UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — Penn State finished the season 10-2, but it was defined by Penn State’s freshman. While much of this highly touted class surrounded five star quarterback Drew Allar, it was mostly players not named Allar that stole the show. 2022 became the year of the Penn State freshmen.
“This class probably has had a greater initial impact than any freshmen class Penn State’s had,” said Penn State play by play announcer Steve Jones.
Several players became household names. Running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen both made history by breaking Noah Cain’s Penn State freshman record for touchdowns and they became the first Big Ten freshman duo to eclipse 700 rushing yards in a season. Singleton was also named the Big Ten Freshman Of The Year.
“These are two great running backs. I mean, Singleton, everyone sees the speed. You saw the burst against Auburn, the long touchdown runs,” Jones said. “But he showed as the season went, how physically tough he is running between the tackles how difficult he is now to bring down compared to September, how we carried guys into the end zone on a touchdown run.”
Both running backs compliment each other very well.
“He (Allen) is very patient back there and he’ll wait for that gap like I was talking about, to hit and I’d say Singleton is kind of like a bottle rocket,” said senior Bryce Effner. “Like you just kind of point them in the direction you want him to run.”
But this class is much more than a pair of running backs. Drew Shelton filled in at left tackle after Olu Fashanu got injured. Defensively Dani Dennis-Sutton played in nine games while recording three sacks and an interception, and linebacker Abdul Carter was one of the top freshman in the country leading all freshman in sacks with 6.5 and led the Big Ten in tackles for loss.
“He’s forcing hurried throws He’s become better in the pass game,” said Jones. “He is, you know, he’s got people around him that allows him to excel. But now he’s starting to make people around him better. And he’s just been a terrific player.”
In February 247 Sports ranked this recruiting class as the sixth best in the nation and it was billed as James Franklin’s strongest, something it backed up.
“I played as a true freshman, but, you know, the type of success, the things these guys are doing, just being freshmen is, you know, I wish I had if we had a success my freshman year,” said senior P.J. Mustipher. “But these guys are all ball, man. They put in the work. You know, they’re they’re humble at the same time with all their success.”
Penn State has had great recruiting classes, but none have made the impact this one made from day one.
“There been other classes that have come in that have achieved a lot over the course of their time? But in terms of the first season, we had so many contribute and in such big ways. I can’t think of a freshmen class that has done more than this one as they were inserted into big roles right away.”