Penn State Football: Players Who Will Step Up in Place of Those Who Transferred

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2012

Penn State Football: Players Who Will Step Up in Place of Those Who Transferred

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    Penn State has suffered through 10 transfers since the NCAA handed down their sanctions. Some are more important than others, but every single one sets an ominous tone entering this season.

    The Nittany Lions will rely on several players to step up in their absence. If they want to win six games this season, these players will have no choice but to play up to their potential.

    I'm going to take a nuts-and-bolts approach to this. Throw their prior statistics out the window. All bets are off in Happy Valley this year.

    Let's take a quick look at each player, who they're replacing and what you can expect this season.

     

    *View list of Penn State transfers here.

Bill Belton

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    Bill Belton will bear the largest responsibility in Happy Valley. He must replace their best offensive player in Silas Redd, and he must do it in his first year as a running back.

    I think he's up to the task. He has exceptional quickness, and he's an excellent athlete in the open field.

    Nittany Lion fans won't ever mistake him for Redd, but don't be shocked if Belton sniffs somewhere between 850 and 1,000 yards this season.

Alex Butterworth

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    Alex Butterworth is who I expect to punt balls this season for Penn State, but they're going to miss Anthony Fera. 

    Fera averaged 42 yards per punt last season. He's one of the most underrated legs in the nation because of his versatility, and Penn State's offense may need a change of field as much as possible.

    Butterworth is a junior, but he's inexperienced. At this point, Penn State fans just need to hope he does a consistent job. Replacing Fera's production this season isn't going to happen.

Mike Hull

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    Mike Hull had 18 tackles as a freshman last season, and he will assume a larger role this year with Khairi Fortt out of the picture.

    Neither player would have started, but Penn State's linebackers play the largest role in their defense. Given Michael Mauti's injury history, it's important to have quality depth in line.

    Hull is your typical Penn State linebacker. He's instinctual, smart and a sound tackler. 

    The Nittany Lions will be just fine with him waiting in the wings.

Allen Robinson

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    Allen Robinson will start in place of Justin Brown this season, according to ESPN.com. He only caught three passes last season, but he has the frame to excel.

    Robinson is a lanky 6'3''. He's athletic, catches the ball at its highest point and can stretch the field vertically. I actually think he has more upside than Brown because his hands are more consistent.

    Replacing Brown is tough with inexperience waiting in the wings, but Robinson is very intriguing. He has what it takes to succeed right away.

Shawney Kersey

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    Shawney Kersey was supposed to contribute last season, but that never came to fruition. Now he's going to need to produce with Brown out of the picture.

    Kersey doesn't have Robinson's height, but he's very quick. He has to improve his consistency, and his routes need to be more precise, but he has a ton of raw athleticism.

    Look for Kersey to get better as the year rolls along. If he can force himself to polish his game, he could develop into a solid No. 2 option for Matt McGloin.

Sam Ficken

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    Sam Ficken has the place-kicking duties on lockdown for the Nittany Lions, and that eventually won't be a bad thing.

    He went 1-of-2 as a freshman kicker last season, so at least he has some level of experience.

    What I said for Butterworth also goes for Ficken. Expecting him to replace Fera in terms of production this season is unrealistic, but the Nittany Lions will need his leg.

    In an offense that will struggle to score, Ficken's three-point kicks could make all the difference.