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With kickoff now just 100 days away, it is never too early to start predicting the depth charts for Penn State, right?
Today we take a peak at what the offensive side of the ball may look like when the regular season kicks off. For now we will just look at the depth chart two deep, meaning the probable starters and their primary backups. Tomorrow we will take a look at the defensive side of the ball.
As this is purely a prediction, I will mark my locks for depth chart spots in bold. Certain position battles will also be highlighted.
Daryll Clark/Kevin Newsome - Already named the captain for this year's football team Daryll Clark looks to lead Penn State to their first ever back-to-back Big Ten championship trophy.
Clark will miss the senior corp of wide receivers of Jordan Norwood, Deon Butler and Derrick Williams, but he should have the ability to guide the younger receivers and allow them to grow.
Staying healthy will be key on offense of course, and that statement is best demonstrated at the quarterback position. Should Clark go down Joe Paterno may have to go with freshman Kevin Newsome.
Newsome is the popular pick to be the primary clip board holder on the sideline in 2009, but Paterno could be tempted to go with red shirt freshman Matt McGloin. Expect Newsome to be the first back up option though, and maybe even worked in to some trick plays down the line.
Evan Royster/Stephfon Green - Evan Royster emerged last season as the top running back for the Nittany Lions, and 2009 figures to be a solid year for Royster once again. Though he sprained his ankle in the Rose Bowl he has been participating in practice sessions.
As long as Green recovers from his Rose Bowl injury, he may have the best chance to be the second running back in the mix. Competition will come from Brandon Beachum though.
Beachum was able to join in spring practice drills while Green sat out to rehab. Beachum impressed the coaches in spring drills but Green has more experience on the field.
Green had over 100 attempts last season and had a rushing average of 5.5 yards per rush. Beachum only rushed the ball 28 times, but it will be interesting to see how he fares in camp against Green before the season starts.
Joe Suhey/Larry Federoff - Joe Suhey was a name that emerged from the Blue White game and may be making a clear case for the starting job at full back. Suhey has already eclipsed the only senior at the position, Larry Federoff. This roster spot looks like Suhey's to lose.
Andrew Quarless/Mickey Shuler - Tight end will be a critical position for the Nittany Lions in 2009. Whoever ends up playing the position will have to bail out Clark from time to time with a new corp of wide receivers gelling together.
Andrew Quareless will likely be named the starter although he has yet to really reach the potential that Penn State fans have expected form him.
Mickey Shuler made some nice plays in the Blue White game and could make a case for being named the starter at some point. Quarless has a little more experience though and figures to get the edge in the position battle.
After this season the Nittany Lions will have an interesting position battle on their hands with up and coming tight ends Andrew Szcerba and Mark Wedderburn grooming to take over.
Graham Zug/Patrick Mauti - Zug has quickly become a fan favorite at the wide receiver position, and he has proven himself to be a solid set of hands that Clark can rely on. Zug can be sure to be one of the starters for the offense. The 6'2" receiver will provide Clark with a steady possession receiver.
Patrick Mauti will provide some senior leadership, along with James McDonald. The three senior wide receivers figure to fight for back up spots at best though.
Chaz Powell/A.J. Price - Chaz Powell is now fully working on offensive drills and has what it takes to move the ball through the air. Powell only made two catches last season for 37 yards but with more playing time coming his way he should drastically improve those stats.
Backing up Powell could be freshman A.J. Price, a key pick up in the Class of 2009. Price is tall and lanky and as a freshman figures to not see a ton of playing time under Paterno. He will likely see the bulk of his playing time in early season romps in the second half.
Watching him in the Blue White game it was obvious that he is skinny, and could be fragile when attempting to grab balls over the middle. Hopefully he can put on some weight without losing receiving abilities.
Derek Moye/Brett Brackett - Derek Moye saw very limited playing time in 2008, making three receptions for 71 yards and one touchdown. Moye does give the Nittany Lions a 6'5" target on the playing field. At that height Moye is the tallest of the receivers looking to haul in passes from Clark.
Brett Brackett is actually slightly taller at 6'6" and he should see some significant playing time. Brackett will likely be one of the first receivers off of the sidelines in any possible receiver rotations or for certain packages. Bracket actually hauled in 13 passes for 160 yards in 2008.
DeOn-tae Pannell/Nerraw McCormack - Such a critical position and one that has some question marks, along with most of the offensive line. Look for sophomore DeOn-tae Pannell to make a push for the starting job at left tackle. The 6'5" 313-pound tackle gives the team some extra weight to break through than McCormack would.
Matt Stankiewitch/J.B. Walton - The red-shirt freshman Matt Stankieiwitch had a good spring and is making a push for the starting job at left guard. Walton is now recovering from a leg injury suffered during practice.
If he comes back at 100 percent he can make a push for the starting job, but at this point, assuming he comes back, he may have to work his way back up the depth chart. They both have as equal height and weight as you can get, so whoever shows the better ability to block in camp will get the nod when the season starts.
Stefan Wisniewski/ Doug Klopacz- The 6'3" 300 pound center has developed in to a nice center and figures to anchor the offense this fall, replacing the reliable A.Q. Shipley. As for a backup to the center position, take your best guess.
Quin Barham and Doug Klopacz will compete for the back up position. Freshman Ty Howle could be the future at the center spot.
Lou Eliades/Quinn Barham - Like most of the offensive line, this could go a number of ways. Eliades is typically a tackle but with some work could become the needed presence at right guard the Nittany Lions will desperately need. Eliades is a red shirt junior and weighs in at 6'4" and 305 pounds.
Eliades battled Rich Ohrnberger last year for the left guard spot, which was won by Ohrnberger, which may give him a leg up on battling for the right guard position this season.
After Eliades the back up spot may be a battle between guys like Quinn Barham, Johnnie Troutman and James Terry.
Dennis Landolt/Eric Shrive - Freshman recruit Eric Shrive will be groomed to take over the right tackle position next season, but for now the job will be the responsibility of senior Dennis Landolt.
Landolt will likely be the only senior on the offensive line so he could become the voice that leads the offensive line in 2009 as they work to gel together and provide Clark with vital protection. Landolt, at 6'4" and 305 pounds, will also be a key figure to open up some running lanes on the outside for speedy backs like Royster and Beachum.
Tomorrow we will take a look at the defensive side of the ball. Sean Lee is back in the mix but there are questions when it comes to the secondary, an Achilles' heel of the Penn State defense in recent years, highlighted during the Rose Bowl against USC.