Four days left until football is back at Penn State, and it’s day two of our look at some key areas to pay attention to come Saturday. Yesterday, it was my favorite young receiver on the squad, redshirt freshman Eugene Lewis, who has a shot to fill a key role behind Allen Robinson. Today, it’s the 4 scholarship and 2 run-on freshman already on campus, and expected to take part in the action.
Most eyes will likely be on the all everything tight end, Adam Breneman. He is of course continuing his recovery from ACL surgery last summer, and during open practices this spring, he has been wearing a non contact jersey. However, should Adam play, it will be interesting to see how quickly he has picked up a tight end position that O’Brien says is the 2nd toughest spot in his offense, behind only the quarterback.
Sticking on offense, Richy Anderson has been turning heads throughout spring after settling in at receiver. In fact, his progression was so impressive, the staff had no qualms about moving Trevor Williams over to the defensive secondary. The latest legacy recruit flew a bit under the radar when he committed to O’Brien, but he is well suited to the slot position, and his speed could prove to be a key mismatch this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, two defensive backs that share a surname might be more critical to the Lions’ success this fall than either of the bigger names on offense. Jordan and Anthony Smith (no relation) will be stepping into a secondary with some returning talent, but not much depth. The opportunity for playing time only increased with likely starter Stephen Obeng-Agayapong rehabbing from a torn labrum this spring.
Back on offense, two run on quarterbacks, D.J. Crook and Austin Whipple were brought in to help push Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson. While much of the focus will be on those two, Crook and Whipple present an interesting question for the staff. As I’ve said several times, my hope and expectation is Christian Hackenberg will redshirt this year. If either of these two wildcards show they are capable of running the offense to some degree, that decision may be made easier for O’Brien. Besides, PSU just graduated a former (then) walk-on quarterback that did alright.
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