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‘Keystone’ Juice Scruggs Leads Penn State’s Offensive Line

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Juice Scruggs

Juice Scruggs’s time at Penn State has been an odyssey.

As a freshman, he redshirted. His next season never happened due to a car accident that fractured his vertebrae, and could have done far worse. 

In 2020, Scruggs returned to the field. Last year, he became a regular starter on Penn State’s offensive line, and accomplishing that after the accident was a big success. However, it would have been better for Scruggs if Penn State had won more. 

Penn State lost six of its last eight games last season to finish 7-6, and the team has been 11-11 over the last two years.  This Thursday, a new season begins, and Scruggs will be the team’s starting center. Over the past five months, he’s kept the same positive attitude.

“Since the spring, my attitude hasn’t changed,” Scruggs told reporters via Zoom Monday. “It’s been the same approach. Just attacking every day, getting better.”

As a fifth-year senior, one of Scruggs’s responsibilities is to help younger linemen get better, especially since Penn State named him one of its captains. 

Being named a captain humbled Scruggs. 

“It was definitely a great honor,” he said. “You have the respect of your peers and the people on the team and the coaching staff and everybody that’s involved with Penn State.”

Penn State’s offensive line struggled last season and took a lot of scrutiny because of it. But Scruggs is confident that things will improve this year, partly because of Penn State’s young talent. 

“We have some young guys that are looking good,” Scruggs said, “stepping up, and some guys that haven’t had a role on the team yet that are going to have a big role. So I think we’re going to be in a good spot come Thursday.”

One of the players Scruggs is impressed with is guard Sal Wormley, who missed 2021 due to injury.

“He picked up where he left off before his injury, and he’s just been… I already knew what he could do, and I just wasn’t, you know, coming off of injury, you never know how long it’s going to take that person to get back to their old self,” Scruggs said. “But he came off right away, motivated and hungry to show people what he’s got.”

Another player Scruggs talked about was redshirt freshman Landon Tengwall, one of Penn State’s top Class of 2021 signees. Tengwall redshirted his freshman season but is expected to play a significant role on Penn State’s revamped line this year. Scruggs feels the 6-foot-6, 332-pound Tengwall is advanced for his age.

“I forget that he’s only a redshirt freshman,” Scruggs said. “It’s kind of crazy. But he’s looking real good.”

Overall, Scruggs is amazed at where he was three years ago to where he is now. He’s gone from his career being in jeopardy to being Penn State’s starting center. Quite a turnaround, indeed.

Scruggs has a great relationship with Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, and Clifford called him the “keystone of our offense.”

Clifford is excited to see what Scruggs can do as the anchor of the offensive line. “He’s been through a lot at Penn State,” Clifford said. “So to say now that he’s in a good spot is an understatement.”

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