With Independence Day behind us and Labor Day still two months away, what better way to get your fix of patriotism than to predict which Penn State football players are most likely to garner All-American honors come the end of the season? While the first two members of our list have received all the fan fare associated with being a prospective All-American, the third has managed to fly under the radar. If the Nittany Lions are going to win games, you can expect at least 1 of these 3 to find their way onto an AP All-American team.
Our first inclusion is a given on anybody’s list of potential All-Americans at his position. To put it bluntly, Junior Wide Receiver Allen Robinson is an athletic freak. Standing at 6 foot 3 inches tall and over 200 pounds the Michigan native is a handful for opposing defensive backs. He corralled 11 passes for touchdowns in 2012 on his way to being named 1st team All-Big Ten as well as the Richter-Howard Big Ten receiver of the year. A weapon with the speed and athletic ability of Robinson should make the transition for either Tyler Ferguson or Christian Hackenberg an easy one. If Bill O’Brien’s dynamic offense gets rolling, look for number 8 in an end zone near you.
We look to the defensive side of the ball for the second member of are list. Philadelphia native and Redshirt Sophomore Deion Barnes was an absolute terror for opposing Quarterbacks last season. Though the 6’4 Defensive End only amassed 6 sacks, he was consistently in the opponent’s backfield causing havoc. For his hard work, Barnes was awarded the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year award, high praise for someone in the same conference as Ohio State Defensive End Noah Spence, a consensus top 5 overall recruit in the class of 2012. Barnes’ quick start to his PSU career has brought with it high expectations for the coming season. He will be key to a Defensive line that loses Defensive Tackle Jordan Hill, one of the most disruptive Interior Linemen in the conference last season. If John Butler’s defense is going to have success this season it’s going to start with the line, and it’s going to start with Deion Barnes.
The final member of this has somehow managed to fly under the radar, and at his size that’s not easy to do. At 6’3 and 300-plus pounds, John Urschel is a hard guy to miss. The soft-spoken offensive lineman was the lynch pin in a line that allowed Running Back Zach Zwinak to rush for over 1,000 yards last year and kept Quarterback Matt McGloin (Now an Oakland Raider) off his backside. Urschel posses unreal power that helps clear the way for ball carriers and quick feet which allow him to be an effective pass blocker as well. He is an invaluable member of an offense in transition and will be huge in aiding the progression of Ferguson or Hackenberg this season. Urschel is already an Academic All-American (And a published scholar), and if the Nittany Lions are going to succeed this season don’t be surprised if he ends up on the AP All-American list as well.
Follow VBR Staff Writer Clay Sauertieg on Twitter