With the announcement Saturday night that senior wideout Justin Brown was transferring to Oklahoma, the Penn State receiving corps became very young. Gone from 2011 are starters Derek Moye (NFL), Justin Brown (OU) and Devon Smith (Dismissed from team). With them goes 100 catches and seven touchdowns.
Left behind are a plethora of diverse, athletic players who are eager to get on the field. Sophomore Allen Robinson was listed as a starter coming out of the spring game, where he shined. As a true freshman in 2011, Robinson saw action in 11 games but had only three catches for 29 yards. Sophomore Alex Kenney is the likely starter in the slot. He played corner last season but moved back to his more natural position in the spring. Alex may also be the player who takes over some of Justin Brown’s punt returning duties. He may also be the fastest player on the team this season. The last starting wide receiver spot will probably be a fight between Shawney Kersey (5 catches 108 yards) and Brandon Moseby-Felder (4 catches 53 yards).
There is obviously a glaring issue. The top four returning receivers had a combined 12 receptions in 2011.
The good news is that all four of them have tremendous upsides and the depth at the position is very athletic.
Behind those four players, keep an eye on redshirt freshman Matt Zanellato , who will see plenty of snaps. Matt is a tall, possession-type wide receiver with terrific hands. He spent his freshman season adding weight and showed off his hands in the spring game this past April. He could become a redzone threat.
Aside from those players. the incoming freshman class included some dynamic wide receivers. With the scholarship limit going forward, redshirts will be scarce and snaps will be based solely on talent.
Four star WR Eugene Lewis will almost certainly earn some playing time, maybe sooner rather than later. He also possesses return skills, which could prove valuable with the losses of Brown and Devon Smith. More under the radar, guys like Malik Golden and Trevor Williams, both extremely versatile, could push Alex Kenney for playing time in the slot.
During his three years at Penn State, Brown never seemed to live up to his potential. His departure creates an opportunity for others to now prove themselves in areas where Brown did not.
For all of the latest on the Penn State Nittany Lions, follow VBR Lead Editor Tim Tolley on Twitter.