Before Penn State began the 2012 football season, the Lions had an established group of senior leaders.
In a video sent out at the end of July 2012, these senior players made a statement to the nation promising to stick together and “raise hell."
This year the Lions still face the tough task of continuing to rebuild after the NCAA placed sanctions on the program, and coach Bill O’Brien will need new leadership and production.
But with a new season comes new players stepping into a leadership role.
Gone are fifth-year seniors Michael Mauti and Matt McGloin who led Penn State through O’Brien’s first year at Penn State.
In 2013, a new, younger group of players will lead the team.
Here is a list of four players that O’Brien will have to lean on for both leadership and production.
Fullback Zach Zwinak emerged last season as Penn State’s leading rusher, finishing with 1,000 yards on the ground and six touchdowns. The sophomore proved himself throughout the year with his consistency and powerful running.
Next season Zwinak will need to continue to build on his success from 2012.
With new, young quarterbacks competing for a starting spot, a solid running game will be key for O’Brien’s offense.
Zwinak was a big part of the Lions’ offense in the second half of the season; he rushed for over 130 yards in Penn State’s final four games.
As a redshirt junior, Zwinak is one of the most experienced running backs on the depth chart in Happy Valley. In 2013 Zwinak will need to lead Penn State’s offense, especially early in the season while the Lions' new quarterback gains experience.
Senior Glenn Carson is Penn State’s only returning starter at the linebacker position.
Carson has been a starter since his sophomore season, and O’Brien will need Carson to lead the Nittany Lion defense.
With 85 tackles as a junior in 2012, Carson was the team’s third leading tackler behind Mauti and Gerald Hodges.
Both on and off the field Carson is capable of being the leader that Penn State needs on defense.
Penn State will be replacing four top players at linebacker, defensive line and corner.
The Lions will have a young defense with a new defensive coordinator, and Carson needs to be someone that O’Brien can lean on in 2013.
As one of the original “Supa Six,” corner Adrian Amos was a big part of holding together a defense with very little depth at defensive back.
In his first year as a full time starter Amos finished the year strong, recording 44 tackles and two interceptions.
The junior will need to continue developing into a playmaker for 2013.
O’Brien will be replacing senior corner Stephon Morris, and sophomore Da’Quan Davis will most likely be stepping into the starting role opposite Amos.
Penn State’s defense will need a lock-down corner, and Amos can be that player.
As O’Brien continues to rebuild his football team and push the program forward, Amos can be a big part of the progress.
The Lions return both safeties this season, but the Penn State pass defense was ranked 8th in the B1G in 2012.
In 2013 Amos will need to be Penn State’s top player in the secondary.
Junior Allen Robinson is going to be the most important player on Penn State’s offense next season.
With an inexperienced new quarterback, O’Brien most likely won’t put much weight on the passing game, especially early on in the season.
This means Robinson will need to find a way to make an impact.
As the B1G’s top receiver in 2012, Robinson showcased what he can do on the field.
What’s more important for the 2013 season is the chemistry that Robinson is able to create with whoever earns the starting job at quarterback.
O’Brien will be leaning on Robinson to be a go-to target for the new quarterback in Happy Valley.
Robinson is an exceptional athlete, and his leadership skills will be tested as Penn State transitions into the post-McGloin offense.