‘The whole class is great.’ Meet some of the Penn State football newcomer standouts

·3 min read

Penn State football coach James Franklin’s opening statement after the latest installment of the Blue-White game lasted about 2 1/2 minutes, giving the ninth-year man enough time to itemize where the Nittany Lions were and where they were going.

That included about 50 seconds on the program’s 2022 recruiting class, ranked as one of the 10 best in the country. It was the second-highest-rated class Franklin brought in, behind the 2018 class headlined by linebacker Micah Parsons.

“We probably have more new guys showing up on campus that have a chance to impact the roster as freshmen than maybe we’ve ever had,” Franklin said.

That belief seemingly didn’t change in the following months as the team barreled toward fall practices and an opener at Purdue. Some freshman may redshirt, others may play sparingly and other may star.

But the group, along with incoming transfers, are set to contribute.

“This freshman class is amazing with how ready they are physically and mentally as players. These guys are good. I’m glad I’m getting out before they get a little too old to take my spot,” senior safety Ji’Ayir Brown said during Media Day. “That’s how good these guys are. I’m extremely proud of them guys. It’s all of them. The whole class is great.”

Here are some of the players that have caught the attention of their peers, as well as their coaches.

Wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley

Franklin described the 6-foot-1, 206-pound receiver as “super mature” and someone who “understands some of the things that maybe the young guys don’t understand.”

A chief example? His roommate is quarterback Sean Clifford — a “smart move,” Frankin said.

He came to Penn State after a standout season at Western Kentucky, racking up 87 receptions for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was named a second-team All-Conference USA selection.

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich isn’t afraid to toss the ball around, giving Tinsley an opportunity to step up in the Big Ten.

“I think he’s got a chance to have a really, really productive year. Kind of all the things we’ve talked about is, kind of how he is as a player. He’s dependable. He’s got really good ball skills and toughness and maturity,” Franklin said. “I think he’s one of those guys that you’re going to know what you’re getting pretty much week in, week out from him.”

Penn State wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley runs a drill during the first day of practice on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.
Penn State wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley runs a drill during the first day of practice on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.

Defensive end Chop Robinson

Robinson transferred after his freshman season at Maryland, where he played as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He’ll have his hand in the ground and face offensive tackles nearly every snap in Penn State’s 4-3 defense.

“He’s quick, explosive, fast and has flashed several times, not only sitting in the defensive meetings but the offensive coaches are talking about him as well,” Franklin said.

Running back Nick Singleton

The team’s most talented running back since Saquon Barkley was described by Yurcich as a “special talent” and “very gifted runner.” He could take the mantle as Penn State’s best offensive player.

And Franklin has yearned for more production from the team’s running backs. The program hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher in the past 16 games and ranked 13th in rushing last season in the Big Ten.

Penn State running back Nicholas Singleton runs with the ball during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.
Penn State running back Nicholas Singleton runs with the ball during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.

Centre Daily Times reporters Jon Sauber and Kyle J. Andrews contributed to this report.