Yet another player retires at Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The depth of Penn State's defensive line took another big blow late Saturday night as Torrence Brown announced his playing career has come to an end.

Brown, a redshirt senior defensive end, suffered a season-ending knee injury against Georgia State last season which halted a promising redshirt junior campaign and ultimately his career.

The retirement of Brown is the fifth by a Penn State player since June and the fourth alone during training camp. With Brown having called it quits, the defensive line is now without two game-changing ends after Ryan Buchholz announced his retirement last week.

Prior to his injury, Brown had started all three games notching eight tackles in 2017 following a 2016 season where he appeared in all 14 games and earned four starts. The Tuscaloosa, Al. native had 33 tackles during the 2016 season and was projected to be a big force for Brent Pry's defense this year should he have returned from his injury.

Losing Buchholz and Brown is a devastating blow to an already young position group where Shareef Miller is the lone returning starter who's an upper classman. Miller has transformed himself into the leader of the defensive ends and now as the elder statesman, it will be he who sets the tone for defensive end play in 2018.

Replacing Buchholz and Brown will be no easy task when the Nittany Lions hit the field for games in September and Pry will have to be creative when using his young ends. And while the ends may be young, the talent is certainly there for them to not miss a beat.

Penn State will have to rely more on Miller as well as defensive ends Shane Simmons, Shaka Toney, and Yetur Gross-Matos this fall. Those four will assuredly be the two-deep rotation when the depth chart is announced in the coming weeks.

After that quartet is where it gets shakier for the Nittany Lions as only Daniel Joseph has seen significant playing time (eight games) during his Penn State career. Pry will be forced to play freshmen Nick Tarburton and Jayson Oweh right away, which they should be able to handle based solely on their athleticism, but it will undoubtedly be a work in progress for those two.

One other option the Nittany Lions have at their disposal is the use of defensive tackle Kevin Givens, who has played both tackle and end in previous seasons. Pry has spoke at length about the flexibility Givens has shown and with the lack of experience now at the end position, it would be a good time to go to Givens to mix things up.

The way I project it to work out is any combination of Miller, Simmons, Toney, and Gross-Matos will be the two-deep rotation to begin the season with Givens working his way in based on different situations that arise in the game. Following those four will be Johnson, Tarburton, and Oweh who will be depth options early in the season and could work their way in to more consistent playing time as their knowledge and game experience grows throughout the season.

How the defensive end rotations work out will be a story to follow as camp continues and Penn State gets closer to game day. They're now only an injury or two away from total devastation along the defensive front and can ill afford to lose another defensive end.

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