Penn State Football: 4 Recruits with Best Shot to Start for Lions in 2013

John McGonigal@@jmcgonigal9Correspondent IIDecember 10, 2012

Penn State Football: 4 Recruits with Best Shot to Start for Lions in 2013

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    Following the sanctions levied on the Penn State football program, many wondered how they'd be able to convince kids to come play in this type of situation.

    Now, people have been left wondering not only how Bill O'Brien kept the players already committed, but also how he continues to add more depth to the 2013 class.

    As reported by Blue-White Illustrated, the Nittany Lions added three more commits after an important recruiting weekend, highlighted by Christian Hackenberg, Adam Breneman and other members of the class attending the Penn State men's basketball game on Saturday.

    Regardless of the number of stars or ranking, these 16 verbal commitments are expected to eventually play a role on the Lions in the next four years.

    However, who will wait and who will play right away?

    Not saying these guys will definitely start, but let's take a look at what 2013 recruits have the best chance to earn a starting job come next season.

Christian Hackenberg, QB

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    Even though I think Christian Hackenberg and fellow recruit Adam Breneman should redshirt, I still think they both have great chances of starting in 2013.

    After losing starting quarterback Matthew McGloin along with two backups due to graduation, the job under center is wide open for 2013.

    Even though Steven Bench—the only returning signal-caller next year—showed signs of potential against Virginia this season, the quarterback position is Hackenberg's job if he doesn't redshirt.

    First of all, the Virginia native is the nation's No. 1 overall gunslinger, and he's proven to be extremely committed to O'Brien and the Penn State program, so he has that working for him. 

    On tape, the 6'4" high schooler looks phenomenal and ready to take over the quarterback job.

    It's just a matter of whether or not O'Brien will redshirt him to let him get acclimated to the playbook, etc.

Adam Breneman, TE

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    As previously mentioned, I think Breneman should be redshirted, primarily because he tore his ACL before his senior season got underway. Considering the depth the Lions have at tight end, it doesn't make much sense to rush him back.

    However, he is the No. 1 tight end recruit in the country, and has the potential to be a phenomenal target at the college level.

    Breneman is a 6'4" monster who presents a huge, reliable target for whoever will be his quarterback, giving him a chance to see significant playing time immediately.

    Will that land him a starting role in 2013? Considering the type of season Kyle Carter had, there's no way he gets jumped on the depth chart.

    But if Breneman is healthy and can live up to his potential, there's the possibility he starts as the Lions' No. 2 tight end and gets a healthy chunk of playing time over Jesse James and Matt Lehman.

Zayd Issah, LB

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    As I pointed out in the introduction, this past weekend was huge for Penn State recruiting and perhaps the biggest reason linebacker Zayd Issah was committing—again.

    Issah, a Harrisburg product, re-committed to the Lions after opening his recruitment up to all schools following the sanctions.

    The 3-star linebacker also had offers from Oregon, Iowa, and Pitt, among other schools.

    With Michael Mauti expected to move on from Penn State and Gerald Hodges departing as well, the linebacking corps will look quite different next year.

    Glenn Carson will remain a mainstay in the middle, while Mike Hull should step into a starting role on the outside.

    However, Issah should come in next year and compete for the second starting outside linebacker position—and don't be surprised if he does more than just compete.

Garrett Sickels, DE

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    Even though Jordan Hill got the majority of the press for the Lions' defensive line, defensive ends Pete Massaro and Sean Stanley were two key figures on the front four in 2012 despite injuries.

    Though Massaro and Stanley graduate after this season, the Lions aren't in the bad shape at end.

    Redshirt freshman Deion Barnes was essentially a starter this year, and C.J. Olaniyan showed glimpses of athletic, instinctive play this past season.

    Regardless, look for 2013 commit Garrett Sickels to challenge Olaniyan for the second starting spot as he comes in with high praise.

    While Hackenberg and Breneman get most of the hype, Sickels is a great verbal commit whose vast ceiling is inferred when realizing the kind of schools that offered him scholarships: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

    After looking at his tape and seeing what all these schools saw in him, it should be interesting to see how he pans out under the tutelage of Larry Johnson Sr.