Countdown To Blue-White: Spring Position Battles

March 28, 2016 - Finding Carter

What do we think? McSorley or Stevens? Gesicki or Bowers? Post all your thoughts, comments, and questions on a Onward State Community forum.

James Franklin’s Nittany Lions have their sights set on an softened 2016 season, and it all starts with 15 open practices heading adult to a team’s annual Blue-White Game on Saturday, Apr 16.

Like many offseasons, addressing positional needs takes core theatre during open ball, but for a initial time in 3 years, Penn State is acid for a new starting quarterback. On tip of a foe brewing during vigilance caller, a Nittany Lions have a handful of starting jobs adult for grabs during pivotal positions — especially defensive tackle and parsimonious end. We pennyless down any position conflict and a players opposed for those desired spots.


Projected Starter: Trace McSorley

In The Mix: Tommy Stevens and Jake Zembiec

Trace McSorley has a inside lane during earning a keys to Penn State’s offense after a standout two-touchdown opening in service of an harmed Christian Hackenberg in a TaxSlayer Bowl. However, Hackenberg’s two-year backup doesn’t have as most of a leg adult on a foe as many would assume given a new complement his OC and position manager Joe Moorhead is bustling installing this spring.

The transparent conflict to this idea is a fact that Moorhead’s lane record suggests he’s an ace during building a talent during his ordering — utterly dual-threat quarterbacks, of that McSorley positively fits a bill. Despite his 6-foot, 199-pound frame, a Ashburn, Va., local is a proven leader (he led Briar Woods High School to 4 loyal state championship games, winning three). After running a Falcons to a argent 55-5 record during his prep career, McSorley seemed to be headed to Vanderbilt, though James Franklin assured him to flip to Penn State.

Trace McSorley during Northwestern

Trace McSorley warms adult during Northwestern.

As a loyal freshman, McSorley kick out a some-more touted awaiting in Michael O’Connor for a backup pursuit notwithstanding nearing several months after a four-star passer, who enrolled early. Following a 2014 season, O’Connor transferred to a University of British Columbia and led a Thunderbirds to their fourth Vanier Cup — a National Championship of collegiate Canadian football — in propagandize history.

McSorley has spent a past dual seasons building a rapport with manager Josh Gattis’ gifted garland of Nittany Lion receivers — his high propagandize teammate and container burner Brandon Polk being one of them. McSorley has an corner over redshirt beginner Tommy Stevens and loyal beginner early enrollee Jake Zembiec in a knowledge department, though a routine of fixing Hackenberg’s inheritor might widen past a Blue-White Game and brief into preseason camp.

Tommy Stevens during Maryland

Tommy Stevens gets lax before to confronting Maryland.

Stevens, who played his high propagandize round during Decatur Central in Indianapolis, Ind., took a redshirt deteriorate this past tumble to get himself acclimated to Big Ten football. His time spent in a weight room with Dwight Galt paid large dividends in a brief duration of time, as Stevens put on about 40 pounds of flesh and grew an inch. Now, checking in during 6-foot-5, 219 pounds, Stevens is prepared to give McSorley all he can hoop on a gridiron and in a quarterbacks room. It wouldn’t be that large of a startle to see Stevens take a opening snap opposite Kent State on Sept. 3 in Beaver Stadium given his talent turn and football IQ.

Zembiec graduated early from a Aquinas Institute in Rochester, N.Y., after piloting a L’il Irish to a Class AA state pretension deteriorate that saw him acquire a prestigious New York Gatorade State Player of a Year nod. Zembiec is also a initial Nittany Lion vigilance tourist given Hackenberg to attend in a Elite 11 showcase during Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters. Getting a leg adult on a playbook in open round is useful to Zembiec’s development, as a 6-foot-3, 202-pound gunslinger will have 15 additional practices to learn underneath a origin of a remarkable quarterback whisperer Moorhead.

Jake Zembiec winter workouts

Jake Zembiec catches a breather during winter workouts.

While a leader expected won’t be announced until this summer, a subsequent few weeks will go a prolonged proceed in final a all-important pecking sequence of snaps. Fans and analysts comparison will have a penetrating eye bound on McSorley, Stevens, and Zembiec during a Blue-White Game.

Tight End

Projected Starter: Mike Gesicki

In The Mix: Nick Bowers, Jon Holland, and Danny Dalton

It would be an understatement to contend things have altered drastically given 2012, though one position in sold looks a lot opposite than it did during Bill O’Brien’s initial campaign: Tight end. Gone are a days of fantastic catches by Jesse James and Kyle Carter. James announced a year early after final deteriorate and was taken by a Pittsburgh Steelers with their fifth-round selection. Carter put adult plain contrast numbers final Thursday during Penn State’s Pro Day and has a possibility to join his former teammate in a NFL.

Adam Breneman announced his retirement this offseason after battling a critical whinging knee injury, though he a subsequent section of his life is off to a good start, as he was named a campaign manager for Pennsylvania Senate carefree Mike Regan in January. Penn State recently mislaid another parsimonious finish after comparison Brent Wilkerson was suspended indefinitely for his impasse in an faulty attack and nuisance box that was brought to light final week.

Mike Gesicki during winter workouts

Mike Gesicki takes on a hunker shelve during max-out testing.

New parsimonious ends manager Ricky Rahne, who was in assign of a quarterbacks a past dual seasons, is down to usually 4 grant Nittany Lions, though a unit’s multiple of distance and ability gives it a possibility to take a step brazen this fall. Junior Mike Gesicki has all we demeanour for in a parsimonious end, though notwithstanding saying a margin a satisfactory volume during his initial dual years on campus, a handful of dear drops loomed over a highlights. However, a 6-foot-6, 250-pounder is one heck of an athlete, showcased by his absurd contrast numbers this winter. The Manahawkin, N.J., local finished circuitously a tip of any explosiveness drill, posting a 36.5 straight burst (T-2nd), 10-foot-10-inch extended burst (1st), and 365-pound energy purify (T-2nd).

Gesicki separate reps with Wilkerson final fall, starting 8 of a 12 games he played in for a Nittany Lions. He even held his initial touchdown — a 33-yard gem in a pushing sleet opposite Army — on his birthday. Now it’s his pursuit for a taking, and knowledge in a trenches will go a prolonged proceed in solidifying his purpose in a offense.

Nick Bowers warms adult before Buffalo

Nick Bowers warms adult before a Buffalo game.

Penn State took a span of parsimonious ends in a 2015 recruiting class, that incited out to be a talent call on a partial of a coaching staff. Nick Bowers flipped his joining from Pitt to a Nittany Lions late in a process, and they couldn’t be happier to have a 6-foot-4, 265-pound redshirt beginner on their register come Sept. 10 during Heinz Field. Joining Bowers in a parsimonious ends room is classmate Jon Holland, who many analysts had pegged as a defensive finish entrance out of The Bullis School in Potomac, Md. At 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, Holland looks some-more like a pass catcher than a blocker during this indicate in his career, though make no mistake, he’ll have each event to build certainty along a line of struggle this offseason.

Jon Holland before a Buffalo game

Jon Holland catches a pass from Trace McSorley during pregame drills.

The Nittany Lions landed a big-time awaiting this past recruiting cycle in Marshfield, Mass., local Danny Dalton, who, like Zembiec, enrolled early this Jan after capturing Gatorade State Player of a Year honors of his own. Dalton was once committed to play for Boston College, though after visiting State College, a 6-foot-4, 241-pounder picked a Nittany Lions over important offers from Alabama and Nebraska. Dalton also played lacrosse in high school, so a athleticism is clearly there. What once looked like a redshirt season-to-be for Dalton in 2016 might not be a box anymore given Penn State’s minimal abyss during his position.

Defensive Tackle

Projected Starters: Parker Cothren and Antoine White

In The Mix: Curtis Cothran, Robert Windsor, Kam Carter, Kevin Givens, and Ryan Monk

When a dirt settles this offseason and a calendar flips to September, a biggest boots to fill on a whole register will roughly positively be during defensive tackle. It’s not mostly that a organisation has a oppulance of anchoring a invulnerability behind dual destiny NFL talents for 26-straight games, though that’s accurately what Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel supposing for a Nittany Lions over a past dual years.

Finding replacements for Johnson and Zettel in a center will expected take on a cabinet proceed this offseason and maybe via 2016. The tip contenders for a Lions’ share of reps this open are veterans Parker Cothren and Antoine White, a redshirt youth and redshirt sophomore, respectively. Cothren saw movement in all 13 games final season, recording 13 sum tackles and half a sack, while White followed immediately on his heels with 12 sum tackles and one pouch in 10 contests.

At 6-foot-4, 302 pounds, Cothren has a earthy collection required to step adult and play a some-more concerned purpose on a invulnerability this entrance deteriorate during a one-technique (4-3 nose tackle). The Huntsville, Ala., product has been with a module a longest, so defensive line manager Sean Spencer will gaunt on his bumbling tackle to move a youngsters underneath his wing. White, who hails from Millville, N.J., has packaged on copiousness of flesh during his initial dual years during Penn State, as he now checks in during 6-foot-2, 283 pounds — ideal for a three-technique (4-3 pass-rush tackle).

Kevin Givens during winter workouts

Kevin Givens runs a cavalcade during winter workouts.

Spencer done a preference to slip redshirt youth Curtis Cothran inside from his strange mark during defensive finish in hopes of solidifying a underclassman-heavy group. At 6-foot-5, 262 pounds, Cothran will need to supplement some weight this open and summer like Zettel did on transitioning from a corner dual seasons ago, though a intensity is there for Cothran to have a dermatitis year.

The Nittany Lions have a contingent of redshirt freshmen raring to go this open with personification time on a line, as Robert Windsor, Kam Carter, and Kevin Givens will give a vets all they can handle. Windsor saw his batch arise significantly after a standout comparison deteriorate for Wisconsin’s Fond Du Lac High School and even had a possibility to see a margin as a loyal beginner final tumble if called upon. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder could pull a comparison guys for snaps this spring. Carter, who played quarterback during times during his career during Gaithersburg (Md.) High School, is another man who drew high regard for his work ethic final deteriorate on a director team. Already adult to 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, Carter should cause in heavily to a competition.

Kam Carter during max-out testing

Kam Carter gives it all he’s got during max-out testing.

Givens incited heads during circuitously Altoona High School as one of a strongest prep players around. Although rather small during 6-foot-1, 267 pounds, Givens isn’t fearful to chuck around some critical iron in a weight-room. In fact, a former shot put standout posted a team’s tip one-rep max in a hunker a few weeks ago during a bar-bending 635 pounds. If Givens can continue to supplement flesh to his frame, hostile descent lines improved watch out.

Despite personification a comparatively neglected purpose for a Nittany Lions final tumble as a walk-on redshirt, Monk apparently done utterly a sense on James Franklin for his engine and loyalty to a team. In a pinch, Penn State could give a 6-foot-1, 279-pound Monk a demeanour to emanate some-more game-day abyss for a unit.


Spring use will go a prolonged proceed in final a arena of Penn State’s preseason camp, and inevitably, a 2016 campaign. We’ll have a possibility to check in on a Nittany Lions’ swell during a Blue-White Game on Apr 16.

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