Penn State 2021 Roster Tracker: Who's in, Who's Out?

Penn State's offseason is underway, and with that comes roster change. We're tracking the moves here.
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Penn State's offseason continues through the spring, and with that comes roster change. We'll track the moves here as decisions are announced.

This will include NFL Draft declarations, transfer decisions and 2021 opt-outs. Remember, every player on the 2020 roster is eligible to return for 2021, though obviously not all will.

Defensive end Shane Simmons, who had decided to end his career after the 2020 season, is returning to football. Simmons announced that he will enter the NCAA Transfer Portal seeking to play elsewhere next season.

"... I've done a lot soul searching and realized that my love and passion for football is still there and my ultimate dream is still to play in the NFL," he wrote in a Twitter post.

Simmons made his first career start at Penn State's Senior Day game last December, making 1.5 sacks against Michigan State.

Freshman cornerback Joseph Johnson III has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, according to the Rivals.com tracker. Johnson, who did not play last season, was a 3-star prospect in the 2020 class, according to ESPN and Rivals. The Richmond, Va., native has four years of eligibility remaining.

Tight end Zack Kuntz, who entered the NCAA Transfer Portal this winter, announced that he will play for Old Dominion next season. Kuntz reunites with former offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne.

Kuntz, a 6-7 redshirt sophomore, played in seven games last season but did not make a reception. He had three catches over his three seasons at Penn State. Kuntz entered the 2020 season with hopes of forming a "dynamic duo" at the position with Pat Freiermuth.

Cornerback Donovan Johnson, who struggled with injuries during his career, will not return to the team in 2021. Johnson is not listed on the team's updated roster, and coach James Franklin said the decision was Johnson's.

"I know it was difficult for Donovan Johnson to step away from his playing career, but ultimately this is what's best for him," Franklin said in a statement. "We are excited to still have him as a major part of our program as he continues to work towards his Penn State degree."

Johnson, who was a redshirt junior in 2020, played in two games over the past two seasons and none last year. The Detroit native was a promising defensive back in 2018, when he appeared in 12 games as a redshirt freshman. He played in early games against Buffalo and Pitt in 2019 but did not take the field again after that.

Former quarterback Will Levis, who entered the NCAA Transfer Portal in January, announced that he will transfer to Kentucky. He will play for head coach Mark Stoops, who has been with the Wildcats since 2013.

Penn State officially welcomed its 27 members of the 2021 recruiting class on National Signing Day. The group includes Davon Townley, the program's newest signee, and 11 players who will be preferred run-ons. With Townley's commitment, Penn State cracked the top 25 of SI All-American's final recruiting rankings for 2021.

In one of the most high-profile decisions to date, quarterback Will Levis announced that he will enter the NCAA Transfer Portal. Levis, who started one game last season, will enter as a graduate student with three years of eligibility. If he leaves, Levis would become the third quarterback to transfer from Penn State in under a year.

Linebacker Lance Dixon, a redshirt freshman who played in all 10 games last season, has entered his name in the NCAA Transfer Portal. Dixon started one game, against Ohio State, at outside linebacker, making a career-best five tackles and forcing a fumble.

Penn State added its fifth player from the NCAA Transfer Portal, as offensive lineman Eric Wilson announced plans to join the team. Wilson, an All-Ivy League lineman at Harvard, will enroll as a graduate transfer. He's an important addition to the middle of Penn State's line, considering the losses of Michal Menet, Will Fries and CJ Thorpe.

Redshirt freshman receiver TJ Jones entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, according to Blue-White Illustrated. Jones, from Lake City, Fla., played in seven games last season but did not make a reception. He was a three-star recruit in the 2019 class and one of two receivers from Florida, joining John Dunmore. Both have entered the portal.

Freshman quarterback Micah Bowens, a two-time state champ at Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High, quickly joined Oklahoma's roster after entering the NCAA Transfer Portal. Bowens became the second Penn State quarterback to transfer from the program in less than a year. Michael Johnson, Jr., a 2019 commit, enrolled at Florida Atlantic last fall.

Safety Lamont Wade declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, opting not to use his fifth season of eligibility at Penn State. Wade made 22 consecutive starts the past two seasons and punctuated his career with a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Illinois. Wade is the sixth player from the Lions' 2020 roster to enter the draft.

Rasheed Walker, a two-year starter at left tackle, announced that he will return in 2021. Walker has started 22 consecutive games over the past two seasons and will anchor a line that lost starters Michal Menet and Will Fries. Walker, who just completed his redshirt sophomore season, is draft-eligible in 2021 but also has three seasons of college eligibility remaining. 

Senior safety Jaquan Brisker announced that he will return in 2021, bolstering a secondary that could be among the Big Ten's best. Brisker was a Pro Football Focus All-American, primarily because he was graded as the position's best-tackling player in the country.

Offensive lineman Michal Menet joined teammate and linemate Will Fries in making a quiet transition to his professional career. Menet told the Reading (Pa.) Eagle that he is training in Florida in preparation for the NFL Draft. Menet was a three-year starter, a two-time captain, for the Lions.

Receiver Jahan Dotson, who led the Big Ten in receiving yards and was the offense's big-play driver, announced that he will return in 2021. Dotson, a three-year starter, is eligible to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. He ended a superb junior season by becoming the first Penn State receiver with two catches of 70+ yards in one game.

Former defensive tackle Judge Culpepper, who entered the NCAA Transfer Portal in December, announced that he is transferring to Toledo. Culpepper reunites with his former Plant City (Fla). High coach Robert Weiner, who is Toledo's co-offensive coordinator.

Offensive lineman CJ Thorpe, who started eight games at right guard the past two seasons, announced that he will enter the NCAA Transfer Portal this spring as a graduate student. Thorpe said he plans to pursue a new opportunity as a defensive lineman, a position played at Penn State in 2018.

Thorpe, a redshirt junior and academic All-Big Ten honoree, started the first three games this season and did not play the last three. He will have two seasons of eligibility remaining. His father Chris played for Penn State in the 1980s.

Former defensive tackle Antonio Shelton announced that he will transfer to Florida. Shelton, a graduate transfer, made 22 career starts over three seasons at Penn State. He is the second former Lion, joining receiver Justin Shorter, to transfer to Florida in as many seasons.

Cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, a 2019 All-Big Ten player whose senior season was shortened by medical reasons, announced that he will return in 2021. Castro-Fields was expected to be a significant player on Penn State's defense but played in just the first three games. He also had accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl in January. His return helps boost a secondary that already brings back starting cornerbacks Joey Porter, Jr. and Keaton Ellis.

Former Temple defensive end Arnold Ebiketie, a second-team all-conference selection, announced that he will transfer to Penn State. Ebiketie had a big season for Temple, making 42 tackles (8.5 for losses) in just six games. He was a second-team All-American Athletic Conference selection. Ebiketie became the fourth player to announce join Penn State's roster from the NCAA Transfer Portal. 

Offensive lineman Will Fries told Lions247 that he will enter the 2021 NFL Draft instead of using a sixth season of eligibility. Fries, a fifth-year senior, was Penn State's most experienced player, having started 42 games over four seasons. He played multiple positions, starting the season's final six games at right guard. Fries likely projects at guard in the NFL.

Derrick Tangelo, a four-year defensive tackle from Duke, announced plans to transfer to Penn State. Tangelo will help fill the gap opened by the departure of two-year starter Antonio Shelton.

Defensive end Shaka Toney announced that he will enter the 2021 NFL draft. Toney, a first-team All-Big Ten pick, led the team with 7.5 sacks.

Toney, a four-year player for the Lions, had a productive career, finishing with 29.5 tackles for loss. He became the second defensive end to declare for the draft, joining Jayson Oweh.

Former South Carolina defensive back John Dixon will transfer to Penn State after two seasons with the Gamecocks. Dixon played in 22 games for South Carolina, starting nine, and made 37 career tackles. His transfer confirmed Penn State's plan to be active in the transfer market for defensive backs.

Defensive end Jayson Oweh declared himself eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft. Oweh, who just finished his redshirt sophomore year, would have had three seasons of eligibility remaining, according to NCAA rules. 

Antonio Shelton, a fifth-year senior and two-year starter, became the second defensive tackle to enter his name in the portal. Shelton, who graduated in December 2019, is among Penn State’s most experienced defensive players with 22 career starts.

A Columbus, Ohio, native, Shelton delivered the pregame defensive line breakdown the past two seasons. He is a 23-year-old veteran who was among the defense’s core leaders.

Shelton posted a letter on Twitter in which he wrote, "My time here has been wonderful, but now I feel like it is time to step out on faith. God is pushing me in a different direction, and I have to listen."

Defensive tackle Judge Culpepper entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal. Culpepper, a redshirt sophomore, played in all nine games this season, making five tackles. His brother Rex played quarterback at Syracuse.

Tight end Pat Freiermuth announced that he will enter the 2021 NFL draft, a decision expected even before the season. Despite playing just four games, ending his season because of a shoulder injury that required surgery, Freiermuth was named the Big Ten tight end of the year.

Defensive end Shane Simmons elected to pursue his passion in the business world rather than return for a sixth year at Penn State. Simmons made his first career start on Senior Day against Michigan State, finishing with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks.

James Franklin entered the transfer market quickly, bringing in former Baylor running back John Lovett. A graduate transfer, Lovett started 20 games over four years at Baylor, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

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