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2010 Unit Preview: Specialists

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before the All-Sports Blog switches to the offensive side of the ball, we are going to focus on the Nittany Lion specialists in today's unit preview.


There were several lasting images from the Capital One Bowl that will stick out in the minds of Penn State football fans.  The rain-soaked, sloppy sod in Orlando tops the list.  The field conditions presented a unique challenge for everyone on the field, but one man in particular.



Collin Wagner weathered the elements with four made field goals, including the game-winner with 57 seconds on the clock to hand Penn State a 19-17 victory over LSU.  The junior place kicker heads into 2010 with a great deal of confidence after a superb performance in the bowl game.  Wagner spoke to the blog during the offseason about working on his leg strength to improve accuracy from 40 yards and out.  With a full season under his belt, the State College native is eager to take another step forward this fall.


With Jeremy Boone graduating in the spring, the starting punter slot on the depth chart was up for grabs heading into the preseason.  Redshirt freshman Anthony Fera is the leading candidate to secure the starting job.  The Cypress, Texas, native has a big leg and is poised to lock down the starting spot.  Redshirt sophomore Russell Nye will join Fera on the depth chart at punter.


Kicking attempts were like clockwork throughout 2009 with superb snaps and holds.  But the Nittany Lions will be breaking in a new kick snapper in 2010 with the graduation of Andrew Pitz.  Stefen Wisniewski and Emery Etter are the likely candidates to handle the snapping duties.  Receiver Brett Brackett is atop the depth chart for the holding duties.


The return game can be a weapon for any football team.  Look for Chaz Powell and Stephfon Green to return kickoffs, with Justin Brown and Graham Zug on the field to handle the punt returns.  Devon Smith will likely see time in the return game, as well.


Blog's Take

Special teams play is an area Coach Paterno would like to see more consistency from in 2010.  A breakdown in coverage or a missed blocking assignment on a special teams play can alter the outcome of a game.  Case in point is the Iowa game from 2009.  Wagner will have another strong season in the kicking game.  But consistency in the other areas of the special teams unit is key for the 2010 Nittany Lions.   With the speed in the return game, the Lions have the potential to put points on the board on special teams plays throughout the fall.


Preseason Depth Chart:


30            Anthony Fera (6-2, 212, So/Fr)

29            Russell Nye (6-0, 163, Jr/So)



36            Collin Wagner (5-9, 178, Sr/Sr)

30            Anthony Fera (6-2, 212, So/Fr)

28            David Soldner (6-1, 222, Jr/So)



83            Brett Brackett (6-6, 234, Gr/Sr)


Kick Snapper

61            Stefen Wisniewski (6-3, 298, Sr/Sr)

57            Emery Etter (6-1, 230, So/Fr)

60            Ty Howle (6-0, 290, So/Fr)


Kickoff Returners

2              Chaz Powell (6-1, 193, Sr/Jr)

21            Stephfon Green (5-10, 197, Sr/Jr)


Punt Returners

19            Justin Brown (6-3, 213, So/So)

5              Graham Zug (6-2, 183, Sr/Sr)



The offensive line is tomorrow.

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