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Penn State OL Underwent Offseason Surgery, HC James Franklin Confirms

Photo by Penn State Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK– One of Penn State football’s offensive linemen underwent offseason surgery, coach James Franklin told reporters at his first presser of the spring season Monday afternoon. 

Drew Shelton, an in-state product from Downingtown, has a great chance to succeed projected first-round pick Olu Fashanu at left tackle this season. 

But he probably won’t have the benefit of spring practice, Franklin said, due to the surgery. 

Shelton is entering his third season with the program. He’s already received a solid amount of playing time due to Fashanu suffering what proved to be a season-ending injury two Octobers ago. As a result, the then-true freshman started Penn State’s last five games, culminating in the Rose Bowl win over Utah. 

Franklin said Shelton played through injury during last season and decided to get surgery right after it.

“It was one of those surgeries that he could get through the season with,” Franklin said, “but it probably made the most sense to get it done as soon as the season ended. Some guys decide to kind of play through those things for a number of years, some guys decide to get them done right away, and some guys decide to wait until right after the season. He decided to wait until right after the season.”

Franklin mentioned Shelton and true freshman Garrett Sexton as two guys Penn State “probably won’t have for spring ball.” But he feels the team has “a number of guys that we feel good about.”

Franklin also mentioned JB Nelson. He said Nelson can play either tackle or guard. He also mentioned J’ven Williams, a blue-chip from Wyomissing entering his second season. Franklin also touched on Williams’ classmate, Chimdy Onoh, and true freshman Eagan Boyer. 

Another ’23 signee, Anthony Donkoh, played against Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl, and Franklin said he “probably played better than a lot of people probably anticipated.”

He also feels Donkoh is capable of playing either guard or tackle. 

Another veteran who factors into Penn State’s 2024 plans is Nolan Rucci. Rucci is a legacy who transferred after three seasons at Wisconsin. 

A true freshman who might factor in is Cooper Cousins, another in-state product from McDowell. Franklin feels Cousins is capable of playing “multiple positions,” but will be a center to begin his career.

For Franklin, not having Shelton in the mix likely for the entirety of spring practice isn’t ideal. 

“But I think, long-term, it will be in his best interest and our best interest as well,” he said. 

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