UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien released a depth chart heading into the season-opener against Syracuse on Monday.
The first depth chart of the fall season features nine senior starters (five on offense, three on defense and one specialist). With five days remaining until Saturday's opener, there are still positional battles up for grabs at practice this week.
On offense, both sophomore Tyler Ferguson and true freshman Christian Hackenberg share the top line on the depth chart at the quarterback position. Additionally, junior Garry Gilliam and senior Adam Gress are both listed atop the right tackle position.
On defense, senior Malcolm Willis and junior Ryan Keiser are competing for the starting assignment at one safety position alongside junior Adrian Amos.
The front seven of the defensive unit is headlined by senior defensive tackle DaQuan Jones and seniors middle linebacker Glenn Carson. Big Ten Freshman of the Year from 2012 Deion Barnes will start at one end position with junior C.J. Olaniyan on the top line at the second end spot.
In the linebacking corps, junior Mike Hull and redshirt freshman Nyeem Wartman will join Carson. The Nittany Lions will start a pair of sophomore cornerbacks in Trevor Williams and Jordan Lucas alongside Amos and Willis or Keiser at the safety positions.
On the offensive line, seniors Ty Howle (center) and John Urschel (right guard) will anchor the unit, which also features returnees Miles Dieffenbach (left guard) and Donovan Smith (right tackle). Juniors Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak and redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch headline the running back stable. Senior Pat Zerbe is the fullback.
The depth chart features four tight ends, which includes the standout trio of returnees - sophomore Jesse James (Y), senior Matt Lehman (Y) and sophomore Kyle Carter (Y/F). True freshman Adam Breneman joins the tight end group for 2013.
Junior Allen Robinson and senior Brandon Felder are the starting receivers listed on the depth chart, but look for contributions from a host of players. In addition to Robinson and Felder, redshirt freshman Eugene Lewis, junior Alex Kenney, sophomore Matt Zanellato and true freshman Richy Anderson are poised to play a key role at the wide receiver positions.
Junior Sam Ficken will kick, while senior Alex Butterworth will handle the punting duties. Howle is the kick snapper and Carson is the punt snapper.
There are 10 true freshmen listed on the three-deep depth chart. In addition to Hackenberg, Breneman and Anderson, the list includes tackle Andrew Nelson and quarterback D.J. Crook on offense and linebacker Brandon Bell and cornerbacks Jordan Smith and Anthony Smith on defense. Kicker Chris Gulla is listed behind Ficken at kicker and Von Walker is listed among five kickoff returners and three punt returners.
Penn State kicks off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday (ABC/ESPN2) against the Syracuse Orange inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Coach O'Brien also announced that five former run-ons have been added as scholarship players for the season. The following players are now on scholarship for the 2013-14 academic year:
Bryan Davie - Sr./Jr., G
Carl Nassib - Jr./So., DL
Devin Pryor - Sr./Jr., CB
Tyrone Smith - Sr./Jr., DT
Deron Thompson - Jr./So., RB
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