Penn State linebacker Nyeem Wartman will compete for a starting job this spring and will look to make a name for himself in 2013. With the graduations of star linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, the Nittany Lions need to find solid replacements.
Wartman showed promise as a true freshman in 2012 before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 2 at Virginia. In the first game of the year against Ohio, he displayed his athleticism by recording a tackle and blocking a punt.
Now healthy, he is primed to grab the open outside linebacker position and have a breakout season.
"He possesses excellent size with great bulk and really carries his weight well. Range is good. Hard downhill filler. Strong and stout at the point of attack. Jolts back blockers at the point of attack and holds his base. Punishing knock'em back tackler."
The same report also said that "Wartman is an impressive looking linebacker prospect with a striking blend of size and straight-line speed. A potential sleeper with the physical tools he presents to develop."
Wartman has an opportunity to impress the coaching staff this spring and nail down the starting job. With fellow linebacker Ben Kline unable to practice due to a shoulder injury, redshirt freshman Gary Wooten is the only competition.
True freshmen Brandon Bell and Zayd Issah could compete for playing time, but they won't be around until the summer.
Head coach Bill O'Brien already sounds like he's excited to see Wartman play this year. According to Greg Pickel on PennLive.com, O'Brien said, "Nyeem worked very hard this off-season. I'm looking forward to what he can do certainly."
Replacing two starting linebackers is a tall order. However, look for Wartman to join with Mike Hull and Glenn Carson to help lead the unit in 2013.