UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The long wait for football to return in Happy Valley is over. Welcome to game week for the 2011 Penn State football season.
The Nittany Lions have been on the practice field since Aug. 4 prepping for the 125th season on the gridiron. On Monday, Coach Paterno released the final preseason depth chart leading up to Saturday's clash with Indiana State.
The coaching staff will again spend the week evaluating several spots on the depth chart. For now, let's take a look at some of the notable items on the latest depth chart.
- Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin are currently sharing the top line at the quarterback position. As we have written throughout the preseason, both Bolden and McGloin have split reps with the first team at practice. Both players have looked much more comfortable under center after a season of game experience.
- Senior guard DeOn'tae Pannell has emerged on the top line at left guard after a strong preseason. Sophomore John Urschel and senior Johnnie Troutman are vying for the starting spot at right guard for Saturday's opener. Seniors Quinn Barham and Chima Okoli have been consistent at the tackle positions during preseason practice, as has junior Matt Stankiewitch at center.
- Take note of Nate Cadogan moving back to tackle (behind Barham at LT) after playing tight end during the 2010 season and during spring practice. With the depth at both positions, the coaching staff moved Cadogan back to the offensive line.
- Silas Redd is poised for a strong sophomore campaign at the tailback position. Redd and junior Brandon Beachum will see the bulk of the carries on Saturday. Additionally, sophomore Curtis Dukes is primed to play a role in the running game. Senior tailback Stephfon Green is back on the roster, as well.
- Penn State will field a deep corps of wide receivers in 2011. Redshirt sophomore Shawney Kersey has taken a significant step forward during preseason practice. Kersey will play a big role at receiver, alongside veterans Derek Moye and Justin Brown. Look for Devon Smith to play a key role in the rotation, as well. After battling injury throughout the 2010 season, senior Andrew Szczerba is back healthy at tight end.
- Freshmen wide receivers Bill Belton and Allen Robinson have put themselves in a position to potentially earn playing time during the early stages of the season after a strong preseason practice period.
- It is worth noting that depending on the formation for the opening play of Saturday's game, the Nittany Lions could start with three wide receivers or a tight end (Szczerba) and/or a fullback (Joe Suhey or Michael Zordich).
- It has been a long road back to the starting lineup for defensive ends Eric Latimore and Jack Crawford, who both battled injuries last fall. Latimore, Crawford and Sean Stanley have all spent time with the first team during preseason practice. Devon Still and Jordan Hill have the potential to be a potent duo in the middle of the defensive line.
- At linebacker, the most notable change since the post-spring depth chart is Michael Mauti shifting to outside linebacker and sophomore Glenn Carson moving to the top spot at middle linebacker. Carson is another Nittany Lion who has played very well during the preseason. Additionally, Gerald Hodges (OLB) is poised to play a big role on the defense in 2011. Sophomore Khairi Fortt has shifted from outside linebacker to the middle.
- The Nittany Lion secondary is the most experienced group on the Penn State depth chart. The starting rotation of D'Anton Lynn (CB), Chaz Powell (CB), Nick Sukay (FS) and Drew Astorino (Hero) will make up an all-senior defensive backfield. After playing receiver for much of his career, Powell is relatively new to the secondary, but Pennsylvania native has found a home at corner. Veteran corner Stephon Morris and safeties Malcolm Wilis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong bring significant game experience to the secondary, as well.
- Like the wide receiving corps, freshman cornerback Adrian Amos has played well during the preseason and will potentially see action during the early portion of the season.
- Sophomore Alex Butterworth has been the primary punter during preseason practice. Butterworth stepped in for injured Anthony Fera in the final three games of 2010. The Indiana native averaged 38.1 yards on 12 kicks last season.
- Former wide receiver Evan Lewis has exhibited consistency during the preseason as a placekicker. Lewis has made a superb adjustment following three seasons as wide out. Freshman kicker Sam Ficken has also shown a strong leg, and he will vie for playing time early in the season.
- Center Ty Howle will handle the snapping duties on field goals and PATs, while senior Jon Rohrbaugh will handle the punt snapping.
- Chaz Powell and Devon Smith bring superb speed to the special teams unit on kickoff returns. Justin Brown and Smith will play a significant role in the punt return game.
Check out the full depth chart here:
Head coach Joe Paterno will meet the media on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.
Stay tuned for much more on GoPSUsports.com as we close in on the Indiana State game.
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