This year’s Blue-White Game was different for former Penn State tight end Brenton Strange.
He wasn’t playing.
His college football career ended gloriously a few months prior in Pasadena, where he helped Penn State to just its second Rose Bowl win in school history against Utah.
On April 15, Strange stood on the sidelines, chatted with old teammates such as current Washington Commanders’ receiver Jahan Doston, and knew that in, at most, two weeks, his life would change.
Everybody knew Strange was going to get drafted.
“Brenton Strange,” draft guru Todd McShay tweeted last month. “Get to know that name. The Penn State TE is one of the least talked about and most underrated players in the draft. (NFL) Combine numbers were pedestrian, but his tape is impressive. Despite a loaded TE class, you’ll hear his name called Night 2 of the NFL draft.”
Brenton Strange. Get to know that name. The Penn State TE is one of the least talked about and most underrated players in the draft. Combine numbers were pedestrian but his tape is impressive. Despite a loaded TE class, you’ll hear his name called Night 2 of the NFL draft. pic.twitter.com/iCVsyAA1cQ
— Todd McShay (@McShay13) March 26, 2023
McShay was right.
Strange did have his name called Night 2, going to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 61st overall pick.
So, what type of player is Jacksonville getting?
At this year’s Blue-White Game, Strange told NSN that whichever team drafted him would get a “versatile piece in their offense.”
“A leader,” Strange said. “Just someone who comes in every single day, works hard, makes the team better.”
After getting drafted, Strange told Jaguars.com something similar.
”You can put me anywhere on the offense and be effective,” Strange said. “You can put me in multiple different positions to be able to impact the game. That’s my best strength.”
Strange noted that he’s capable of playing fullback and H-back along with tight end.
Strange’s numbers back up his versatility. As part of a deep tight ends room that also featured Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren, Strange led Penn State’s tight ends in receptions (32), yards (362) and tied receiver Mitchell Tinsley for the team lead in touchdowns (5).
As McShay mentioned, Strange can block, too.
One of Strange’s most important blocks at Penn State came in his last game. In the third quarter, Strange helped running back Nick Singleton break free for an 87-yard touchdown that gave Penn State a lead it wouldn’t lose.
When the Rose Bowl ended with a 35-21 Penn State win, so did Strange’s college career, and he’ll certainly be missed by the program.
But make no mistake: Penn State’s future at the tight end position is bright even with Strange moved onto the NFL.
Khalil Dinkins is heading into his third year and could receive more of a look in 2023 with Strange’s departure creating more room on the depth chart.
Jerry Cross was a four-star Class of 2022 signee from Milwaukee that didn’t get a chance to do much of anything last season because of injury.
From the ‘23 Class, four-stars Andrew Rappleyea, Joey Schaffer and Mega Barnwell are all listed as tight ends.
Penn State also has Theo Johnson (20 catches, 328 yards, four touchdowns in 2022), although Johnson’s status is less certain due to an assault charge that came down last Wednesday.
Strange is confident on the future.
“I know that those guys are great,” he said. “They’re in great hands with coach Ty Howle, one of the best tight end coaches in the country. So they’re only going to keep developing, keep getting better, and that’s what we do at Penn State. We’re good here.”
Overall, Strange is psyched for the future.
“I couldn’t be more thankful,” he said. “All the hard work, all the sacrifices paid off, and I just can’t wait to get to work with my new team.”
His new team is Jacksonville, and his first NFL game isn’t too far away.