The Penn State Nittany Lions are winding down spring practice for the 2013 season. There's just one week remaining before the annual Blue-White Game, which is scheduled for April 20.
That's means that time is running out for players to impress the coaching staff and gain an early leg up on the competition for certain positions. Established starters are trying to prove they still belong, while unproven youngsters are hungry to show what they can do.
It's important for the coaches to make the appropriate decisions when setting the depth chart for the upcoming season. Spring practice is a time to figure out what's already available and what may be coming down the road.
With one week remaining, let's take a look at the rising or falling stock of certain players.
Defensive end C. J. Olaniyan seems to be working towards the starting position left vacant by the graduated Sean Stanley. Olaniyan was pegged by Pete Young on PennLive.com months ago as the projected starter for 2013.
So far, it doesn't seem like he's done anything to make anyone think otherwise. The redshirt junior was praised by his head coach earlier this week during a live blog on ESPN.com that was hosted by Ivan Maisel. Bill O'Brien was asked to name some players who he's been impressed with this spring, and Olaniyan was one of those named.
The defensive end started one game in 2012 and played in a total of 10. He finished the season with 15 tackles and one sack.
Coming into college in 2010, Olaniyan was rated as a 4-star recruit by Rivals.com. His Recruiting Nation scouting report stated, "Olaniyan is a good prospect who displays upside still. He has good size and ability and could be a good college defensive end."
Olaniyan is going to get his chance in 2013 to show he can be a solid starter at the collegiate level.
Four tight ends saw significant playing time for the Nittany Lions in 2012. Kyle Carter led the way with 453 receiving yards. Penn State is absolutely stacked at tight end this season. With Carter, Jesse James and Matt Lehman all returning. Garry Gilliam has been moved to offensive tackle, freeing up a spot.
While it may be unfair to say the returning tight ends have seen their stock drop this spring, as all played big parts in the success of the team a year ago.
However, a closer look reveals that it's a reality.
Carter is not in camp, as he's still rehabbing a wrist injury. That has opened the door this spring for redshirt freshman Brent Wilkerson.
The DeMatha Catholic product has really impressed this so far. As Bob Flounders wrote on PennLive.com, O'Brien stated, "I can tell you that we really think highly of (Wilkerson), he's a dynamic young player that we think (he) is going to really help us next year."
Aside from Wilkerson, true freshman Adam Breneman could also take playing time away from returning guys. The 4-star recruit is highly touted and will be a talented target for whoever is at quarterback. Breneman is still a question mark though, as he could redshirt to allow more rehab time for a severe knee injury he suffered last year.
There's no question that the Nittany Lions are stacked with talented tight ends. The problem is going to be finding enough minutes in a game to use all of them.
Glenn Carson is the only returning starter at linebacker for the Nittany Lions this year. He started every game last year and finished third on the team with 85 tackles.
The senior brings experience and will be looked to as a leader in 2013. He will be the play-caller on defense for new defensive coordinator John Butler. The defense must replace four starters from 2012, including All-Big Ten linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti.
Carson's leadership skills have already been shown this spring, as he's helped linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden teach the younger players. Carson told Greg Pickel on PennLive.com,
I've been helping Coach Vanderlinden. He has his hands full because he has a lot of young players who are having a tough time learning the concepts and getting the fundamentals down. So I'm helping the guys."
The Nittany Lions will need Carson to be a big part of the defense this year. So far, he seems up to the task.
With C.J. Olaniyan seeming to have a defensive end position locked up and the emergence of redshirt freshman Austin Johnson this spring at defensive tackle, Anthony Zettel could be the odd man out on the Penn State defensive line.
Two of the four spots were all but settled before practice began, as the Nittany Lions return 2012 starters Da'Quan Jones and Deion Barnes.
Zettel is a talented lineman who can play both end and tackle, but seems destined to once again come off the bench. Last season, he played in all 12 games and made 15 tackles. He finished the year tied for third on the team with four sacks.
It's safe to say that Zettel will see plenty of playing time along the Penn State defensive line. However, it's unlikely to be in a starting role, as those ahead of him have already had strong practices.