A Penn State Wild Dog’s Mentality
It’s hard to believe that heading into the spring, defensive tackle was a question mark. There were some unknowns after Kevin Givens decided to take off for the NFL, as did defensive end Shareef Miller; although not totally unexpected on his part. It didn’t take long to figure out how deep our rotation could go. Since then, it’s become evident to everyone watching that Coach Chaos has finally assembled a collection of beasts along the D-Line. If I were a betting man, I’d say by seasons end, this crew just might drop the "Wild" and turn themselves into the "Alpha Dogs" instead.
Inside at D-Tackle, senior Rob ‘The Wild Child from Wiscy' Windsor returns for one more go. His play towards the end of 2018 was starting to remind some of the legendary Matt Millen, myself included, and the sting of losing him to a suspension in the Citrus Bowl was clearly felt. Beside Windsor is Ohio-native Antonio Shelton, who brings an intensity and passion to the position that Givens never seemed to possess. PJ Mustifer saw plenty of action as a true freshman and will be pushing hard to be a major force in the rotation along with Fred Hansard (coming off a knee injury), Damion Barber, Aeneas Hawkins, Nick Tarburton, and Judge Culpeper. True freshman Joseph Darkwa from Germany literally landed on campus and hit the ground running according to James Franklin.
Out on the edge, it all begins with preseason All-American Yetur Gross-Matos who has first-round draft pick written all over him. What's on tap to fill Miller’s shoes on the other side is a collection of blazing speed unlike anything college football has seen in the trenches and that’s not a misprint. Shaka Toney leads the way but just as close behind sits Jayson Oweh, Shane Simmons (eager to shed the injury that has hindered the defensive stud of the Class of 2016) and Daniel Joseph. Like Darkwa, true freshman Adisa Issacc has come in and made a play in this year's rotation as well.
It’s been five years since Sean Spencer, a master at his craft, strolled into Happy Valley and laid down the law. The Wild Dogs have woven their way into our tapestry ever since LJ, Spencer’s predecessor, headed you know where. Although there have been glimpses of brilliance here and there, the art of Chaos has remained a work in progress. brick by brick. What we finally have in 2019 is a full-fledged ‘Dog’s Mentality’ along the D-Line thanks to him and I pity the opponents that fall victim to their bite.