Aug 31, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Matt Zanellato (80) runs with the ball past Syracuse Orange linebacker Cameron Lynch (38) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State Football Player Preview: Wide Receiver Matt Zanellato

Today’s VBR series of Penn State player previews takes a look at wide receiver Matt Zanellato. With both starters from last season, Allen Robinson and Brandon Felder gone, Zanellato is one of the few returning receivers with game experience and will have a chance to make a big contribution in 2014.

Coming out of high school in Virginia, Zanellato was rated as a 4-star recruit by Scout and was considered one of the best 50 wide receivers available.

In 2012, Zanellato saw the field for the first time after being given a redshirt during his first year at Happy Valley. He wasn’t very heavily involved in the offense and made just two receptions for only 19 yards.

Last season, Zanellato was again buried on the depth chart and was scarcely used in the passing attack. He made a total of 4 receptions for 53 yards. He showed promise in the season opener at Syracuse, grabbing two passes for 21 yards, but then took a backseat to the receivers in front of him for the rest of the year.

While Zanellato numbers the past two seasons are not impressive, there’s reason to believe he’ll play a big role in 2014. He was impressive in the spring and caught two passes for 68 yards and a touchdown during the Blue-White Game. Last season, he averaged 13.3 yards per reception, which tied for second on the team. He showed an ability to get downfield and has the potential to make big plays in the passing game.

Zanellato stands at six-foot-three and presents a big target for his quarterback. That size will be valuable in the red zone.

Entering the 2014 season, there is little set with the wide receiver depth chart. Geno Lewis seems to be the favorite to take over the No.1 spot, but behind him, its anyone’s race. Zanellato will battle with Richy Anderson, De’Andre Thompkins, DaeSean Hamilton and Jonathan Warner for playing time.

It’s hard to predict exactly how things will shake out with the wide receiver this season, but Zanellato could easily find himself in line for a major workload. His size is an advantage and he’s already proven that he can make plays down the field. I’m predicting at least 350 yards and four touchdowns for Zanellato in 2014.


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