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Penn State Linebacker Abdul Carter Has a New Position

The All-Big Ten linebacker is listed at defensive end on the Nittany Lions' updated roster.

Abdul Carter, Penn State's two-time All-Big Ten linebacker who led the team in sacks as a freshman in 2022, is changing positions. According to the latest Penn State football roster update, Carter is listed as a defensive end, bringing a dynamic player to the Nittany Lions' defensive line.

Carter, who will be a junior in 2024, moves to an edge-rusher position where he could thrive. Penn State lost starting defensive ends Adisa Isaac and Chop Robinson, both draft prospects headed to the 2024 NFL Combine, and is looking for more disruptive players up front. New defensive coordinator Tom Allen has said he wants to put opposing quarterbacks under duress, forcing them to process a lot of pre-snap information against an aggressive defense. Carter at defensive end will accomplish that.

Big Ten coaches voted Carter as a first-team all-conference linebacker last season, after Carter made 45 tackles (5.5 for losses), broke up four passes and made his first career interception. Carter (6-3, 250 pounds) already carries a similar frame as former ends Robinson and Isaac current teammate Dani Dennis-Sutton (6-5, 260). He's comfortable rushing the passer and was expected to perform that role more last season. Though he finished with 4.5 sacks and five quarterback hurries, Carter played more of a traditional linebacker position, blitzing occasionally from the edge or inside.

Penn State coach James Franklin has called Carter "freakishly strong," and Carter is quite comfortable on the pass rush.

"I think I can play anything," Carter said last season. "I feel like my pass-rush ability is really second to none and I can play any position my coaches need me to play."

As Indiana's head coach, Allen deployed a defensive player at the position known as the "Bull," one that he had used at previous stops. It's a sort of hybrid outside linebacker/edge rusher spot that required a broad skillset: pass rush, edge contain in the run game and the ability to drop into pass coverage. Carter already has demonstrated those skills at Penn State.

If Carter plays a larger role at defensive end, Penn State could rotate more players through linebacker or play more nickel-back sets and use two linebackers on the field. The Nittany Lions lost linebacker Curtis Jacobs to the NFL but return experience with Kobe King, Tyler Elsdon and Dom DeLuca, along with rising sophomore Tony Rojas. The roster includes several young linebackers, notably redshirt freshmen Kaveion Keys and Ta'Mere Robinson.

In addition, the updated Penn State roster lists new positions for redshirt freshman Lamont Payne Jr., who switched from cornerback to safety, and redshirt sophomore Mehki Flowers, who moved from safety to receiver.

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the network.