Penn State released an updated football roster Tuesday, and there were plenty of changes and surprises among returning players and recently arrived true freshmen.
Between a position switch, measurements for the new freshmen and some eye-popping gains from a few vets — cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields gained 16 pounds of muscle since February, for example — there were a number of changes to track.
Here’s a closer look:
RB CJ Holmes moves to safety: If you put a lot of stock into Sports Illustrated projections, such as the one that somehow pegged Holmes as the starting RB, this move likely came as a surprise. But it shouldn’t have. Running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider told PennLive last month that “there’s a chance he could move over to defense.”
“It’s not that he’s not good enough,” Seider added. “But that room is really good.”
With Ricky Slade, two top-10 freshman running backs and the spring hype of Journey Brown, it would’ve been challenging for the Notre Dame transfer and former four-star recruit to find touches in 2019 and beyond. On the flip side, there’s a lot more opportunity at safety.
As it stands, true freshman Tyler Rudolph and redshirt sophomore Jonathan Sutherland are the only underclassman safeties on scholarship — which means Holmes could have a Nick Scott-like path to defensive starter, even if current upperclassmen hold on to the starting jobs.
Holmes, who still has walk-on status, is just a redshirt sophomore.
Big offseason gains
Notable returning vets’ weight gain/loss: Let’s start out with the biggest change, from Castro-Fields. The roster from the Blue-White Game, for which measurements came sometime between February and April, listed Castro-Fields at 6-foot and 181 pounds. Now?
Try 197 pounds. A spokesperson also confirmed Tuesday the 16-pound weight gain was accurate.
Strength coach Dwight Galt has been lauded nationally year after year for what he’s been able to accomplish with his offseason program. He’s become a household name among watchers of the NFL Combine and, every year, a number of players take big steps physically. This offseason was no exception.
Although Castro-Fields was the biggest example, there were plenty of others. Here are a few of the biggest and/or most important:
LB Charlie Katshir: 15-pound gain (229 from 214)
DT PJ Mustipher: 11-pound gain (311 from 300)
OL Rasheed Walker: 10-pound gain (324 from 314)
DE Shane Simmons: 9-pound gain (259 from 250)
WR KJ Hamler: 8-pound gain (176 from 168)
DE Shaka Toney: 7-pound gain (243 from 236)
S Lamont Wade: 7-pound gain (199 from 192)
CB John Reid: 8-pound loss (181 from 189)
OL CJ Thorpe: 8-pound loss (322 from 330)
OL Juice Scruggs: 9-pound loss (285 from 294)
OL Mike Miranda: 16-pound loss (295 from 311)
Notable early enrollees’ weight gain/loss:
TE Brenton Strange: 11-pound gain (233 from 222)
CB Keaton Ellis: 10-pound gain (190 from 180)
LB Brandon Smith: 9-pound gain (240 from 231)
DE Adisa Isaac: 9-pound gain (241 from 232)
True freshmen measurements/jersey numbers
Twelve freshmen enrolled after the spring semester, and their official measurements and jersey numbers were revealed Tuesday with the unveiling of the roster.
Five of those 12 saw huge gains compared to where Penn State reported their weights Feb. 7 after signing day. Most notably, offensive lineman Caedan Wallace has gained 42 pounds since then; he’s now at 333 pounds, up from a reported 291. Other big changes: Safety Jaquan Brisker is up 20 pounds from his 190-pound weight, DT Dvon Ellies increased his weight 16 pounds from 288, and both DE Smith Vilbert and CB Daequan Hardy added 10 pounds each.
Here’s an overall look at the current heights/weights:
DE Hakeem Beamon: 6-foot-3, 259 pounds (Jersey No. 51)
S Jaquan Brisker: 6-foot-1, 210 pounds (Jersey No. 7)
DT Joseph Darkwa: 6-5, 272 (Jersey No. 44)
WR John Dunmore 6-1, 179 (Jersey No. 8)
DT Dvon Ellies 6-1, 304 (Jersey No. 72)
RB Devyn Ford 5-11, 194 (Jersey No. 28)
CB Daequan Hardy 5-9 170 (Jersey No. 25)
WR TJ Jones 6-1 196 (Jersey No. 10)
DB Joey Porter Jr 6-2 180 (Jersey No. 9)
DE Smith Vilbert 6-6 253 (Jersey No. 92)
OL Caedan Wallace 6-5 333 (Jersey No. 79)
OL Sal Wormley 6-3 319 (Jersey No. 77)
Gone from PSU
Tight end Jon Holland was officially taken off the roster Tuesday. But he hasn’t been a part of team activities since at least the spring.
Despite being listed on the Blue-White Game roster, he was spotted tailgating outside Beaver Stadium during the scrimmage. And he was never seen at any spring practices open to the media.
He had seven catches for 114 yards last year and, at best, he would’ve been the No. 3 TE this season. The fifth-year senior remains listed in the Penn State directory.