Penn State Football Recruiting: 5 Positions the Nittany Lions Don't Need to Fill
Bill O'Brien is behind the eight-ball in the recruiting world this offseason.
O'Brien has to deal with the repercussions of the upheaval surrounding Penn State's program this season. He also must split his focus for two more weeks while the New England Patriots prepare for their Super Bowl matchup with the New York Giants.
Penn State currently has 19 commitments. They are hoping to get through National Signing Day with that number intact.
O'Brien has needs he would like to fill on Penn State's roster. Their offensive line loses four starters, their secondary loses multiple contributors and Devon Still's massive frame must be replaced in the middle of the defensive line.
The Nittany Lions do have talent returning in other places, and that should make the burden a little lighter for O'Brien this offseason.
Here are five positions Penn State does not need to fill this recruiting season:
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Penn State is loaded at linebacker year in and year out. Next season will be no different whether they land fresh faces or not.
The entire starting group returns. Glenn Carson will command the middle with Gerald Hodges and the hopefully-healthy Michael Mauti flanking him to the outside.
Mike Hull and Khairi Fortt will provide two very talented backups to the Penn State depth chart, with Ben Kline vying for snaps as well.
Linebacker Nyeem Wartman is Penn State's singular verbal commitment on the recruiting trail at the moment. He will add depth and possibly help on special teams early in his career as long as he signs his letter of intent.
Penn State always has a plethora of talent roaming the field at linebacker. Next season will be another chapter in the Nittany Lions' storied history as "Linebacker U."
Courtesy of readingeagle.com
Penn State will be without all but one of their 2011 offensive linemen heading into next season.
Other than left tackle, the center position is the most important position up front for an offense. He is a second set of eyes for the quarterback and adjusts protection schemes at the line of scrimmage.
The Nittany Lions should be happy their top two centers from 2011 will be in Happy Valley again next season.
Matt Stankiewitch figures to be the starter at center once again. He should be better in his final collegiate season and will be leaned upon heavily. His veteran presence will be needed on an otherwise green group up front.
Ty Howle will provide back-up duties along with versatile lineman Miles Dieffenbach.
An offense is only as successful as its quarterback. A quarterback is only as successful as his offensive line.
Penn State's line should be good to go at center while the rest of the group gains experience.
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Derek Moye graduates Penn State as one of the best receivers in the program's history. Luckily for Penn State, Moye is the extent of their defections from the receiving core.
Justin Brown is a capable and experienced option to replace Moye as the team's No. 1 receiver. If he can be more consistent, he has the size to create problems on the outside for opposing teams.
Shawney Kersey, Devon Smith, Bill Belton and Curtis Drake provide speed to the Penn State receiving core. This group does not have Brown's size, but they give the Nittany Lions versatility in their spread offense.
Brandon Moseby-Felder and Allen Robinson will also be in the mix next season.
Penn State already has a few verbal commitments set to arrive at wide receiver next season. All are ho-hum options, other than Eugene Lewis.
The Nittany Lions do not have a sure-fire quarterback to deliver the ball just yet, but the receiving core is there whenever that situation is solved.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Nittany Lions will be without Eric Latimore and Jack Crawford next season, but that does not mean the cupboard is bare at defensive end.
Sean Stanley returns from a 4.5-sack 2011 campaign. He should play a major role off of the edge in his senior season in Happy Valley.
Pete Massaro was one of Penn State's best pass-rushers in 2010, but missed the 2011 season with a torn ACL. His added presence next season offers Penn State a veteran presence to terrorize Big Ten quarterbacks.
Kyle Baublitz, Deion Barnes and C.J. Olaniyan will vie for time in back-up roles, as could undersized defensive tackles Anthony Alosi, Anthony Zettel and Luke Graham.
Penn State is not incredibly deep at defensive end, but there are capable players in the mix. Stanley and Massaro will do their share with contributions from the younger players behind them on the depth chart.
Courtesy of pennlive.com
Hear me out before you jump down my throat and ask me if I actually watched Penn State play any offensive downs this season.
Matt McGloin was bad behind center this season, and Rob Bolden was worse in his limited opportunities. Both will return to the fold next season and will see the field more than necessary.
Paul Jones was academically ineligible for the 2011 season, but figures to be in the thick of the quarterback race this season. If he can get his head on straight, Jones will be the favorite to start behind center within the Nittany Lion fanbase.
The Nittany Lions currently have two quarterbacks set to arrive next season. If they sign their letters of intent on Feb. 1, Skyler Mornhinweg and Steven Bench will add depth to Penn State's quarterbacks.
It is too late for new head coach Bill O'Brien to get his guy behind center for next season. Penn State is better off waiting until next season to chase a blue-chip signal-caller.
Until then, the new coaching staff needs to give Jones a heavy look in spring practice.