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Seniors Brown, Luketa Unsure if They’ll be Back at Penn State in 2022

Photo by Penn State Athletics

Sean Clifford has made his decision to use his sixth-year of eligibility and be Penn State’s quarterback next season.

Brandon Smith has made up his mind, too, deciding to skip the Outback Bowl and declare for the NFL Draft.

Two of Penn State’s other seniors who have the option to come back in 2022 haven’t made up their minds yet.

Safety Ji’Ayir Brown and defensive end Jesse Luketa said Wednesday that they’re not sure whether they’ll be back in State College next season and use an extra year that would be granted to them thanks to COVID-19.

Luketa, a Canadian from Ottawa, Ontario, has contributed to Penn State’s defense since he began his college career in 2018, both as a linebacker and a defensive end. He appeared in 12 of 13 games as a freshman and made his first two starts as a sophomore in 2019 before becoming a regular starter in 2020. In November, Luketa accepted an invitation to play in the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

Brown, from Trenton, New Jersey, started his college football career at Lackawanna Community College, where he played the 2018 and ’19 seasons. He transferred to Penn State for the 2020 campaign. Over two years, he has developed into one of the most critical players on the Nittany Lions’ defense, as he and All-American and fellow-JUCO transfer Jaquan Brisker have formed arguably the best safety tandem in college football. Brown leads Penn State with four of the defense’s 12 interceptions in 2021.

If both or even one of Luketa and Brown is to return in 2022, it would be a big boost for new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. They are two of seven senior starters on the unit.

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