Last updated: August 24. 2013 11:36PM - 1605 Views

Allen Robinson is expected to be Penn State's top receiver again this season.
Allen Robinson is expected to be Penn State's top receiver again this season.
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OFFENSE


QUARTERBACK


14 Christian Hackenberg (Fr./Fr.) OR


5 Tyler Ferguson (So./So.)


Depth: 12 Jack Seymour (Fr./Fr), 17 D.J. Crook (Fr./Fr.), 3 Austin Whipple (Fr./Fr.)


• Bill O’Brien said he’d have a decision on his starting quarterback by the end of the week, true. But, come to think of it, he didn’t actually say he’d tell us who it was. One imagines O’Brien is hoping to keep things as calm as possible for his new signal-caller before his first game rather than hype him up with a big announcement. And if the delay happens to give Syracuse a brief moment’s pause, that’s a bonus. Hackenberg managed to quickly close the gap on Ferguson after the first week of camp, and ESPN certainly presented its training camp video to suggest Hackenberg is in the lead. Expect both to see the field on Saturday.


TAILBACK


28 Zach Zwinak (Sr./Jr.)


1 Bill Belton (Jr./Jr.)


22 Akeel Lynch (So./Fr.)


FULLBACK


35 Pat Zerbe (5th/Sr.)


34 Domonic Salomone (So./Fr.)


Depth: 36 Deron Thompson (Jr./So.), 32 Jack Haffner (So./Fr), 29 Brock Baranowski (Fr./Fr.), Chip Chiappialle (Fr./Fr.) 27 Adam Geiger (Fr./Fr.), 21 Brian Tomasetti (Fr./Fr.), 25 Von Walker (Fr./Fr.)


• At media day this month, O’Brien got a question that mentioned his depth at running back and the coach’s eyes went wide: “Uh, we’ve got three guys.” All three of them will have an impact on games, but O’Brien will be holding his breath whenever one of them lingers on the ground after a play. Zwinak looks to be fully healed from his wrist injury from the spring, Belton got his academics in order during the summer and Lynch has the makings of something special — talented on the field and magnetic in the locker room. Fullback may get less attenion now that Michael Zordich is gone, but Zerbe is a capable successor.


WIDE RECEIVER (X)


8 Allen Robinson (Jr./Jr.)


7 Eugene Lewis (So./Fr.)


88 Jonathan Warner (So./Fr.)


WIDE RECEIVER (Z)


85 Brandon Felder (5th/Sr.)


80 Matt Zanellato (Jr./So.)


10 Deshawn Baker (Jr./So.)


WIDE RECEIVER (Slot)


15 Alex Kenney (Sr./Jr.)


19 Richy Anderson (Fr./Fr.)


2 Jake Kiley (So./Fr.)


Depth: 82 Gregg Garrity (Fr./Fr.), 6 Chris Geiss (Fr./Fr.), 83 Luke Vadas (Fr./Fr.)


Injured: 2 DaeSean Hamilton (Fr./Fr.)


• After being named the Big Ten’s best receiver (it wasn’t close) as a sophomore, what can Robinson do for an encore? For one, the coaching staff is looking to move him around and line him up in all sorts of new spots to further give defenses some pre-snap jitters. He certainly won’t surprise any opponents in September as he did last season. Felder showed late last year he was capable of capitalizing on single-coverage when defenses bracketed Robinson. Lewis will make his debut Saturday and teammates predict it won’t take long for him to make the highlight reels. Kenney remains one of the fastest players on the roster.


TIGHT END (Y)


18 Jesse James (So./So.)


84 Matt Lehman (5th/Sr.)


TIGHT END (F)


87 Kyle Carter (Jr./So.)


81 Adam Breneman (Fr./Fr.)


Depth: 89 Tom Pancoast (Fr./Fr.)


Injured: 11 Brent Wilkerson (So./Fr.)


• Before Wilkerson was sidelined by back surgery, O’Brien sounded confident he could find ways to use all five of his top tight ends during a game. Last year the unit combined for 82 catches, 1,090 yards and 10 touchdowns, and there’s a very real possibility of maintaining those lofty numbers even with a rookie quarterback. Carter has been said to be the security blanket for those young QBs during camp. James and Lehman create matchup nightmares with their size. And the true freshman Breneman is ready to show why he was the consensus top tight end recruit in the country before his knee injury last summer.


LEFT TACKLE


76 Donovan Smith (Jr./So.)


75 Eric Shrive (5th/Sr.)


79 Kevin Blanchard (Jr./So.)


LEFT GUARD


65 Miles Dieffenbach (Sr./Jr.)


66 Angelo Mangiro (Jr./So.)


68 Bryan Davie (Sr./Jr.)


CENTER


60 Ty Howle (5th/Sr.)


66 Angelo Mangiro (Jr./So.)


55 Wendy Laurent (So./Fr.)


RIGHT GUARD


64 John Urschel (5th/Sr.)


66 Angelo Mangiro (Jr./So.)


56 Anthony Alosi (Jr./So.)


RIGHT TACKLE


58 Adam Gress (5th/Sr.)


77 Garry Gilliam (5th/Sr.)


59 Andrew Nelson (Fr./Fr.)


Depth: 57 Tanner Hartman (Fr./Fr.), 70 Brendan Mahon (Fr./Fr.), 78 Tom Devenney (Fr./Fr.), 73 Austin Fiedler (Fr./Fr.), 67 Andrew Terlingo (Fr./Fr.)


Injured: 74 Evan Galimberti (Fr./Fr.)


• Despite losing Rimington Award finalist Matt Stankiewitch and respected leader Mike Farrell to graduation, the Lions look to be fine up front, replacing both former starters with fifth-year seniors in Howle and Gress. O’Brien has been quick to mention Howle as a guy who, despite having limited snaps during his career, will be valuable on the field and in the locker room. Smith looks to have an NFL future ahead of him and teams with Dieffenbach for experience on the left side. And there’s been plenty written and said about Urschel, who will be teaching Integral Vector Calculus at Penn State this fall when he’s not on the field.


DEFENSE


DEFENSIVE END (Strongside)


18 Deion Barnes (Jr./So.)


98 Anthony Zettel (Jr./So.)


DEFENSIVE TACKLE (1-technique)


91 DaQuan Jones (Sr./Sr.)


53 Derek Dowrey (So./Fr.)


88 Tyrone Smith (Sr./Jr.)


DEFENSIVE TACKLE (3-technique)


84 Kyle Baublitz (Sr./Jr.)


99 Austin Johnson (So./Fr.)


72 Brian Gaia (So./Fr.)


DEFENSIVE END (Weakside)


86 C.J. Olaniyan (Sr./Jr.)


94 Evan Schwan (So./Fr.)


Depth: 90 Garrett Sickels (Fr./Fr.), 52 Curtis Cothran (Fr./Fr.), 41 Parker Cothren (Fr./Fr.), 95 Carl Nassib (Jr./So.), 92 Albert Hall (So./Fr.)


Injured: 31 Brad Bars (Sr./Jr.)


• Every season Penn State has to replace a great talent on the defensive line, only to have the next man up turn in a stellar final season in the Blue and White. At tackle, the lineage is now going from Jared Odrick to Devon Still to Jordan Hill to Jones. At end, Barnes has another year of Larry Johnson’s tutleage to help him build on his Big Ten Freshman of the Year campaign. Depth could be an issue given that Larry Johnson prefers to liberally rotate his linemen, but Austin Johnson is highly regarded. Losing Bars to a ruptured Achilles during the summer was a blow to a unit that may redshirt a pair of talented freshman ends in Sickels and Cothran.


OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (Sam)


43 Mike Hull (Sr./Jr.)


38 Ben Kline (Jr./So.)


MIDDLE LINEBACKER (Mike)


40 Glenn Carson (Sr./Sr.)


8 Gary Wooten (So./Fr.)


OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (Will)


5 Nyeem Wartman (So./Fr.)


30 Charles Idemudia (So./Fr.)


Depth: 26 Brandon Bell (Fr./Fr.), 22 T.J. Rhattigan (Jr./So.), 51 Drew Boyce (Jr./So.), 46 Adam Cole (So./Fr.), 35 Matthew Baney (So./So.), 48 Ryan Ammerman (Fr./Fr.), 36 Hunter Crafford (Fr./Fr.), 42 Carter Henderson (Fr./Fr.), 49 Garth Lakitsky (Fr./Fr.), 32 Kyle Searfoss (Fr./Fr.), 47 Brandon Smith (Fr./Fr.), 50 Mike Wiand (Fr./Fr.)


• Going down the entire depth chart, it becomes apparent that Hull may be the single most irreplacable player on the team. His speed and instincts helped Penn State overhaul its third-down defense after a miserable start last year. He ably filled in for Michael Mauti as a starter at the end of the season and also happens to be one of the strongest players pound-for-pound on the roster. He’ll team with the steady Carson, who will be starting and calling defenses for a third straight year. Wartman has already been pegged by teammates as most likely to break out on defense this year. A solid starting three, but multiple injuries here could derail the entire defense.


CORNERBACK (Field)


10 Trevor Williams (So./So.)


24 Anthony Smith (Fr./Fr.)


12 Jordan Smith (Fr./Fr.)


CORNERBACK (Boundary)


9 Jordan Lucas (So./So.)


3 Da’Quan Davis (So./So.)


16 Devin Pryor (Jr./So.)


STRONG SAFETY


4 Adrian Amos (Jr./Jr.)


7 Stephen Obeng-Agyapong (5th/Sr.)


6 Malik Golden (So./Fr.)


FREE SAFETY


1 Malcolm Willis (5th/Sr.)


23 Ryan Keiser (Sr./Jr.)


39 Jesse Della Valle (Sr./Jr.)


Depth: 20 Neiko Robinson (Fr./Fr.), 14 Kasey Gaines (Fr./Fr.), 13 Jesse Merise (Jr./So.), 27 Colin Harrop (So./Fr.), 13 Dad Poquie (Fr./Fr.), 34 Jordan Dudas (Jr./Jr.)


• Secondary coach-turned-defensive coordinator John Butler was limited in what he could do here last season because of a lack of bodies. So although only one defensive back is in line to start at the same position he did in 2012 (Willis), the unit should be improved as a whole. Amos, the Lions’ most talented DB, is a more natural fit at safety but can play well anywhere if needed. Much will hinge on the development of new corners Williams, who played wideout last year, and Lucas, who was predominately on special teams. O’Brien and Butler particularly like their size. Obeng-Agyapong has also worked a bit as an outside linebacker in camp.


SPECIAL TEAMS


KICKER


97 Sam Ficken (Jr./Jr.)


37 Chris Gulla (Fr./Fr.)


PUNTER


45 Alex Butterworth (Sr./Sr.)


37 Chris Gulla (Fr./Fr.)


HOLDER


23 Ryan Keiser (Sr./Jr.)


45 Alex Butterworth (Sr./Sr.)


LONG SNAPPER (punts)


40 Glenn Carson (Sr./Sr.)


LONG SNAPPER (kicks)


60 Ty Howle (5th/Sr.)


Depth: 44 Tyler Yazujian (So./Fr.), 54 Sean Corcoran (Fr./Fr.)


• Ficken was a symbol of Penn State’s progress last season, representing both the ravages of the sanctions early on as he struggled to replace the departed Anthony Fera and the Lions’ perseverance as he made 10 straight field goals to end the season on a very high note. The early inconsistency from both Ficken and Butterworth last season led to Penn State keeping the offense on the field 32 times on fourth down last season, with a fake punt and a fake field goal thrown in for good measure. That number figures to decrease slightly in 2013. Gulla comes in without a scholarship but his strong leg could give the Lions another option if needed.


KICK RETURNERS


1 Bill Belton (Jr./Jr.)


15 Alex Kenney (Sr./Jr.)


22 Akeel Lynch (So./Fr.)


7 Eugene Lewis (So./Fr.)


19 Richy Anderson (Fr./Fr.)


10 Trevor Williams (So./So.)


PUNT RETURNERS


39 Jesse Della Valle (Sr./Jr.)


19 Richy Anderson (Fr./Fr.)


1 Bill Belton (Jr./Jr.)


10 Trevor Williams (So./So.)


• This last part isn’t so much a depth chart as it is guesswork. O’Brien has had many, many different players work on fielding kicks and punts during practice and the Lions are likely to try anything and anyone to improve on last season’s mediocre showing in the return game. Remember that Gerald Hodges actually opened last season at both spots — even if it did only last for two quarters. O’Brien and special teams overseers Ron Vanderlinden and Charles London have plenty of strong athletes to choose from, but it’s about much more than just speed and acceleration. Della Valle earned his spot last season in part because of sure hands under pressure.


 
 
 
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