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‘A Unique Story’: Penn State DE Amin Vanover Looking for Breakout Built on Perseverance

Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Amin Vanover (56) November 12, 2022 David Hague/NSN

When Penn State head coach James Franklin first took the podium following the 2024 Blue-White Game— a 27-0 win for the White Team he mentioned a plethora of topics following the conclusion of spring ball.

The first player discussed wasn’t Drew Allar, Abdul Carter, Nick Singleton or Kobe King, but a lesser-known Penn State defensive lineman looking to make a significant name for himself during his senior season: Amin Vanover.

“I think he’s going to have a huge year for us,” Franklin said.

Vanover began his potential ‘huge year’ by stuffing the stat sheet at Beaver Stadium Saturday. He made splash plays throughout the game with two tackles, one tackle-for-loss, one sack and an interception. 

“The work I put in is starting to show,” Vanover said. “I put in extra time during the offseason, in the spring waking up early, doing extra work on my own; that’s all starting to pay off.” 

Owner of 2.5 career sacks but no interceptions, Vanover tried to differentiate between the two highlights and landed on the turnover-causing play as his more memorable of the day.

“The interception because I don’t often get opportunities to catch interceptions, but when I do, just know I’m going to catch them,” he said.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end talked after the game about his toughest time in college football being the transition from his freshman to sophomore years. “I was still young,” Vanover said. Franklin talked about Vanover having “a unique story.” When the tough and physical DL was younger, he knew perseverance before he could realize it.

“I was born at, if I’m not mistaken, one pound, five ounces. I was a premature baby,” Vanover said. “My mom had to have an emergency C-section at five and a half months. I was in an incubator and ended up getting sick.”

Born prematurely, Vanover dealt with health setbacks preventing him from having a relatively normal, healthy first year in the world as he shuffled between home and the hospital.

“I was in an incubator for three and a half months after my mom had me (in the NICU). After that, they let me come home (but) I got sick again when I came home,” Vanover said. “They sent me back to the hospital for another three and a half months until I was able to eat and do things on my own. 

“I wasn’t healthy until probably one and a half years old,” Vanover said. “I just have to thank God.”

Perseverance and family are what have guided Vanover from a premature, small baby fighting for his life at a young age to a powerful and physical player with something to prove. His mom has been the foundation and his rock since the beginning.

Entering his junior year of high school, Vanover transferred to St. Joseph’s in Montvale, New Jersey, one hour away from home. Wanting to do what she felt was best for her son, Vanover’s mom, Tyresha, drove Amin to and from school on a daily basis.

“My mom and I would wake up every morning at 5 o’clock and leave the house by 5:30 a.m. to make it to my school and make it back to work by 8 a.m.,” Vanover said. “The school was an hour away, and then she had to drive an hour back to work.”

On the back of a 1997 Toyota Corolla, the family made things work.

“She’d pick me up from school, too — almost four hours every day, at least,” Vanover said.

His mom calls her only son every day and was at the spring game to cheer him on. A former three-star recruit in the Class of 2020, Vanover totaled 29 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss, 25 sacks, one forced fumble, and three passes defended in 29 games, including eight last season. He was also previously offered by Alabama, Pitt, West Virginia, Clemson, Ohio State, and others before committing to Penn State.

Former Penn State Chop Robinson and Adisa Issac are gone, off to the NFL to live out their dreams.

Vanover learned a lot from Robinson and Issac from the hard work, perseverance, and work they did when no one was watching to be great and prepare themselves for the 2024 NFL Draft.

“The hunger is there regardless of whether they lead or not,” Vanover said. “When they were here, they were all still hungry. We were the best defensive line in the country last year for a reason, and that’s not going to change.” 

In a crowded room with many mouths to feed, it was unsure how much playing time Vanover would eventually see. Now, he can use the spring game, plus an offseason of work and further development, to answer many questions. Vanover’s confidence is there to step up and become a factor for one of the best defenses in the country. 

“It’s always been time, but right now, I feel like it’s my time to shine,” Vanover said. “I know I can do it.” 

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