Penn State's football roster continues to change after the Rose Bowl, as the NCAA Transfer Portal remains open and coaches recruit toward the second signing period in February. Though it won't be as hectic as December, change will come.
But as coach James Franklin said recently, "It's all of the progress that you can make the other 364 days a year that add up. All those little wins add up all year long to put your team in the best position to be successful consistently on Saturdays."
Roster-building never sleeps, which makes it so fascinating to watch. We're tracking Penn State's roster and staff changes here while also trying to contextualize them.
Keep it here for the latest on Penn State's roster changes.
Defensive Tackle Enters the Transfer Portal
Fatorma Mulbah, a academic All-Big Ten defensive tackle from Harrisburg, entered the portal after the Rose Bowl. Mulbah announced his decision on social media.
"The past three years at Penn State have been truly transformative," he said.
What It Means: Mulbah, who has three seasons of eligibility remaining, played primarily on special teams. Penn State's tackle rotation included starter Hakeem Beamon, while Dvon Ellies, Coziah Izzard, Zane Durant and Jordan van den Berg. Franklin also has said he's looking for tackles in the portal.
Rose Bowl Win Yields Transfer Receiver
Barely an hour after its 35-21 win over Utah in the Rose Bowl, Penn State picked up a commitment from a transfer receiver. Devin Carter, who spent five seasons at N.C. State, joined Penn State as a graduate transfer. He has one season of eligibility remaining.
What It Means: Franklin made clear his team's need for immediate-impact receivers in 2023. Carter is experienced but missed three games with injuries last season. If healthy, he can contribute veteran snaps.
Brenton Strange Declares for the NFL Draft
After a terrific season in which he was named All-Big Ten, tight end Brenton Strange will enter the 2023 NFL Draft. Strange announced his decision in Los Angeles before the Rose Bowl.
"I couldn't be more thankful to have called State College home for the last four years," Strange said in a social media post.
Strange, named third-team all-conference. will forgo his final season of eligibility after being an offensive stalwart for three years. Strange started 30 games, including all 25 over the past two years. He delivered some of Penn State's highlight plays of 2022, including a 67-yard touchdown catch that ignited the team's season-opening win over Purdue.
What It Means: Strange is a veteran whose presence certainly would be impactful next season. But he also has played a lot of college football and is ready for the next phase. NFL Draft Bible doesn't list Strange among its top 2023 tight ends (teammate Theo Johnson is No. 13), but Strange will make a difference in the NFL.
Lions Land First Player From the Portal
Did you expect Penn State's first transfer portal commit to be a punter? Riley Thompson made that happen. Thompson, a freshman all-American at Florida Atlantic, announced that he will transfer to Penn State.
Thompson, an Australian who plays the national game Australian Rules Football, began punting during the 2020 pandemic shutdowns. He connected with Prokick Australia, a kicking academy, and found a roster spot at FAU, where Thompson ranked 10th nationally in punt average (45.7 yards) this season. He was named to The Athletic's Freshman All-America team as a first-year punter in the U.S. However, according to The Athletic, Thompson has one year of eligibility remaining, because his eligibility clock began in Australia.
What It Means: Thompson is a fascinating addition to a Penn State roster looking to replace punter Barney Amor. The Lions will have two scholarship punters, having added Alex Bacchetta last season. Bacchetta was Kohl's Kicking's No. 1 punter of the 2022 recruiting cycle.
Christian Veilleux Chooses Pitt
Former Penn State quarterback Christian Veilleux announced that he will transfer to Pitt next season. Veilleux spent two seasons at Penn State, playing in three games this past season. He has three years of eligibility remaining. Franklin said he hoped Veilleux would stay at Penn State but knew the quarterback likely wouldn't after freshman Drew Allar won the No. 2 job this season.
What It Means: Veilleux is transferring into a unique situation at Pitt. The Panthers already received a commitment from transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who previously played for Boston College and Notre Dame. Jurkovec has one season of eligibility remaining, though Veilleux certainly could challenge for the starting job next season.
Nick Tarburton to Play in Rose Bowl Before Draft
Defensive end Nick Tarburton announced that he will play in the Rose Bowl before entering the 2023 NFL Draft. Tarburton, a fifth-year senior who made 5.5 tackles for loss this season, was eligible for a bonus COVID season. Instead, he will enter the draft.
What It Means: Tarburton has played a lot of football at Penn State; the Rose Bowl will be his 35th game. So his decision isn't surprising. The position looks strong with Chop Robinson, Adisa Isaac (should he return), Dani Dennis-Sutton, Zuriah Fisher, Smith Vilbert (who did not play this season) and Jake Wilson. In addition, Penn State might play linebacker Abdul Carter off the edge situationally as well.
Parker Washington Declares for NFL Draft
Receiver Parker Washington became the second Penn State player to enter the 2023 NFL Draft. Washington, the team's leading receiver despite missing the last two games, joined cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Neither will play in the Rose Bowl.
What It Means: Washington is a sixth-round prospect, according to NFL Draft Bible, which means he has some work to do this offseason. However, NFL Draft Bible adds that Washington will appeal more to coaches than scouts, which could provide a pre-draft boost. Having expected this decision, the Lions have made receiver a priority in the Transfer Portal.
Davon Townley Jr. Enters the Transfer Portal
Davon Townley Jr., a redshirt freshman defensive lineman, became the latest Penn State player to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal. Townley, from Minnesota, played in five games for the Lions.
What It Means: Townley is the fourth player, and second defensive lineman, of Penn State's 2021 recruiting class to enter the portal. He was the No. 3 recruit in Minnesota, according to ESPN, and a versatile prospect on the defensive line. He leaves with three seasons of eligibility.
Rodney McGraw Enters the Transfer Portal
Defensive tackle Rodney McGraw, a redshirt freshman in 2022, entered his name into the portal. McGraw, who played high school football in Elkhart, Indiana, played in three games, most recently against Minnesota.
What It Means: Penn State elevated other defensive linemen this season, leading McGraw to say "it's in my best interest" to transfer. He will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Cornerback Jeffrey Davis Jr. Enters the Transfer Portal
Jeffrey Davis, Jr., a redshirt freshman cornerback who played in one game this season, entered the portal. Davis, from Bristol, Connecticut, will have three years of eligibility remaining.
What It Means: Penn State returns skilled cornerbacks in Kalen King, Johnny Dixon, Daequan Hardy and Marquis Wilson, all of whom are experienced. The defense also is bringing in some talented defensive backs in the 2023 recruiting class and is targeting top corners in the portal. The Lions are being aggressive at this position and certainly expect some turnover.
Joey Porter Jr. Declares for NFL Draft
Penn State's first-team, all-Big Ten cornerback unsurprisingly will enter the 2023 NFL Draft. He is a projected first-round pick, according to NFL Draft Bible, and one of the best corners in Penn State history.
What It Means: Porter, who missed two games with appendicitis, will forgo Penn State's bowl game. Here's a question to consider: Does Porter hold more value to Penn State by playing limited bowl snaps or by becoming the program's first defensive back drafted in the first round?
Christian Veilleux to Transfer
Quarterback Christian Veilleux, who hoped to compete for a starting spot this season, has transferred to Pitt. Veilleux played in three games as the No. 3 quarterback behind Sean Clifford and Drew Allar.
What It Means: The Lions will be young at quarterback next season, with Allar, Beau Pribula and incoming freshman Jaxon Smolik filling the room as its only position players. Recruiting a scholarship quarterback from the portal is probably a luxury, and what quarterback would transfer specifically to be a backup. Penn State could manage with preferred walk-ons. Meanwhile, how about Veilleux reuniting with Brent Pry and offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen at Virginia Tech?
Olu Fashanu Returns to Penn State's Line
Left tackle Olu Fashanu delayed a potentially huge NFL payday to return to Penn State for another season. Fashanu, one of the nation's top-ranked tackles according to Pro Football Focus, was NFL Draft Bible's No. 10 overall prospect of the 2023 draft cycle. He missed the last four games with an injury that likely will sideline him for the bowl game as well.
What It Means: Penn State has an elite-level left tackle protecting its franchise quarterback in Drew Allar. Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is mad-sciencing how he can deploy Allar, his backfield and a bunch of young receivers knowing the blind side is secure.
Hunter Nourzad Announces Return
Nourzad became the first Lion to announce his return, doing so before the Penn State-Maryland game in November. Nourzad, who started the last seven games at guard, played through what Franklin called "bumps and bruises" much of the season.
What It Means: Nourzad, a former all-Ivy League lineman at Cornell, is a versatile player who could replace center Juice Scruggs next season, should Scruggs not return. He also will benefit from an offseason in Penn State's strength program.
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