Penn State Depth Chart - Aug. 26
Press Conference Roundup - UCF Week | James Franklin Transcript - Aug. 26
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin released a depth chart heading into the season-opener against UCF on Tuesday afternoon.
The first depth chart of the fall season features six senior starters (one on offense, four on defense and one specialist). With four days remaining until Saturday's opener, there are still positional battles up for grabs at practice this week.
On offense, both redshirt sophomore Derek Dowrey and redshirt freshman Brendan Mahon are both listed on the top line at left guard. Dowrey moved from the defensive line to guard prior to spring practice. Mahon made great strides on the scout team last season.
On defense, juniors Trevor Williams and Da'Quan Davis head into the season-opener in Ireland sharing the top line at the cornerback position opposite junior Jordan Lucas. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop praised the improvement both Williams and Davis have made during camp when he addressed the media on Monday.
The front seven of the defensive unit is headlined by senior defensive end C.J. Olaniyan and junior defensive end Deion Barnes. The defensive line boasts one of the most experienced units on the depth chart, with Olaniyan and Barnes joined by junior tackle Anthony Zettel and redshirt sophomore tackle Austin Johnson.
In the linebacking corps, senior Mike Hull is the centerpiece with sophomores Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell lining up alongside him. Shoop noted Wartman as a player that took his game to another level during preseason practice. Seniors Adrian Amos and Ryan Keiser will anchor the back of the defense at the safety positions.
On offense, 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Christian Hackenberg will direct the offense for the second-straight season at quarterback. Penn State's running back corps features a host of talent, including seniors Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak. Sophomore Akeel Lynch and sophomore Cole Chiappialle will look for playing time, as well.
The projected starting offensive line includes junior Angelo Mangiro at center, sophomore Brian Gaia at right guard, Dowrey or Mahon at left guard, junior Donovan Smith at left tackle and redshirt freshman Andrew Nelson at right tackle.
The depth chart features six tight ends, including returnees Jesse James and Kyle Carter, who are two of Penn State's most experienced offensive players. Redshirt sophomore Brent Wilkerson and true freshman Mike Gesicki will likely see action at tight end, as well.
Sophomore Geno Lewis and redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton are the starting receivers listed on the depth chart, but look for contributions from a host of players. In addition to Lewis and Hamilton, junior Matt Zanellato and true freshmen Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin are poised to play a key role at the wide receiver positions.
Senior Sam Ficken will kick, while redshirt freshman Chris Gulla is listed as the top punter. Keiser is the top holder, while sophomore Tyler Yazujian is the kick snapper. Lynch and Lewis are listed as the top two kickoff returners, and Lucas and Della Valle are the top two punt returners.
There are 17 true freshmen listed on the three-deep depth chart, including Blacknall (WR), Godwin (WR), Trace McSorley (QB), Chasz Wright (RT), Jason Cabinda (LB), Grant Haley (CB) and Danny Pasquariello (P), who are all on the second line at their respective positions.
Penn State kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday (ESPN2) against the UCF Knights inside Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland. The trip to Dublin marks Penn State's first international game.
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