It is the middle of July and 42 days until Penn State's home opener against Coastal Carolina. Although the new season is upon us there are still some major questions in the Penn State football community.
Who will be the starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions this fall? Also a lot of key players have either graduated or moved on to the NFL. Who will take their positions?
In this analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions roster, I will go through each position to tell you who will be the starters and key contributors to this year's football team and also who will be the future stars for the Lions in the next few years.
Quarterback:The Quarterback position has been the biggest question of the spring and summer in the Penn State community. After the graduation of two-year starter Anthony Morelli the Nittany Lions are searching for their new starting quarterback.
The leading candidate for the starting job is Junior (redshirt) Daryll Clark. Clark is a dual-threat quarterback who has raised comparisons to former Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Michael Robinson.
Although Clark doesn't have the same speed as Robinson he is a very good runner. He showed off his running ability in last years Alamo Bowl win over Texas A&M when he ran for 50 yards and a touchdown. Clark also brings leadership and charisma to the Nittany Lion offense.
The other candidate for the starting quarterback position is Sophomore (redshirt) Pat Devlin. Devlin was a highly recruited high school player out of Downingtown East High School in Pennsylvania.
Devlin, the all-time leading passer in Pennsylvania High School history, originally committed to Miami, but de-committed for his chance to play for his hometown team. Devlin is very talented and is considered a better passer than Clark.
Although you wouldn't describe Devlin as a scrambling quarterback he is a very good athlete and more elusive in the pocket as he would appear. As far as the starting quarterback position goes Daryll Clark will start in the season opener since Joepa usually always goes with experience.
Clark will have his opportunity to be the Nittany Lions starting quarterback but if he struggles it won’t be long until Devlin gets his shot to lead the Lions.
Future Star: Penn State has only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster Clark, Devlin, and Paul Cianciolo a senior. Since high school phenom Terrelle Pryor chose Ohio State over Penn State the Lions have no young quarterback to develop.
Don't worry though Penn State fans. Devlin has three years of eligibility left which is plenty of time for the coaching staff to find a new quarterback.
Running Back:The Penn State offense is known for running the football and last years leading rusher Rodney Kinlaw has graduated which means a new starter this year. The starting running back will be Sophomore (redshirt) Evan Royster.
Royster, a high school All-American in lacrosse and Lindy’s preseason second team All-Big Ten running back, is a very good athlete. During his freshman season at Penn State he rushed for 513 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Although Royster will be the starter, the buzz this past spring has been around Freshman (redshirt) Stephfon Green. Green is a speedy and lightning quick running back from the Bronx, N.Y.
He wasn't highly recruited out of high school and was recruited by most schools as a cornerback, but like he showed during one of first plays of the Blue-White game where he ran for a 57-yard touchdown, he has incredible potential. Look for Royster to get the majority of the carries but Joepa can't keep Green off the field with his big play ability.
Future Star: A future star for Penn State at running back is obviously Stephfon Green but there is also a young running back from Ohio who could raise some eyebrows in the next few years.
Brandon Beachum is a true Freshman who was heavily recruited in high school. Although Beachum is projected to be a running back or linebacker, he is an amazing athlete who is the stud of the 2008 recruiting class.
Fullback:The starting fullback position will be occupied by Senior Dan Lawlor who replaced injured Matt Hahn as the starter last year after Hahn suffered a career ending injury.
Wide Receivers: Penn State returns with its entire talented receiving choir from last year except Chris Bell who was kicked off the team earlier this year. The Lions return with their top three receivers from last season and they will be the top wideouts for State for a fourth and final year.
The starters will be Deon Butler, who was last season's leader in receiving yardage with 633 yards, and is also an Athlon Sports preseason third team All-Big Ten selection. Also Jordan Norwood and team captain Derrick Williams will start.
Derrick Williams, the nation's top high school recruit a few years ago, is expected to move to the slot receiver position this year. Also expect a couple other receivers to contribute including James McDonald and Brett Brackett.
Future Star: A future star at the wide receiver position for Penn State is true freshman A.J. Price. Price is a 6-4, 175 pound wide out from Virginia.
He was originally a basketball prospect who has very good hands. He was a top-20 prospect in Virginia and chose Penn State over Michigan along with several other schools. In his Senior season in high school he averaged close to 26 yards per catch and caught 11 touchdowns.
Tight End:Due to the recent incidents with star tight end Andrew Quarless the starting tight end position goes to Junior (redshirt) Mickey Shuler. Shuler, the son of former Nittany Lion Mickey Shuler Sr., is inexperienced but had 7 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown last season.
Future Star: A future star for State is Freshman (redshirt) Andrew Szczerba. Szczerba is a 6-6, 251 pound tight end from Delaware.
He showed a glimpse of his ability in the Blue-White game where he had 5 catches for 65 yards. Also look for true Freshman Mark Weddurburn to have an impact on the tight end position for Penn State in the future.
Offensive Line:At the two offensive tackles positions the Nittany Lions return two starters. At Left Tackle is the Lindy’s preseason second team All-Big Ten selection Senior Gerald Cadogen. At the other tackle position is Junior Dennis Landolt.
At the offensive guard positions are returning starter and Lindy’s and Athlon Sports preseason first team All-Big Ten selection Senior Rich Orhnberger. At the other guard position is a promising Sophomore Stefen Wisniewski. At Center is one of the top Center’s in the entire nation, first team All-Big Ten selection Senior A.Q. Shipley.
Future Stars: Some future stars on the offensive line for Penn State are Freshman (redshirt) Josh Marks, Freshman Matt Stankiewitch, and Freshman (redshirt) J.B. Walton.
Also in the class of 2009 Penn State has received a commitment from the No. 2 ranked Offensive Tackle prospect in the nation (rankings by Scout.com) Eric Shrive of Scranton, Pennsylvania who should be a factor on the Lion offensive line in the future.
Defensive Line: On the Defensive line Penn State returns everyone with one of the best defensive line units in the Big Ten. At one defensive end position is Athlon Sports First Team All-American Junior Maurice Evans.
Evans is an incredible talent and former high school Army All-American who is projected to be a first round pick in next years NFL Draft. At the other end position is Senior team captain Josh Gaines.
At the defensive tackle positions there are a few players who will rotate in and out of the games. One starter is Jared Odrick who is a load in the middle along with another starter Sophomore Ollie Ogbu. Also Junior Phil Taylor and Sophomore Abe Koroma will rotate into the lineup.
Future Stars: Some younger players who will make an impact in the future on the defensive line are Freshman Jack Crawford and Freshman Brandon Ware who has a lot of potential being 6-4, 340 pounds.
Linebackers:“Linebacker U” took a horrible blow with the loss of Preseason All-American Sean Lee. Although the loss of Lee hurts Penn State is still “Linebacker U”.
Don’t worry Nittany Lion fans because Penn State has a bunch of solid linebackers behind Sean Lee. The starting middle linebacker is projected to be Junior walk-on Josh Hull.
Although Hull is the starter I believe that by the end of the season Sophomore Chris Colasanti will take over that position. At the two outside linebacker positions are Senior Tyrell Sales and Sophomore Bani Gbadyu. Also look for players like Freshman (redshirts) Andrew Dailey and Nate Stupar to switch in and out of the lineup at times.
Future Stars: Penn State looks like it will continue to be “Linebacker U” for years to come with the past two recruiting years. The Lions are loaded at the position with Sophomore Chris Colasanti and Freshman (redshirts) Andrew Dailey and Nate Stupar on the roster. Also look for true Freshman Michael Zordich, Mike Yancich, and Mike Mauti (projected as safety or linebacker) to keep the tradition going in the future.
Cornerbacks:With the loss of Justin King to the NFL the Lions are looking to fill the void left by him with a new shutdown corner. The two projected starters are Seniors Lydell Sargent and Tony Davis.
Davis spent last year as a starting safety and has now switched back to his original position of corner. Also look to see Junior A.J. Wallace to play in the nickel formation and keep on eye on him to emerge as an elite corner.
Future Stars: In the future, Penn State looks to keep generating NFL type cornerbacks. Some younger players that may emerge as decent players are Junior Knowledge Timmons and Freshman (redshirt) Chaz Powell.
Safeties: Penn State returns two experienced safeties for their Senior seasons in Mark Rubin and Anthony Scirotto. Scirotto led the Nittany Lions with 3 interceptions last season and led the Big Ten with 7 interceptions two seasons ago.
Future Stars: The Lions future looks bright at the safety positions with Freshman (redshirt) Nick Sukay and Freshman D’Anton Lynn looking to be elite players.
Special Teams:At kicker Penn State returns four-year starter Kevin Kelly. At punter the Lions return last seasons starter Jeremy Boone. A.J. Wallace and Derrick Williams look to be elite return specialists for the Nittany Lions in the fall.
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