Today we are yet another day closer to the start of Penn State’s 2014 season, its first under new head coach James Franklin. Next up in our series of player previews, we are going to take a look at a young linebacker who has an opportunity to play a big role this season.
Arguably the most experienced member of this year’s Penn State linebacker unit, other than Mike Hull, is Nyeem Wartman. The rising redshirt sophomore played in the first two games of the 2012 season as a true freshman before an injury forced him to miss the rest of that season. After getting a medical redshirt and playing in all 12 games last season, Wartman will be counted on to be one of the leaders of Bob Shoop’s defense this year.
Wartman was born in Philadelphia but played his high school ball at Valley View High School in Archbald, PA (near Scranton). Rivals gave Wartman three stars and listed him as the No. 13 player in Pennsylvania and the No. 35 outside linebacker in the country. In addition to Penn State, he had offers from Florida, Rutgers, Northwestern, Pittsburgh and others.
As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Wartman racked up 32 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble. His best performance of the year came in Penn State’s epic four-overtime win over Michigan, a game in which Wartman had eight total tackles, a season-high for him.
With Mike Hull moving to the starting middle linebacker position and Ben Kline most likely out for the whole 2014 season, Wartman will almost certainly be one of the starting outside linebackers for new linebackers coach Brent Pry.
With a full season under his belt, and completely healthy, Wartman’s presence should provide some stability to a relatively young version of Linebacker U.
Wartman is probably good for about 50-60 total tackles, five tackles for loss a few sacks and at least one interception this upcoming season.