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Penn State’s Dennis-Sutton got a late start, but he’s making a big impression now

When Dani Dennis-Sutton arrived at Penn State last June, he knew he was behind.
Other highly rated members of his recruiting class, such as Nick Singleton and Drew Allar, enrolled in January to participate in spring football practice and indoctrinate themselves into the program.
So, Dennis-Sutton dove headfirst into preparing for his freshman season.
“As soon as I got here, I was pretty much in training camp,” he said Saturday. “I had to pick up the plays. I had to get in shape within a matter of two months. The next thing you know the season was here. There was a lot going on.
“Being in the system for a year now, I’ve gotten very comfortable.”
And how. Dennis-Sutton was clearly the most impactful defensive player in the Nittany Lions’ annual Blue-White Game at Beaver Stadium.
The 6-5, 262-pound defensive end made two sacks and thoroughly disrupted the Blue offense, made up of mostly front-line players.
“I thought Dani was unblockable out there,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “He’s going to have a big year for us. I couldn’t be more excited about him.”
Dennis-Sutton’s emergence is hardly a surprise. He was rated the No. 1 high school player in Maryland in the 2022 recruiting class and one of the top 50 players in the country by On3 and 247 Sports. He chose Penn State over Southeastern Conference powers Alabama and Georgia.
Yet he played a reserve role last season behind Adisa Isaac, Nick Tarburton and Chop Robinson. He understood why.
“If it wasn’t any other people besides Nick, Adisa and Chop, I might have been more frustrated,” he said. “But all those guys are legit guys. I can’t say anything to the coaches because they’re doing everything right.
“I’d say I was a little frustrated, but when Coach (former defensive line coach John Scott Jr.) broke it down to me and showed me, ‘This is what they’re doing right versus what I’m not doing right,’ it made sense.”
Dennis-Sutton played in every game last season, finishing with three sacks, three quarterback hurries, an interception and a pass breakup. ESPN named him to its True Freshman All-America Team.
Scott raved about Dennis-Sutton’s work ethic in the middle of last season, describing it as “incredible.”
“Dani has come in from day one trying to get extra work and extra meetings,” Scott said then. “It’s just not the work ethic an average person has.”
For example, this spring Dennis-Sutton spent extra time with left tackle Olu Fashanu, an All-American candidate, in order to perfect his skills.
“It helped me out a lot,” he said. “Olu obviously is a great offensive lineman. He’s taught me so many things. I stay with him after practice all the time. He teaches me little things that I might not notice in my game.”
Dennis-Sutton is one of several talented Penn State defensive ends, including Isaac, Robinson, Zuriah Fisher and Amin Vanover. The battle for playing time, as expected, has been and will be fierce.
“We talk about it all the time,” Dennis-Sutton said. “Competition brings out the best of us. Any of us can start at any other university, but here we just got so many talented players. We all want to see each other succeed.
“When you see those guys make plays, it just motivates you more to make plays. That’s making all of us better.”
The Lions’ defensive ends could again be among the best and deepest group in the country. Dennis-Sutton will be a large part of it, even if he doesn’t start.
“The main thing is him being consistent every single day, giving his all and learning from stuff he didn’t have last year,” Robinson said about Dennis-Sutton. “He’s more confident in his game than he was last season. It’s a big improvement from what he did last season.
“He’s a pass rusher. He’s a run stopper. His size and his speed are just like crazy to see.”
Source: Morningcall

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