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‘I’m a Joey Porter fan’: How the lengthy, speedy freshman earned a starting role

There weren’t many surprises on Penn State’s opening depth chart, released today, but there was a minor one at the cornerback spot replacing John Reid.

Redshirt freshman Joey Porter Jr. gets the top spot there and is expected to start Saturday at Indiana.

Keaton Ellis played a good bit last year as a true freshman, so some may have thought he would be in the No. 1 spot at that corner position.

But Porter won the job thanks to his all-around impressive skill set.

How impressive?

Just ask safety Lamont Wade.

“Man, I’m not even gonna lie to you, I’m a Joey Porter fan,” Wade said Tuesday. “Joey can ball, man. Joey can ball.

“Whenever Tariq (Castro-Fields) is out there and having Tariq and Joey, two corners that are over 6-foot whose arm spans are ridiculous, especially Joey’s, his upside is amazing. The only thing that will stop him from a first-round draft pick is himself.”

Porter, 6-2 and 193 pounds, is of course, the son of former Steelers linebacker and assistant coach Joey Sr.

The younger Porter, a four-star recruit out of North Allegheny High School, felt he was ready to play last year as a true freshman.

James Franklin told this story about all that Tuesday.

“I think Joey Porter is a good example of a guy that last year redshirted,” Franklin said. “I remember talking to Joey just a few weeks ago. And last year when Joey redshirted, he wasn’t happy about it, and he thought he was ready. And now looking back, having this conversation with him the other day, he goes, ‘Yeah, I wasn’t ready. I thought I was.’

“But he is now. And then not only is he ready now, he’s really playing at a high level with a lot of confidence.”

Porter talked about his length and athleticism during a recent Zoom call.

“I use my length and speed on the field for a lot of things, but mainly my press technique. It’s difficult for receivers to get off the line toward me because of my length, and my speed is also a difficult thing for them. So, around the whole field is a big problem for the wide receivers, I feel like.”

Porter believes he will stay at corner long term.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I feel like a corner, I play like a corner, my technique is like a corner. And that’s the position I love to do. If I have to move out of that position I will. But right now I feel like I’m at a good spot.”

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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