Next up for Penn State: finding replacements for the replacements.
The latest to leave the Nittany Lions is junior wide receiver Shawney Kersey. Coach Bill O‚??Brien cited personal reasons when announcing Kersey‚??s departure on Wednesday.
Kersey was tabbed as a starter to open the 2012 season after the Lions lost all of their top receivers from last year to graduation (Derek Moye), transfer (Justin Brown) and dismissal (Devon Smith).
Now the team has another bit of adversity to deal with headed into Saturday‚??s game against Navy.
‚??The train can‚??t stop rolling‚?Ě because of Kersey, senior cornerback Stephon Morris said. ‚??We‚??re 0-2. We aren‚??t really thinking about Shawney. We need to get a win. ... I‚??m moving forward. He‚??s not a focus at all.
‚??I wish him the best, but right now he‚??s not a part of this team. So it doesn‚??t matter.‚?Ě
Quarterback Matt McGloin said Kersey‚??s sudden exit came as a surprise to him. But like with the other players who have left in recent months, the team won‚??t dwell on it.
‚??It‚??s a tough loss for us,‚?Ě McGloin said. ‚??Shawney had his reasons, I‚??m sure. I wish him the best of luck with whatever he does.‚?Ě
Kersey, who had said he considered transferring earlier in his career, remains enrolled at Penn State. Because he has played this season for the Lions, he is not eligible for the transfer exemption granted to Penn State players under the NCAA sanctions, and would not be able to play for another team in 2012.
Because of the losses at the position in the offseason, Kersey was the Lions‚?? leading returning receiver with five catches in 2011. He had six receptions for 44 yards in two games this season. He finished his Penn State career with 12 catches for 154 yards.
Kersey‚??s starting job opposite No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson is now open.
True freshman Trevor Williams as well as juniors Brandon Felder and Christian Kuntz are among the candidates for the spot. All three have yet to catch a pass this season.
‚??I don‚??t know, to be honest with you,‚?Ě McGloin said when asked who will start. ‚??I have no doubt one of those guys steps up and gets the job done.‚?Ě
O‚??Brien has said he would try to redshirt WVC standout Eugene Lewis. But every bit of attrition to the team‚??s receiving corps increases his chances of seeing the field.
‚??With any true freshman, if you‚??re going to play those guys, then you‚??d better actually play them,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said last week.
Regardless of whether he‚??s on the field or on the sideline, Lewis will be easier to recognize now for WVC fans. Lewis has switched his uniform number from No. 16 to the familiar No. 7 he wore at Wyoming Valley West.
Quarterback/tight end Paul Jones had opened the season with the number but is now sporting No. 13.
While the Lions figure out what to do at receiver, they also have some short-term personnel issues to resolve.
‚?Ę Starting left tackle Donovan Smith did not practice on Monday or Tuesday, according to center Matt Stankiewitch. Multiple reports out of State College said Smith was not suited up at practice on Wednesday during the 15 minutes open to the media.
Smith, who is dealing with a foot injury, was not listed on Penn State‚??s injury report, but O‚??Brien said he was day-to-day. Penn State would go with Mike Farrell at left tackle and Adam Gress on the right side if Smith is unavailable.
‚?Ę Tailbacks Bill Belton and Derek Day were limited at practice Wednesday, according to reports. Zach Zwinak and fullback Michael Zordich were taking the early reps with the first-team offense.
‚?Ę Kicker Sam Ficken reportedly hit all five of his field goal attempts in the early portion of the practice.
Navy at Penn State
TV: 3:30 p.m., ABC, WNEP-16
Where: Beaver Stadium, State College
Last Meeting: Navy defeated PSU 7-6 on Sept. 21, 1974