Penn State Football: 4 Underclassmen Who Will Bring Hope in 2012

Derek GerberichCorrespondent IJune 26, 2012

Penn State Football: 4 Underclassmen Who Will Bring Hope in 2012

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    The Penn State Nittany Lion Football program is hungry for a return to dominance.

    The fans crave it.  The students crave it.  The alumni crave it.

    Problem is, they need some help.  A sign of life, perhaps.

    Sure, Matt McGloin can meander his way through another 8-4 or even 9-3 season, but that's not what Happy Valley so desperately desires.

    They want a championship team.

    And if the Lions are going to be Rose Bowl bound in 2012, they are going to need some help from the underclassmen.  Here's a look at four who could provide a spark.

1. Bill Belton (RB)

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    Bill Belton caught the eye of Nittany Nation last season when the true freshman brought game-changing speed and agility out of Jay Paterno's Wildcat formation.

    This season, coach Bill O'Brien decided to implant Belton's talents in the backfield, making him the top backup to Silas Redd.  He also figures to return punts and kicks, and let's not forget—he was one of the top wide receivers of his recruiting class last season.

    Say hello to Penn State's newest and possibly most dangerous, offensive weapon.

    Just call him "Bullet Bill".

2. Donovan Smith (LT)

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    Want another reason to hope?

    I'll give you a 6'5", 315 pound reason.

    That reason would take the form of Donovan Smith.  Smith, a redshirt freshman, topped the opening depth chart at left tackle and will look to become a viable asset for the Nits as they try to patch up an offensive line that lost four starters from last year.

    A lineman at that size, with excellent feet and an ability to open up the running game for Silas Redd?  If that doesn't bring hope, that I don't know what else could.

3. Adrian Amos (CB)

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    Watching Adrian Amos play as a freshman last year was something special.

    He's just one of those guys.  You know what I'm talking about?

    I'm referring to those guys on your favorite sports teams who...are just so good...and so exciting to watch, that they make you feel proud to be a fan of their team.

    That's the best way I can describe Amos.  He gives me hope for our defense, hope for our secondary and heck, even hope for our offense at times.

    Don't just take my word for it, but observe that I'm not the only one taking notice.

4. Jesse James (TE)

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    I said my piece on Jesse James when I published an article highlighting four Penn State freshman sure to play big roles in 2012.

    But he still counts as an underclassman, which makes him eligible for this article as well.

    It's safe to say that I'm all in on Jesse James.

    I mean what's not to like about a 6'7", 265 pound tight end who can run a 4.70 in the 40 yard dash, and is currently working in Bill O'Brien's offensive scheme?

    Yeah, he could be good. Real good.

    That name is just icing on the cake.