.

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