Abdul Carter is making strides in the new defensive end role for Penn State football


It has been more than three months since Abdul Carter played in front of an audience.

The last time Penn State football fans saw their explosive linebacker was at Peach peel in December 2023, when Carter finished his sophomore season with three tackles and a pass breakup.

Fans will have the opportunity to see Carter again at the Blue-White Game at Penn State, although Carter will no longer play his normal position of linebacker. No. 11 Penn State will play defense after an offseason move.

The transition went smoothly, said James Franklin.

“Abdul is very talented. The transition has probably been better and quicker than I thought,” Franklin said Tuesday. “It’s a different world up there.”

At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Carter was larger than the rest of Penn State's linebacker corps. After coming to Penn State determined to play linebacker, Carter wanted to move to defensive end after the 2023 season.

In FebruaryFranklin said Carter's decision was a “win-win” for everyone involved. So far, those involved in the program have been on the same page during the transition.

“Abdul looks really good. He’s adapted really well,” said Dani Dennis-Sutton, a fellow defender. “Obviously he's a big, muscular guy, so he's good in the trenches as well as pass rushing. We already know what he can do.”

Carter and Dennis-Sutton are expected to be the team's top two options on defense in the 2024 season. Weighing in at 520 pounds, Penn State's edge rushers have a chance to continue the dominance that last year's team established with the pass rush.

Dennis-Sutton was considered a top-tier player at Penn State last year, but with the departures of Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac, he'll have more reps this season. Carter's rapid improvement on the defensive line bodes well for the Nittany Lions, who are looking to replace two of college football's best pass rushers without help from the transfer portal.

Dennis-Sutton said Carter didn't change much during the transition, only his position changed. The same linebacker who impressed the country in his first two seasons will still be on the field for Penn State this fall.

“Everything you saw last year or the last two years or even the first year: speed, power, explosiveness,” Dennis-Sutton said. “Just another guy in the room pushing us to get better and he’s going to have a big year.”

Penn State still has a few months before it needs to fully bring Carter into the nation against West Virginia, but with his development so far, Carter appears ready for a teaser show on Saturday.

“He was physical, he was explosive from the rim,” Franklin said. “There are still some things he is learning, but his transition has probably been better and quicker than expected.”

Joe is a junior journalism student at Penn State University and an associate editor at Onward State. He covers Penn State football and enjoys shouting about Philadelphia/Penn State sports on Twitter. He also listens more to Mac Miller than you. If you want to find him, Joe is usually watching football shirtless or going to the gym with his shirt on. Please send him any positive affirmations and/or hate mail on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email ([email protected]).