The dreaded “OR” returned to its spot under the quarterback position on Penn State’s updated depth chart Monday, but it’s not next to starter Matt McGloin’s name.
McGloin will be the first player off the bus before the game against Ohio on Saturday, while redshirt sophomore Paul Jones and freshman Steven Bench will vie to be his backup. Senior Shane McGregor sits fourth down the list.
The depth chart has changed significantly since the last one released in June. Some of Penn State’s former starters have since transferred or left the team for other reasons.
Four of the five offensive line starters from the spring have held their positions — Donovan Smith will start at left tackle, Miles Dieffenbach at left guard, Matt Stankiewitch at center and John Urschel at right guard. Adam Gress has moved into a position battle with Mike Farrell at right tackle.
Former wideout Bill Belton will start at running back after Silas Redd’s transfer to USC. Senior Derek Day will follow him, and freshman Akeel Lynch could get some carries as well.
Garry Gilliam and Kyle Carter will split time at tight end in coach Bill O’Brien’s newly instituted Y and F roles. As the F tight end, Gilliam will be more of a pass-catching option. Carter is the Y tight end, which serves primarily as a blocker, but also runs short-yardage routes.
The wide receiver corps is almost unrecognizable from the spring. Justin Brown transferred to Oklahoma and Devon Smith left the team for personal reasons in June. Both were previously listed as starters. Sophomore Allen Robinson has starting job security, but the other two wideout positions are wide open. Redshirt junior Shawney Kersey will battle freshman Trevor Williams for one of them, while redshirt sophomore Alex Kenney and redshirt senior Evan Lewis will go after the other.
The secondary has also been renovated. The departures of Curtis Drake and Derrick Thomas, along with the transfer of Tim Buckley, have left Penn State’s defensive backs spread thin. Senior Stephon Morris and sophomore Adrian Amos will man the corners. Malcolm Willis has settled in at free safety, while Stephen Obeng-Agyapong will battle walk-on Jake Fagnano to play at strong safety.
The front seven will look more familiar with the returns of Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges at outside linebacker with Glenn Carson plugging the middle. The defensive line will feature the likes of Jordan Hill, Sean Stanley, Deion Barnes, DaQuan Jones and C.J. Olaniyan. Pete Massaro is fresh off a left ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear, which left him sidelined for all of 2011. He’s since fully recovered, but said on August 23 that he was suffering from some minor injuries. He declined to discuss those injuries in detail, but said he would play Saturday against Ohio.
On special teams, Alex Butterworth and Sam Ficken will combine to compensate for the loss of kicker Anthony Fera to Texas. Butterworth will do the punting and Ficken will do the kicking.
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