Once again, Penn State was a dominant threat on the defensive line in 2008, and it looks like they could be dominant again in 2009.
Despite losing big time contributors in Josh Gaines, Maurice Evans, and Aaron Maybin, the Nittany Lions seem to have enough talent to make up for those losses, especially when you have an All-American candidate in Sr. Jared Odrick. Odrick's aggressiveness and ability to get to the QB is the key to keeping this defensive line together.
Also on the line, fifth year Sr. Jerome Hayes returns to the team after a season ending injury early in the 2008 campaign, and another back in 2007. His career at Penn State has been plagued by injury after injury. If he can make big contributions early in the season, it will boost his confidence when the Lions enter the meat of their schedule.
If other contributors like So. Jack Crawford and Sr. Ollie Ogbu step up, the D-Line will be a force in the Big Ten.
WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END
Unfortunately, Penn State had to say goodbye to the best group of wide receivers ever to wear the blue and white. Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood, and Deon Butler came to PSU in 2005 and made an immediate impact, bringing the Nittany Lions back to national prominence.
With that said, it's a new era of wide receivers for the Nittany Lions. Sr. Graham Zug and Jr. Chaz Powell will have to be huge this season. Both of these players had a lot of playing time last season and will have to get used to being the main targets. Powell will bring the speed, and Zug has experience on his side—two things QB Darryl Clark needs in 2009.
Fortunately, Penn State does have solid veteran tight ends in Seniors Andrew Quarless and Mikey Shuler. Not only can they catch the ball, they can provide solid blocking for the player with the ball.
It's no question that it's going to take some time for the new receivers to gel, but in time they will begin to click. As long as Larry Johnson is coaching the defensive line, they will always be a solid group. Remember, defense wins championships.
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