Players leave Penn State football program at alarming rate, and there may be more to come

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
  • Sixteen Penn State football players have now left the program early.
  • Five players declared early for the NFL draft.
  • Eleven more have announced transfer plans or put their names in the transfer portal.
Penn State head football coach James Franklin has seen an alarmingly large number of players leave his program early since the end of the regular season. AP FILE PHOTO

A trend definitely seems to be emerging over at Penn State football’s Lasch Building.

Safety Ayron Monroe became the latest player to announce he was transferring, with a tweet late Tuesday afternoon that explained he will switch schools after graduating in the spring. He is the 16th Penn State player this offseason who intends to leave early. Two others — offensive lineman Alex Gellerstedt and tight end Danny Dalton — were also found on the transfer portal Tuesday, per a report from 247 Sports.

Eleven players have now either announced their transfers or submitted their names to the NCAA transfer portal. Five others declared early for the NFL draft.

Many of those departures were expected or unremarkable. But the sheer number of defections, coupled with several surprises, could certainly be a cause for concern with Penn State fans, and possibly even with head coach James Franklin.

Others who intend to transfer include linebacker Dae’lun Darien, wideout Juwan Johnson, safety Lamont Wade, cornerback Zech McPhearson, wideout Brandon Polk, offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins, safety Isaiah Humphries and linebacker Brelin Faison-Walden. Those who declared early for the NFL draft are running back Miles Sanders, offensive guard Connor McGovern, offensive tackle Ryan Bates, defensive tackle Kevin Givens and defensive end Shareef Miller.

Monroe, who has one season of eligibility remaining, appeared in 33 career games as a backup safety and special-teams contributor. He was expected to compete with incoming junior-college prospect Jaquan Brisker, along with Wade and Jonathan Sutherland, for the starting safety role vacated by Nick Scott next season. But, with the intended transfers of both Wade and Monroe, it now appears to be a clear battle between Brisker and Sutherland.

Monroe finished the 2018 season with 10 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery. In 2019, at worst, he likely would’ve been a No. 2 safety.

Gellerstedt was listed as a third-team offensive tackle but appeared in just one game this past season. And Dalton played in three games while earning a spot as the fourth-string TE.

There’s no telling when the Nittany Lions’ unusual offseason might end, with five more tight ends currently on scholarship, for example. So it might not be the end of the transfers just yet.