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Projected Defensive Starter Likely Out for the Season

Adisa Isaac, who was poised for a breakout season at defensive end, will miss "significant time" due to an offseason injury.

Penn State defensive end Adisa Isaac could miss the 2021 season because of an offseason injury, potentially leaving the defense without one of its top returning defensive players.

Coach James Franklin said Saturday at the team's media day that Isaac, a projected starter, "most likely" will not be available this season. Isaac sustained an undisclosed injury unrelated to football training, Franklin said.

"Adisa's been phenomenal in terms of what he needs to do [potentially to play]," Franklin said. "You never know, but he will be out for a significant amount of time."

Isaac played in all nine games last season as a sophomore, making 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He debuted as a true freshman in 2019, announcing his presence by making 2.5 tackles (including 1.5 sacks) and forcing a fumble.

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Isaac (6-4, 244 pounds) drew raves from teammates and coaches for his maturity and athleticism. Former Penn State end Odafe Oweh called Isaac a "freak" and marveled at his approach to the game.

"His get-off [at the line] is crazy," Oweh said last year. "He's twitchy, strong and explosive. And he's very mature. I've never seen a kid that young be that mature."

Penn State's defensive line already was retooling itself, having lost five major contributors (including three starters) to the NFL or the NCAA Transfer Portal. Isaac and Nick Tarburton were the only returning letterwinners at defensive end.

Penn State reached into the portal to find line help, getting end Arnold Ebiketie from Temple and tackle Derrick Tangelo from Duke. Ebiketie, an all-conference player at Temple, becomes an even bigger player on the Lions' line now.

The Lions also could look to move some players outside. Franklin has said that Jesse Luketa, who has started 10 games at linebacker the past two seasons, will play defensive end as well. Franklin announced that move this past spring, likely considering that Isaac could miss the season.