Who Are the Penn State Safeties?

Who are the Penn State safeties? The group only loses one member entering the 2021 season and has a new coach in Anthony Poindexter at the helm.

Going into spring practice it is important to take stock of each position for Penn State Football. We have already reviewed the quarterbacks and the tight ends. We have also gone over the early enrollees that are already on campus getting to know the team, coaches, and the playbook. Now we will be reviewing the safety position. The only safety that will not be returning due to graduation and declaring for the NFL draft is Lamont Wade. Wade had been a steady force at the safety position for the Nittany Lions since his true freshman season in 2017. With only one safety departing, who are the Penn State safeties?

Who Are the Penn State Safeties?

Not only will the safety group have all but one returner in the 2021 season, they will also have a new coach. Anthony Poindexter was recently hired as the Co-Defensive Coordinator and Safeties Coach for the Nittany Lions. He was most recently at Purdue in the same position. Poindexter has coached at the collegiate level for 18 years. He is not only an accomplished coach, but he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, a two-time All-American, and he won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. Head Coach James Franklin¬†stated after the hire, “…Anthony’s safeties have always played hard with a nose for the ball. Anthony has an infectious personality and leads with humility. Our safeties will really enjoy learning from him.”

Safety One: Jaquan Brisker

Brisker is a senior safety for the Nittany Lions. He was a transfer from Lackawanna College in 2019. In his junior season, and first with Penn State, in 2019 he played in all 13 games. Further, he had two interceptions and one tackle for loss from the secondary. Brisker was more efficient in his senior season in 2020 while playing in four fewer games. He had a team-high six pass breakups which ranked him seventh in the Big Ten. Brisker was recruited to Penn State based on his physicality as a tackler. A spotlight was finally shined on that ability in the second half of the shortened season. His abilities should only grow under the coaching of Poindexter.

Safety Two: Jonathan Sutherland

Sutherland has mainly made his presence known on special teams for the Nittany Lions. The redshirt junior was selected as a captain in 2020 and wears the number zero as the special teams leader, starting a new tradition for Penn State. Sutherland appeared in eight games in 2020 and recorded two tackles for loss. In addition, the redshirt junior assisted a sack against Michigan State. He was a four-star safety out of high school according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Further, he was the 11th ranked recruit out of Virginia. Sutherland will likely get a shot at playing more safety in 2021, but don’t expect him to be any less of a presence on special teams.

Safety Three: Ji’Ayir Brown

The third safety highlighted on our list is Brown. Brown is also a Lackawanna College transfer. As a junior in the shortened 2020 season, Brown appeared in six games. He tallied one tackle for loss and a pass breakup. He was a three-star JUCO recruit for the 2020 recruiting class according to the 247Sports Composite ranking. In addition, Brown was the first ranked JUCO player out of New Jersey and the third-ranked JUCO safety. Look for Brown to get more playing time in the 2021 season. In 2018 while at Lackawanna college, he tallied 40 tackles, five interceptions, and one returned for a touchdown. He has the potential, hopefully, Poindexter can bring it out.

Safety Four: Enzo Jennings

Jennings was a true freshman in the shortened 2020 season. He only appeared in one game and it was the season-finale against Illinois. It was expected that Jennings would redshirt in 2020 to build up strength and refine his skills at the safety position. He played a lot of man-to-man in high school and teams tended to avoid throwing his direction. When he entered Penn State he was six-foot-one-inch and weighed 185 pounds. He is now listed at 197 pounds adding the muscle that he needed. He will likely make a much bigger impact in his redshirt freshman season in 2021.

Overall Positive Going Into 2021

The safety position has two things in its favor entering spring practice. The first, only one player departed for the NFL. The second, a new, very accomplished, coach to learn from. Look for Brisker to be a starter in the fall along with either Brown or Jennings. Sutherland has found a home on special teams, but will likely contribute more in the secondary in 2021 than he did before. The safety position has been a borderline weak spot the last few seasons.  Look for that to change drastically in 2021.

Embed from Getty Images