Blue White Illustrated

September 2021

Penn State Sports Magazine

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3 8 S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M BY GREG PICKEL | GPIC92@GMAIL.COM P enn State's Class of 2017 — head coach James Franklin's first after winning a Big Ten championship — was rated No. 12 nationally by Of the Nittany Lions' 21 signees, eight are still on the team (although Journey Brown is a student assistant due to a medical condition) and 13 have moved on. Here's a look at what each member of the group did or is doing: Damion Barber, DE Barber played 11 games over two seasons and posted two tackles. He transferred to Austin Peay before the 2020 season. Corey Bolds, DT Bolds transferred before his redshirt freshman season. He went to ASA Col lege and was reportedly set to join Rut- gers but is no longer with the Scarlet Knights. Ellis Brooks, LB Brooks has played in every game the past three seasons and made nine starts. He led the Nittany Lions in 2020 with 60 tackles (26 solo, 5.5 for loss) and could be the first-team middle linebacker this fall. Journey Brown, RB Brown came on strong at the end of the 2019 season, finishing with 901 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns, highlighted by a mesmerizing 202- yard, two-TD performance in the Nit- tany Lions' Cotton Bowl victory over Memphis. A rare heart condition ended his playing career, but he remains with the program in an off-field role. D.J. Brown, CB Brown played in only seven games in his three seasons at Penn State, fin- ishing with five tackles and a forced fumble in 2019. He later transferred to Louisiana Tech, appearing in four games last season, during which he made two tackles. Tariq Castro-Fields, CB An All-Big Ten pick in 2019 and 2020, Castro-Fields has made 106 career tackles (10 for loss) to go with a sack, three interceptions, 22 passes defended and a forced fumble in three seasons. After an injury limited his game action last fall, the Maryland na- tive opted to return for the 2021 season. Sean Clifford, QB A 20-game starter who enters his third season as QB1, the Ohio na- tive is one of 12 Nittany Lions to have surpassed 4,000 career passing yards (with 4,732 so far) and has a 41-to-16 touchdown-interception ratio. Clifford was an All-Big Ten pick in 2019 and ranks second in program history with a 60 percent career completion rate. Brelin Faison-Walden, LB Faison-Walden played in just one game during his two seasons at Penn State before transferring to UNC- Charlotte. He racked up 21 tackles with two starts in 2019 and also played in 2020. He is not on the 49ers' roster for a fifth college season. Brailyn Franklin, LB Franklin moved on to Sam Hous- ton State in 2018. There, he played 11 games and had 37 tackles (4.5 for loss) across two seasons. He is no longer on the team's roster. Yetur Gross-Matos, DE Gross-Matos was twice a first-team All-Big Ten pick and was a third-team Phil Steele All-American after a stellar junior season in 2019, after which he declared for the NFL Draft. His career line includes 111 stops (37 for loss), and his 19 sacks rank 10th in school history. A second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers, Gross-Matos is getting set to enter his second pro season. Sean Clifford enters his third season as a starter with 4,732 passing yards and 41 passing touchdowns in his career. PHOTO BY MARK SELDERS/PENN STATE ATHLETICS A BATTLE OF ATTRITION Injuries and transfers hinder a highly rated group Class of 2017 REVIEW

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