There have been several teams who had a difficult 2020 College Football season due to the impact of COVID-19. Of all the teams in the Big Ten Conference, Penn State football had one of the most traumatic shifts from 2019 to 2020.
Penn State accounted for an overall record of 11-2 including a 7-2 record in conference play in 2019. The Nittany Lions finished that season ranked ninth in the AP and Coaches Poll with a huge win over the Memphis Tigers in the 2019 Goodyear Cotton Bowl.
While the head coach James Franklin was determined to stay strong during the challenging 2020 football season, the impact of COVID-19 got the better of them.
The Nittany Lions had several key playmakers depart for the 2020 NFL Draft including defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos and wide receiver K.J. Hamler, leaving a huge void of talent. It was especially difficult for the program when star linebacker Micah Parsons opted-out of the 2020 season.
Penn State football would struggle to find consistency throughout the season despite being ranked seventh overall in the preseason AP Poll.
The Nittany Lions would start with a 0-5 overall record including the heartbreaking 36-35 overtime loss at Indiana in week one of Big Ten play. They did finish the season with four consecutive wins including a 27-17 win at the Michigan Wolverines.
This season was difficult for Nittany Lions fans to create any judgment based on the shocking departures and the problems of a nearly non-existent football season. This offseason, all teams are projected to prepare just like any other normal season.
This means that the Nittany Lions will have a spring season to compose themselves and prepare more efficiently. While there will be significant pressure on the coaching staff of Penn State, there will be an equal amount of pressure on the leaders of the team.
These leaders will be looked upon by fans, the program, and their own teammates to get them to rebound from their first losing season since 2004. Here are the three Nittany Lions with the most to prove this offseason.