Coach Bill O'Brien's brief tenure as Penn State football coach up to this point has shown promise. Recruiting has already been an improvement since O'Brien has been at the helm and a new offensive system is sure to be welcomed with open arms by the Nittany Lion faithful.
This week O'Brien gave the masses their first glimpse into what the Penn State squad will look when they take the field for the 2012 season. It's way too early to say this is what the depth chart will look come September 1st, but it's still the first official depth chart anybody has seen since O'Brien was hired.
1. Matt McGloin (6-1, 199, Gr/Sr), 2. Paul Jones (6-3, 245, Jr/So), 3. Rob Bolden (6-3, 214, Jr/Jr), 4. Shane McGregor (6-1, 200, Sr/Sr).
Well, I think everybody who knows anything about Penn State football saw this coming. It's no secret that McGloin was going to pick up O'Brien's new offense faster than the other quarterbacks. The criticism on McGloin is kind-of like beating an old drum so we'll just wait and see how he performs under O'Brien's new system. Paul Jones passes the "eye" test and he just looks like a strong and athletic quarterback, who can make big plays. He honestly looked the part at the blue/white game, but he definitely needs some polishing and game time experience. Bolden is just purely a mental mess at this point. He came in with a lot of hype and a lot of talent and just hasn't put it together. It's hard to see Bolden getting another shot to be the quarterback at Penn State.
Tailback: 1. Silas Redd (5-10, 200, Jr/Jr), 2. Bill Belton (5-10, 196, So/So), 3. Derek Day (5-9, 195, Sr/Sr), 4. Zach Zwinak (6-1, 226, Jr/So).
Fullback: 1.Michael Zordich (6-1, 242, Sr/Sr).
This is a pretty easy position to talk about because Silas Redd should be ready to have a banner year for the Nittany Lions. Redd burst onto the scene with 244 carries for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns. Bill Belton has been performing well in his new role as a runningback and look for freshman Akeel Lynch to see some touches when he joins the team in the summer.
Wide Receiver: 1. Justin Brown (6-3, 209, Sr/Sr), 2. Allen Robinson (6-3, 199, So/So), 3. Devon Smith (5-7, 147, Sr/Sr), 4. Shawney Kersey (6-1, 199, Sr/Jr), 5. Alex Kenney (6-0, 193, Jr/So).
Tight End: 1. Garry Gilliam (6-6, 277, Sr/Jr), 2. Jesse James (6-7, 265, Fr/Fr), 3. 87 Kyle Carter (6-3, 241, So/Fr), 4. Kevin Haplea (6-4, 248, Jr/Jr).
I really think this group has a lot of talent. Justin Brown has all the physical tools to be a big-time wide receiver so only time will tell if Brown can live up to his potential. Allen Robinson has been impressing a lot of coaches out at State College and Devon Smith provides a speedy threat at the slot position. The tight end spot is kind of a question mark at the moment, but O'Brien used the TE position maybe better than anybody as Offensive Coordinator of the Patriots last season. One thing is for sure they certainly have a lot of size at the TE spot.
LT - Donovan Smith (6-5, 310, So/Fr), LG - Dieff Mileenbach (6-3, 286, Jr/So) OR Marc Arcidiacono (6-4, 283, Sr/Jr), C - Matt Stankiewitch (6-3, 295, Sr/Sr), RG - John Urschel (6-3, 287, Gr/Jr), RT - Adam Gress (6-6, 306, Sr/Jr).
This group of offensive lineman is a big question mark going into 2012. The Nittany Lion offensive line improved as the season went on last year, but still showed some weaknesses against athletic defensive lines. Ex-Texas Offensive Line coach Mac McWhorter should definitely help Penn State improve their play up front.
LE - Sean Stanley (6-1, 247, Sr/Sr), DT - Jordan Hill (6-1, 298, Sr/Sr), DaQuan Jones (6-3,317, Jr/Jr), RE - Pete Massaro (6-4, 263, Gr/Sr).
Sean Stanley and Jordan Hill played and contributed a lot for the Nittany Lions defense last season. Stanley had 28 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2011 and Hill teamed up with Devon Still to form one of the best DT duos in the Big 10. Jones is unproven and Massaro, who showed promise in past seasons is coming off a serious knee injury.
OLB - Gerald Hodges (6-2, 233,Sr/Sr), MLB - Glenn Carson (6-3, 238, Jr/Jr) OR Khairi Fortt (6-2, 238, Jr/Jr), OLB - Michael Mauti (6-2, 239, Gr/Sr).
Linebacker U will definitely be represented well in 2012. There are playmakes all over the field for Penn State at the LB position. Gerald Hodges was a multiple Big 10 Defensive Player of the week last season and Glen Carson and Khairi Fortt are tackling machines. Fortt especially is an athletic specimen with a lot of speed. Mauti needs no introduction, as he is built in the mold of the recent greats like Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor, and Sean Lee.
LCB - Stephon Morris (5-8, 188, Sr/Sr), SS - Jake Fagnano (6-0, 201, Sr/Sr), FS - Malcolm Willis (5-11, 205,Sr/Jr), RCB - Adrian Amos (6-0, 209, So/So) OR Derrick Thomas (6-0,181, Sr/Jr).
This is another area of concern for the Nittany Lions. Stephon Morris is solid at the corner position along with Malcolm Willis, who played well last season at a couple different positions in secondary. Adrian Amos showed glimpses of greatness last season, but is still just a sophomore, which makes it interesting to see how he performs in 2012.