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XFL Signals New Start for Former Lions

With the XFL season now fully underway, several former Nittany Lions are looking to restart their careers in the new league.



Sep 14, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Ellis Brooks (13) reacts following a tackle during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Pittsburgh 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

For the longest time, football fans have felt the same thing every year as we get closer to spring and into the summer — the craving for football. We miss the feeling of the game day jitters before our team plays a game. We miss tailgating and yelling at the TV at the top of our lungs. We miss the unity that the fanbase feels one day a week. But, recently, some wealthy football fans have decided that this feeling is something we could have year-round. Football fans rejoiced as it was announced that the XFL was back.

Happy Valley to XFL Pipeline?

One common theme among college football fans is the pride they feel as their players transcend into professional football. We still root for the players we watched in college as they play for the pros. Sometimes these players are on your rival NFL team, and we still root for them anyway.

As the XFL is back, here are the Nittany Lions on XFL rosters in 2023.

Michal Menet, OL, Seattle Sea Dragons

Michal Menet was a four-star prospect in the class of 2016. Menet went to Exeter High School in Berks County, PA. He was county offensive and defensive lineman of the year. Penn State picked up the 28th-ranked player in the class and the 2nd-best player in PA, according to 247Sports

After redshirting for the 2016 season, Menet appeared in almost every game for the Nittany Lions in his career. Starting in 2018, Menet became a full-time starter at center. The following season he was named a team captain, a title he kept until his final year in 2020. Menet earned Third-Team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media in his Redshirt Senior season. 

After his final season in 2020, Menet was drafted as a seventh-round pick by the Cardinals. From there, Menet spent time on the Cardinals and Packers practice squads. Now, Menet has a chance to prove himself with the Seattle Sea Dragons.

An interesting note is that Menet’s brother, Joey Schlaffer (a 4-star TE), is enrolled at Penn State as a member of the class of 2027. 

Shareef Miller, DL, Seattle Sea Dragons

Shareef Miller came to Penn State as a three-star defensive end from Philadelphia. The George Washington High School product was a commit in the 2015 class. Miller redshirted his first year and then appeared in all 14 games on the famous 2016 Big Ten Championship team. From there, Miller earned back-to-back third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2017 and 2018. 

Miller was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Eagles. Miller was ultimately waived by the Eagles before the 2020 season. Miller bounced around three NFL teams before joining the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL in 2022. On January 1, 2023, the Seattle Sea Dragons selected Miller in the fourth round of the XFL Supplemental Draft. Miller joins his former Penn State teammate Michal Menet on the Seattle Sea Dragons. 

Steven Gonzalez, OL, St. Louis BattleHawks

It is no secret that Penn State recruits well in New Jersey. Starting with the Paterno Era, Penn State dominated NJ. This proved to be the case in 2015 when four-star offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez committed to the Nittany Lions. Gonzalez from Union City, NJ, was expected to be a big part of the Nittany Lions’ plans. Gonzalez proved to do just that.

After redshirting in 2015, Gonzalez made three starts and appeared in eleven games in 2016. From 2017-2019, Gonzalez was a full-time starter for the Nittany Lions. Gonzalez even earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in his final season. 

Despite this high praise, Gonzalez went undrafted in the 2020 draft. Gonzalez signed with the Cardinals for the 2020 preseason. Unfortunately, Gonzalez did not end up making the final roster. He spent the 2020 season out of football. This led to Gonzalez going to Penn State’s Pro Day in 2021 to prove himself once more (there was no Pro Day in 2020 due to Covid-19). After a short time with the Bills and in the USFL, Gonzalez is now a St. Louis BattleHawk.


John Lovett, RB, Vegas Vipers

Unlike the other Penn State players on this list so far, John Lovett did not originally commit to playing at Penn State. Lovett was a three-star running back in the class of 2017. The NJ product decided to go to Baylor. Lovett spent four years with the Bears before deciding to spend his final year in blue and white

Lovett was one of many backs in the Penn State offense to be featured in 2021. Since he was not the main option at RB, Lovett’s numbers do not stand out. However, Lovett was still able to make an NFL roster when he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Panthers. Unfortunately, Lovett never cracked the final roster for the Panthers.

Now, John Lovett has a chance with the Vegas Vipers. 

Robert Windsor, DL, Vegas Vipers

Robert Windsor was a three-star defensive line prospect out of Fond Du Lac, WI. Windsor, a member of the 2015 class, redshirted that same year. Windsor appeared in all 14 games in his first season. In his second season in 2017, Windsor appeared in all 13 games and led the Big Ten in fumble recoveries (3). In 2018 Windsor made 12 starts and finished number six in the Big Ten with 0.63 sacks per game. In his final season, Windsor started in 13 games and was named third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches. It is safe to say Windsor had a very successful career with the Nittany Lions.

Windsor was a sixth-round draft pick by the Colts in 2020. Windsor spent time between the Colts’ practice squad and active roster this year. In 2021 Windsor was placed on IR. The following year in 2022, Windsor retired from the NFL because of his injuries.

However, Windsor is making his football return in the XFL. Windsor told Penn State’s own Steve Jones that he wants to use the XFL as a stepping stone to get back to the NFL. Time will tell whether or not an NFL team will seek Robert’s services. 

Ellis Brooks, LB, DC Defenders (Reserve Roster)

Ellis Brooks, a member of the 2017 class, was a four-star LB from Richmond. Brooks was ranked the 260th overall player according to 247’s composite ranking. 

After redshirting in 2017, Brooks made a name for himself on Penn State’s defense. In his first season in 2018, Brooks appeared in 13 games. In the following season, Brooks appeared in 13 games and had 2.5 sacks (second among linebackers). In 2020 Brooks made 9 starts and led the team in tackles with 60. In his final season, Brooks led Penn State in tackles once more with 100. Brooks was named second-team All-Big Ten after his final season.

Despite a very productive career with the Nittany Lions, Brooks went undrafted. Brooks signed as an undrafted free agent with the Packers. His time in Green Bay was short-lived, as they cut him before the season. Brooks is currently on the reserve roster for the DC Defenders. 


Carolina Panthers could be eying former Penn State quarterback with top draft pick

A former Nittany Lion could go No. 1 in this year’s NFL Draft.



Former Penn State quarterback
Nov 7, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Will Levis (7) warms up during a time-out Maryland Terrapins during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, a massive NFL Draft trade took place. The Chicago Bears — who previously boasted the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft — sent the top 2023 draft pick to the quarterback-hungry Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are in need of a new franchise QB heading into the 2023 season and could be eying a former Penn State quarterback.

Panthers could be targeting former Penn State quarterback

When it comes to former Penn State quarterback Will Levis, the punchline around State College remains the same: why would an NFL team want a guy that was beaten by Sean Clifford for the starting job twice? Well, it’s not as simple as who James Franklin would have picked.

What head coach James Franklin saw in former Penn State quarterback Will Levis was the mediocre QB that led the Kentucky Wildcats to a 7-6 season while throwing for 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 2022. On the contrary, what NFL scouts see with Will Levis is his massive 6-3, 232-pound frame and incredible arm strength/talent. Any solid scout will look at Levis and see potential, not the college product.

Since the Panthers need a QB — and Will Levis is a current betting favorite to go No. 1 this year — we could see the former Penn State quarterback end up with Carolina on day one of this year’s draft.

James Franklin still made the right call with Levis

Even if former Penn State quarterback Will Levis goes No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin still made the right call with Clifford and Levis. Why? Simple: Clifford was the better quarterback in college.

Levis had a robust frame and solid arm, but as we saw a season ago, that arm was inconsistent, and his decision-making was not up to par. The Clifford vs. Levis debate was settled a year ago — The Kentucky Wildcats fell to 7-6 behind a subpar Will Levis; meanwhile, the Penn State Nittany Lions were lifted to an 11-2 finish with a Rose Bowl win all said and done. Levis will likely have a better professional career than Clifford, but Sean Clifford was the better college quarterback.

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NEWS | Penn State legend Bobby Engram will coach Jahan Dotson in Washington

Engram will be coaching former Penn State standout Jahan Dotson in the NFL.



Penn State legend Bobby Engram
Jan 1, 1994; Orlando, FL, USA; FILE PHOTO; Penn State Nittany Lions receiver Bobby Engram (10) in action against the Tennessee Volunteers during the 1994 Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Photo By USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON D.C. — On Thursday, the Washington Commanders (NFL) hired Penn State legend Bobby Engram as their new wide receivers coach. Engram, who played for the Nittany Lions from 1991-1995, compiled over 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns during his time in State College on Joe Paterno’s roster. Engram was a part of Penn State’s Fiesta Bowl-winning team in 1991 and the Nittany Lions’ incredible 12-0 team in 1994.

Despite some incredible wide outs coming through State College over the years, Engram remains the only Penn State receiver with more than 3,000 career receiving yards.

Engram finished his college career with four bowl wins, a Big Ten title, and numerous top-5 finishes. Now, as a receivers coach at the game’s highest level, Engram will look to assist another Penn State legend to greatness. Jahan Dotson — who spent four years at Penn State from 2018 through 2021 — is a rising standout receiver on the Commanders’ roster, and could quickly develop into one of the league’s best under Engram’s direction.

Penn State legend Bobby Engram hired as WR coach in Washington

On Thursday, the Washington Commanders hired Penn State’s leader in career receiving yards and touchdowns, Bobby Engram, as their new wide receivers coach. This is a massive move for Engram and the Commanders, though will also have a large impact on former Nittany Lion Jahan Dotson, who was also an incredible wide out during his time in the Blue and White.

Dotson was Penn State’s top pass-catcher in 2020 and 2021, and despite the Nittany Lions having two down years, Dotson managed to become a first round NFL Draft pick. Now, the sky appears to be the limit for Dotson at the next level.

So far during Engram’s career, he has coached tight ends with John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens before jumping back to college ball, where he served as the offensive coordinator for the Wisconsin Badgers during the 2022 season. Seeing as the Badgers just had a regime change, Penn State legend Bobby Engram was on the market, and was picked up by the Commanders — Washington can use some offensive help, so the move is good for everyone involved.

Who better to coach a Penn State football legend (Jahan Dotson) than another Penn State legend (Bobby Engram)? We will find out, but chances are, this duo is about to be dangerous.

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 our Managing Editor at It’s due to your support that we can become one of the market’s fastest-growing Penn State sports outlets!

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How did the Nittany Lions fare in this year’s NFL Combine?

The Nittany Lions showed up and showed out for the NFL’s top scouts at the combine.



NFL Combine
© Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

Combine week has come and gone, which means draft season is in full swing. After a strong 2022 campaign and a massive Rose Bowl win, seven Nittany Lions were invited to participate in this year’s NFL Combine. Let’s take a look at how each Penn Stater fared over the last week. 

PJ Mustipher, defensive tackle

  • Height – 6’4”
  • Weight – 320 lbs.
  • Arm – 32 ¼” 
  • Hand – 9” 
  • 40-yd Dash – 5.41 sec. (1.88 10-yd split) 
  • Vertical Jump – 27.5”
  • Broad Jump – 8’0”
  • 3-Cone – 8.01 sec.
  • 20-yd Shuttle – 5.03 sec.
  • Bench – 19 reps

Musipher’s measurements were all above the average when put against the other defensive linemen participating; however, he ranked in the lower percentile when it came to the on-field NFL Combine tests. His 40 time ranked 15th in his group, with his 10-yard split ranking 14th. He ranked 9th in his 20-yd shuttle time. 

Joey Porter Jr., cornerback

  • Height – 6’2 ½”
  • Weight – 193 lbs.
  • Arm – 34”
  • Hand – 10”
  • 40-yd Dash – 4.46 sec. (1.5 10-yd split) 
  • Vertical Jump – 35”
  • Broad Jump – 10’9”
  • Bench – 17 reps

Many analysts project that Penn State standout corner Joey Porter Jr. will be one of the first corners off the board, with most projections having him going in the mid-first round. Though his projections are high, some would’ve expected him to perform better in the on-field tests. His vertical ranked 18th among corners, while his broad jump ranked 12th. Despite this, he is still ranked as one of the top prospects, coming in with the 9th best prospect grade of 81. 

Ji’Ayir Brown, safety

  • Height – 5’11”
  • Weight – 203 lbs.
  • Arm – 31 ¼”
  • Hand – 10 ⅛”
  • 40-yd Dash – 4.65 sec. (1.56 10-yd split) 
  • Vertical Jump – 32.5”
  • Broad Jump – 9’11”
  • Bench – 18 reps

Brown performed really well in the on-field tests during the NFL Combine, ranking highly in many categories. His bench ranked 7th among safeties and his 10-yard split ranked 12th. His Next Gen Stats production score of 89 is the highest amongst all safeties, and his prospect grade has him ranked 2nd. 

Parker Washington, wide receiver

  • Height – 5’10”
  • Weight – 204 lbs.
  • Arm – 29”
  • Hand – 10 ⅛”
  • Bench – 16 reps

Washington did not participate in any of the on-field drills during combine week, as he is still working on healing from the injury he sustained towards the end of the 2022 season. He still participated in the bench, ranking 8th among receivers. 

Mitchell Tinsley, wide receiver

  • Height – 6’0”
  • Weight – 199 lbs. 
  • Arm – 32 ⅜”
  • Hand – 10”
  • 40-yd Dash – 4.60 sec. (1.53 10-yd split) 
  • Vertical Jump – 35.5”
  • Broad Jump – 10’0”
  • 20-yd Shuttle – 4.21 sec. 
  • Bench – 14 reps

Tinsley, who transferred to Penn State from Western Kentucky in 2022, had a good showing during the NFL Combine. His 20-yard shuttle ranked 5th among receivers, and his bench ranked 10th. 

Brenton Strange, tight end

  • Height – 6’4”
  • Weight – 253 lbs.
  • Arm – 31 ⅛”
  • Hand – 9 ⅝”
  • 40-yd Dash – 4.70 sec. (1.57 10-yd split) 
  • Vertical Jump – 36”
  • Broad Jump – 10’4”
  • 3-Cone – 7.25 sec.
  • 20-yd Shuttle – 4.46 sec.
  • Bench – 23 reps

Strange’s numbers in the on-field drills definitely caught people’s eye. His draft-stock was definitely raised after his 40 time, and a 10-yard split ranked second among tight ends. His 23 reps in the bench was tied for 1st among tight ends, tying with Old Dominion’s Zack Kuntz, who transferred there from Penn State in 2021. 

Juice Scruggs, center

  • Height – 6’3”
  • Weight – 301 lbs.
  • Arm – 33 ¼”
  • Hand – 10 ¼”
  • 40-yd Dash – 5.22 sec. (1.79 10-yd split) 
  • Vertical Jump – 32”
  • Broad Jump – 8’6”
  • 3-Cone – 7.75 sec.
  • 20-yd Shuttle – 4.82 sec. 
  • Bench – 29 reps

Scruggs performed well during Sunday’s on-field tests. His numbers were among the average for  offensive linemen. His athleticism definitely caught people’s eye, with his Next Gen Stats athleticism score of 78 ranking 2nd among centers. His vertical ranked 6th among OL. His 29 reps on the bench was tied for fourth among offensive linemen, tying with Michigan’s Olu Oluwatimi and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. 

Overall, the Nittany Lions were well-represented and performed well during the NFL Combine. All of Penn State’s draft prospects will have another opportunity to wow teams and scouts at the Penn State Pro Day — the date is still TBA. Other prospects that will get an opportunity to show off their skills at Pro Day, who were not invited to the combine, include kicker Jake Pinegar, defensive end Nick Tarburton, and quarterback Sean Clifford.

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 our Managing Editor at It’s due to your support that we can become one of the market’s fastest-growing Penn State sports outlets!

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