Penn State’s defense may be set to lose some key players in 2022, but one player the Nittany Lions can rely on in the new year will be Jonathan Sutherland. Sutherland announced he will be taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to all student-athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic’s wrath on the sports calendar in 2020.
“My time here at Penn State has developed and strengthened me mentally, emotionally and physically as a man and as a student-athlete,” Sutherland said in his statement posted on his Twitter account on Thursday. “With that being said, after careful thought and consideration with my loved ones and coaches, I will be using my extra year of eligibility to return for my 6th year at Penn State.”
Sutherland was the first player in Penn State history to wear the No. 0 and is a special teams captain. Sutherland also plays on defense and could have an increased role on the defensive side of the football in 2022.
Sutherland is a three-time captain for the program, which means Penn State will have a couple of veteran captains returning in 2022 with Sutherland and quarterback Sean Clifford. Clifford also previously confirmed his intent to return for one more season at Penn State, using his sixth year of eligibility.
Sutherland could potentially see more time at the linebacker position for Penn State in the Outback Bowl against Arkansas. Penn State will be without starting linebackers, and the team’s top two tackle leaders, Brandon Smith and Ellis Brooks. Both linebackers have opted out of the bowl season to begin focusing on their NFL future.
Penn State’s defense will also benefit from the return of Ji’Ayir Brown. Brown, who led Penn State in interceptions in 2021, recently announced he will also be returning for another season in Happy Valley.
Penn State faces Arkansas in the 2022 Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 1, 2022.
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