Penn State Football: 5 Nittany Lions Who'll Be All-Big Ten First Teamers in 2013
The Penn State Nittany Lions head into the 2013 season with a lot of confidence and will look to build on the success of last season. Penn State returns several veterans who will play a key role in keeping the momentum going. Five current players should find themselves on the All-Big Ten first team at the end of this season.
Last season ended with an impressive record of 8-4 and saw several Nittany Lions, including head coach Bill O'Brien, win individual awards. Seven players were named to the All-Big Ten teams in 2012.
Three of those players will be returning to action in 2013 and will be cornerstones to the continued success of the team.
While Penn State has the luxury of a somewhat favorable schedule during the upcoming season, there will be several key holes left by graduation that will need to be filled. All players will need to be ready to step in at anytime and perform at the highest level.
The following players, who will need to be leaders, will have productive 2013 seasons and be rewarded by the Big Ten Conference at season's end.
1. WR Allen Robinson
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Allen Robinson had a breakout season in 2012 when he racked up 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns. Both of those numbers led the conference. His remarkable season ended with him earning in All-Big Ten honors.
He will look to build on his successful 2012 campaign and repeat the success in 2013.
Sure, the Penn State offense will have a different look at the quarterback position this season, but that shouldn't mean less success for Robinson.
If anything, the new starting quarterback will look to the veteran wide receiver as a reliable target.
Robinson is a special talent. He has the speed to be a deep threat and also possesses the playmaking ability to take a short pass and turn it into a big gain.
His numbers could dip a bit, especially since he will be the focal point of most defenses, but regardless, look for Robinson to continue to develop and once again be the top receiver in the Big Ten.
2. TE Kyle Carter
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Perhaps no one was more of a surprise for the Nittany Lions in 2013 than tight end Kyle Carter. Rivals.com ranked him as just a 2-star recruit coming out of high school in Delaware and he was given a redshirt in 2011.
However, it didn't take long for the big target to find success in Bill O'Brien's NFL-style passing offense.
The redshirt freshman caught six passes for 74 yards in the 2012 season-opener and showed that he would be a main weapon for Penn State moving forward. Carter finished the year as the second-leading receiver on the team with 453 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
His freshman season earned him an All-Big Ten First Team Media selection.
Carter will once again be a major part of the Penn State offense in 2013. He has shown the ability to make the tough catches and can also stretch a defense.
O'Brien's offense makes use of the tight ends in the passing game and Carter will take advantage of that and continue to be a key member of the offense.
3. G John Urschel
Rob Christy-USA TODAY Sports
Senior guard John Urschel returns to the Nittany Lions in 2013 to be an anchor on the offensive line. He started every game last season and earned All-Big Ten honors.
Not only is he a great football player, but he completed his undergraduate studies in three years and finished with a 4.0 GPA. That earned him the title of Academic All-American.
While those at the skill positions are the ones who get all the publicity, the offensive line is the solid core of the offense. Penn State will rely heavily on its line in 2013 to provide protection for an inexperienced quarterback.
Last season, Penn State struggled to run the ball in the early part of the season. However, by midseason, the offensive line hit its stride and in turn, the running game improved.
Running back Zach Zwinak finished the season with four straight games of over 100 yards rushing. That can be attributed to the guys on the line, especially Urschel, who plays a key role in the run game from the guard position.
Urschel will provide senior leadership and a strong foundation up front for the Nittany Lions.
4. CB Adrian Amos
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Adrian Amos is still waiting for his breakout season. In his two years at Penn State, he has been a very solid defensive back but has yet to reach his full potential.
2013 will be the year that he makes a name for himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the Big Ten.
Last season, Amos started every game and recorded 44 tackles. He also led all defensive backs on the team with two interceptions, including one that he returned 54 yards in the game against Indiana.
With the losses of seniors Jordan Hill, Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, Amos will be looked at as a leader on defense this year for the Nittany Lions.
He will likely find himself matched up with every opponent's best receiver, giving him an opportunity to prove his ability. Shutting down top receivers and providing good tackling ability on the outside edge will make people around the Big Ten notice him.
Amos is primed for a big season and will finish the year on the All-Big Ten team.
5. DE Deion Barnes
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Deion Barnes has a lot of expectations to live up to in 2013. The defensive end had a stellar 2012 season and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Barnes led the Nittany Lions with six sacks and 10 tackles for loss. He finished the year with 26 total tackles as well as three forced fumbles.
With 2012 defensive line leaders Jordan Hill and Sean Stanley graduated, it will be up to Barnes to take on more of a leadership role in 2013. Only Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones returns as the only other defensive lineman who started for Penn State last season.
The sophomore end has already shown the ability to be a dominant force on the Penn State defensive line. He is only going to become better as he grows and develops.
Look for Barnes to once again receive recognition at the end of the year, this time being named to the All-Big Ten team.