Jesse Luketa and Ellis Brooks served as linebacker Mike for the past few years at Penn State, but now the two have decided to try their hand at the NFL, leaving a void in one of the defense’s most important spots.

The heir to the throne currently sits between two sophomores Tyler Elsdon and redshirt rookie Kobe King, but only one will start on game day.

At Happy Valley, the Mike is one of the most iconic positions on the court, with Penn State enjoying the name “Linebacker U,” but it’s more than the court that makes him important.

Elsdon said there’s a “norm” that comes with playing center linebacker at Penn State, which he says adds a “weight on his shoulder,” knowing the importance of the position.

“To embrace the position I’m in, it really motivates me,” Elsdon said Wednesday. “It makes me want to be a perfectionist, even though perfection isn’t a thing. It makes me want to be damn close.

Near perfection will be needed if Elsdon is to beat King for the starting role, whom Elsdon praised for being mentally and physically ready for the bright lights.

With new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on their ears, the two battled it out day after day in practice.

“The competition itself is awesome,” Elsdon said. “It keeps me on my toes. It keeps him on his toes and just pushes us to improve. I think we are very selfless in this. It doesn’t matter who’s on the court, even though we’re competing, we really push each other to be the best versions of ourselves.

However, the two have no bad blood towards each other, as Elsdon said the relationship between the two of them was very “healthy”. Elsdon and King paired up during individual drills at practice Wednesday.

Diaz, like Elsdon, tries to be a perfectionist, insisting his group of linebackers do “game-like” reps during practice.

Elsdon noticed Diaz’s change from being ‘casual’ at the bowling game, when he acted more as a spectator, to now having a ‘fire’ in him as a full-time linebackers coach and coordinator. defensive.

“He shows a lot of passion,” Elsdon said. “I like it. It makes me want to play for him. He wants us to do well for us, and he wants us to do well for him.

As defensive coordinator, Diaz will communicate regularly with his middle linebacker.

Elsdon said there had been an “open line of communication” between him and his new caller.

“I think that’s really important from a Mike and a coach, especially [the] D coordinator and linebacker coach,” Elsdon said.


It’s been almost a month since Penn State’s spring football training began in preparation…

The 6-foot-1 King is a bit shorter than the 6-foot-2 Elsdon, but King holds the weight advantage at 242 pounds over Elsdon’s 229.

In year two, Elsdon played in 12 games with 11 tackles on nine solos including two assists.

During that time, King played in the red jersey four game maximum, racking up 3 tackles on a solo and two assists.

Elsdon has more experience than King, but Elsdon doesn’t think King’s level of experience is a factor in the starting race.

In addition to Diaz’s hiring, Penn State brought in Stacy Collins as the new special teams coordinator, but he’s also helping Diaz with outside linebackers.

Collins attends linebackers meetings with King and Elsdon and works with Diaz when it comes to linebacker-specific drills.

The outside linebackers coach has seen Elsdon progress through the first two weeks of spring training.

“He works his tail every exercise, so he has great value,” Collins said. “Being with him and Coach Diaz in the linebacker room, he played extremely hard. He’s an extremely smart kid. I’m excited to see how he continues to progress.

Elsdon took on first-team representatives in limited action during the part of Wednesday’s practice that was open to the media, while King replaced the second team.

There are still a handful of practices until the Blue-White Game on April 23, which will reveal linebacker Mike’s true starter, at least for now.

With the competition underway, Elsdon is unsure who will be called up in Week 1.

Right now, Elsdon is trying to use his passion for the game to create the best relationships with his teammates, hoping to push his name to the top of the depth chart.

“I just do my best to be super nice, to be a leader and to help everyone,” Elsdon said. “I think it’s hard to say because Kobe is the exact same way. I think that’s something special about Mike’s linebacker.


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