The landscape of college football is as different now than it has ever been before.
Those differences include postseason implications, new conference alignments and eligibility for transfers.
With the extra “coronavirus year” of eligibility in place and minimal penalties for switching programs, schools are now treating the NCAA transfer portal as if it was NFL free agency.
Penn State took full advantage of that rule this season, as it got important contributions from players like Arnold Ebiketie, who ended up as a first-team All-Big Ten player.
This offseason, Penn State once again has some holes to fill on its roster, so it’s time to start looking at who could fit with James Franklin’s program.
Here are some names to look out for who have already entered the portal.
Tiyon Evans, running back
It is safe to say that Penn State had its fair share of running back issues in 2021.
After being touted as one of the deepest positional groups on the team, the Nittany Lion backs really struggled to get going this season.
In fact, the group did not boast a single 100-yard rusher in any game this season, so explosiveness in that room is clearly a need.
One of the best running backs in the portal is former Tennessee Volunteer Tiyon Evans, who in his first year out of junior college had some solid success in the SEC.
Evans finished the 2021 campaign with 525 rushing yards and six touchdowns, including three 100-yard performances.
At 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, Evans brings versatility and explosiveness that Penn State could use with the loss of former Baylor transfer John Lovett after the season.
Kayden Lyles, interior offensive lineman
While the running game was not one of Penn State strong points this season, much of that can be blamed on some poor offensive line play.
Some of the starters, who were expected to play important roles this season, were frankly disappointing, so getting more depth and talent in this area should be a priority.
Kayden Lyles, an interior offensive lineman who was previously at Wisconsin, would be a great player to bring in to help solidify the big boys up front.
Lyles can play both guard and center, which would be a luxury for the Nittany Lions, as current interior o-lineman Juice Scruggs can play that role as well.
It's never a bad thing to build a foundation up front, and getting Lyles this offseason would do just that.
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The first domino has fallen for Penn State in this year’s transfer portal.
Myles Brennan, quarterback
The debate all offseason will be whether Penn State should bring in a transfer quarterback to compete to be the starter.
The status of three-year starter Sean Clifford is up in the air as he decides whether he wants to stay in Happy Valley or transfer out with his final year of eligibility — or if he wants to stay in college at all.
While Clifford could certainly be the starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions next year, he will have the pressure to produce with freshman 4-star recruit Drew Allar sitting right behind him all season.
Therefore, Clifford may feel a change of scenery would be best, which means Penn State will need a veteran passer.
While rumors of big names like Spencer Rattler and Dillon Gabriel have been thrown around, former LSU quarterback Myles Brennan would be a really solid fit for the program.
He’ll have a chance to play for another major program while he tries to bounce back from a broken arm that required surgery.
Again, this all depends on the decision made by Clifford this offseason, but if he goes, Brennan should be one of the top guys on the list for Franklin and his staff
Isaiah Johnson, defensive end
Like the offensive line, it’s always important to build up the defensive line depth prior to any season.
Plus, Penn State will lose a good amount of its edge-rush production with the departures of Arnold Ebiketie and potentially Jesse Luketa this offseason.
With Adisa Isaac set to return from injury, Penn State could use another force at defensive end alongside him, and Isaiah Johnson would be an ideal fit.
Johnson has significant experience in his four years at Fresno State and like Ebiketie could make the jump to the next level.
He’s a former 3-star recruit who saw the field a bunch in his first couple of years before a season-ending injury in 2019 that had lingering effects in 2020.
He played in just four games in 2021, giving him another extra year of eligibility in addition to the one already.
Having too much depth in the trenches is never a problem for college programs and getting an experienced player in the room would be ideal with the lack of upperclassmen on the outside.