Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Penn State Football

Smeltzer: Assessing the Penn State TE Room

Ty Howle November 12, 2022 David Hague/NSN

The Penn State tight ends room shrunk by one Monday.

Freshman TE Mega Barnwell is no longer on the roster.

The Fredericksburg, Virginia, native’s name is no longer on the roster page, and Nittany Sports Now confirmed that he’s no longer rostered.

Barnwell is a man capable of playing multiple positions, as coach James Franklin noted in his post-early signing day presser. Until early signing day, when it was announced that Penn State planned to use Barnwell at tight end for his freshman season, fans didn’t know where Barnwell would play on the field. The reasoning behind Barnwell’s departure, and where he plans on going next, are unknown at this time.

Penn State’s tight ends group was one of the team’s strengths in its 11-2 2022 campaign, and despite the room losing its leader, Brenton Strange, to the NFL, Penn State’s slated to have a solid group of tight ends returning for the 2023 season.

With that said, there are a few questions surrounding the group, namely its projected leader.


Ever since Strange declared for the NFL Draft at the end of last season, it became clear that Theo Johnson was the favorite to be the team’s top tight end for 2023. For the moment, that’d still the case; but an off-the-field issue has made things more complicated. In April, Johnson was Johnson was charged last month with two misdemeanors after allegedly punching a man in the face at a State College fraternity Feb. 11. The outcome of this case is to be determined, as is whether Johnson will face any discipline football-wise.

Last season, Johnson was part of a solid tight-end trio featuring Brenton Strange and Tyler Warren. He ended the year with 328 yards and four touchdowns on 20 receptions and was named to the Mackey Award Watch List.


Assuming Johnson’s still Penn State’s top TE, Warren’s slate to be No. 2. Warren’s entering his third season with the program. Last season, he had 10 catches for 123 yards and three scores. Warren can also be used as a wildcat running back and is a solid blocker, so his abilities extend beyond pass-catching.


Penn State fans haven’t gotten to see much of Jerry Cross. The Milwaukee native came to campus as a four-star recruit from the Class of 2022, but was hurt for almost all of last season and thus redshirted. The 6-foot-5, 251 pounder has a great build, and that, combined with his athleticism, gives Penn State and its fans good reason to be excited about this guy.


Even without Barnwell, Penn State signed two tight ends to its 2023 Class. Joey Schlaffer has a good chance of being a fan-favorite due to a combination of his ability (four-star recruit), upbringing (from close to Reading, Pennsylvania) and lineage (brother Michal Menet started at center for Penn State). But the star of the group could well be four-star Andrew Rappleyea. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder is big, athletic and should add bulk now that his basketball days are over.


With a pair of promising freshman, Warren, Cross and third-year Khalil Dinkins coming back, Penn State’s tight ends room should be just fine in the present, and the future’s looking solid, as well.

Get NSN in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get notifications of new posts by email.

More from Nittany Sports Now

Penn State Football

0 April 12, 2022 should go down as a great day in Penn State football history. It was the day Chop Robinson committed to transfer...

Penn State Football

0 UNIVERSITY PARK— NSN’s Joe Smeltzer and Jarrod Prugar break down Penn State’s 31-0 win over Iowa live from Beaver Stadium Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023....

Penn State Football

1 There were many impressive things about Penn State football’s 31-0 win over Iowa Saturday. Defense is at the top of the list.  The fact...

Lasching Out

0 Welcome to a brand-new Lasching Out Podcast on the Nittany Sports Now Network. This Penn State podcast is hosted by Nittany Sports Now’s...