Penn State Football: 5 Players with Most to Gain in Spring Practices

Colin Tansits@@colin_tansitsContributor IMarch 3, 2013

Penn State Football: 5 Players with Most to Gain in Spring Practices

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    At Penn State, another spring means that the Lions and coach Bill O’Brien are taking another step forward towards rebuilding the program.

    As spring practices enter the horizon, a new season full of new opportunities is in the near future for many young players. There will undoubtedly be changes from last year, and many players have the chance to prove themselves early. A quarterback competition along with replacing two linebacker spots will make for an exciting year for many players who are waiting for their turn.

    Here are five players who can earn that chance this spring.

Adam Breneman

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    Top tight end prospect Adam Breneman has a lot to prove this spring.

    After being ranked as one of the top tight ends of the 2013 class, Breneman didn’t play his senior year at Cedar Cliff High School.

    Breneman enrolled for the spring at Penn State and can participate in spring practices.

    As one of the top signings for O’Brien this year, Breneman will have a chance to show why he was ranked as the top tight end.

    If Breneman is healthy and as good as advertised, he can work his way into a serious role by next September.

Nyeem Wartman

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    Linebacker Nyeem Wartman is a bit of a dark horse at the linebacker spot.

    Wartman made an early impact by blocking a punt in his first game and he saw some time as a true freshman.

    But a knee injury prevented Wartman from getting any time on the field since.

    There are two spots to fill at linebacker and even though Mike Hull should be stepping into one, Wartman has the talent to step into the other outside linebacker position.

    Wartman is believed to be the front-runner to earn the starting role.

    He can earn that spot this spring.

Akeel Lynch

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    Aside from Wartman, running back Akeel Lynch may be the other most anticipated unknown player in Happy Valley.

    Lynch wasn’t a big recruit out of high school, and didn’t play at all last year.

    Even with the injuries at running back in 2012, O’Brien redshirted Lynch, saying he has a “Great future” at Penn State.

    Well, that future can begin this spring.

    Although Zach Zwinak is the incumbent at the running back spot after rushing for 1,000 yards last year, Lynch can be the second part of a one-two punch for the Lions.

    Lynch can go from having a good future to being a top rusher at Penn State, if he has a good spring.

Tyler Ferguson

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    JUCO quarterback Tyler Ferguson has the opportunity to come right into to Happy Valley and win the starting job.

    As you may know, I’m pretty high on Ferguson earning the starting role right now if Christian Hackenberg decides to redshirt next season.

    But if Ferguson is to be the passer for the Lions he will need to earn it in the spring.

    The California product has the tools, but he will need to put it all together – and learn O’Brien’s playbook.

    O’Brien named the starter early last year with Matt McGloin.

    Don’t be surprised if he does it again.

Steven Bench

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    For being the only experienced quarterback at Penn State, Steve Bench has gotten little love.

    Bench saw very little time behind McGloin, and didn’t do much in his limited action.

    The Georgia product was not a big recruit in the 2012 class, doesn’t quite have the size that Ferguson or Hackenberg posses.

    Nonetheless Bench knows O’Brien’s system and will be going into the spring knowing what to expect.

    ESPN’s Recruiting Nation says that Bench flew under the radar because of his high school’s hybrid Wing-T offense.

    We will all have to see how the quarterback competition fares in Happy Valley, and Bench is the frontrunner at least for now.

    Bench can win the job and prove people (like me) wrong this spring.