Penn State backup defensive tackle Fred Hansard suffered a season-ending injury in Saturday’s game, according to coach James Franklin, in another blow to the depth on the interior of the defensive line.
Hansard appeared to injure his left leg in the second quarter against Michigan State when another player rolled up on him. The nature of the injury is not known.
“I won’t get into the specifics of it, but Fred will be done for the season,” Franklin said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “He had to undergo a surgery and will be done for the season.”
Hansard spent the season backing up starters Robert Windsor and Kevin Givens. He played in all six games and registered two tackles and half of a tackle for loss on the season.
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The redshirt freshman appeared to know his injury was season-ending by Saturday night. He tweeted within two hours of the game ending, “This is just a minor setback, I will be back stronger than ever.”
He also tweeted Sunday, ”I wanna thank my brothers on this team and my parents for keeping me sane. It’s been a hard couple of days but I know God has a plan for me.”
Hansard’s injury comes at a difficult time for the Nittany Lions. Franklin and the coaching staff were concerned about the depth at the position so much that they moved offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe to defensive tackle just two weeks ago — although the plan there is to move him back to offense at the end of the season.
His isn’t the only injury. Fellow defensive tackle Ellison Jordan, the understudy to Hansard, shared his frustration last Wednesday over playing with injuries. In since-deleted tweets, Jordan said, “Coach gets mad because he thinks I’m not just running hard but my knee was (sic) feeling right trying to run back.”
Redshirt sophomore Antonio Shelton is the Nittany Lions’ top backup option. And Franklin said he expects true freshman P.J. Mustipher to step up — “P.J.’s going to have to grow up fast,” he said — and redshirt freshman Damion Barber will also have to play a role now.
“I know all the guys and the families and the coaches and the parents are very supportive of Fred,” Franklin added, “but he will be unavailable for the rest of the season.”
Said linebacker Koa Farmer: “Fred does a great job at holding his gap. He’s a bigger dude. He does a great job.”