Underclassmen learn from Penn State seniors, special teams experience - The Daily Collegian: Football

Logout|My Dashboard

Underclassmen learn from Penn State seniors, special teams experience

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 1:00 am

With Penn State’s Senior Day on Saturday against Nebraska rapidly approaching, the focus of this game week is obvious.

Speaking extensively about the Nittany Lions’ senior class in his weekly press conference Tuesday, coach Bill O’Brien noted how the group has embraced the responsibilities as leaders.

One of those tasks includes bringing along the younger players.

“The biggest thing to me is that they understand the word ‘teamwork’ and working together,” O’Brien said emphatically of his seniors. “They embrace the younger players.”

The impact of these seniors on the underclassmen has been noticed by O’Brien, and perhaps consequentially, as last weekend’s game against Purdue showed, some of the underclassmen have made significant progress.

Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg has obviously seen quite a bit of action under center this year, and tight end Adam Breneman caught his first career touchdown against the Boilermakers.

But on both sides of the ball, there were several players reappearing or emerging for the first time as real contributors.

Offensively, Geno Lewis caught three passes for 19 yards and saw a few more targets go his way.

Lewis hauled in just two passes combined in the four games prior to Saturday’s decisive win over Purdue.

After the game Lewis attributed his progress as a route runner to leaders in the receiving corps, including senior pass catcher Brandon Felder.

On defense, freshman outside linebacker Brandon Bell saw significant time in the absence of Ben Kline (out for the season). Bell had three tackles.

Redshirt freshman Malik Golden, who played receiver last year, also saw some snaps in the secondary.

In the case of Bell and Golden, they’ve been on the field for almost every game this year, but not in that capacity.

Instead, the two have had to prove their worth on special teams, and O’Brien took notice of their efforts.

“I think as a young player, that’s where you really earn the right to play on offense and defense,” O’Brien said postgame. “That’s what we did. We moved them up.”

That’s what it’s all about for most underclassmen — paying your dues.

Many members of the current senior class had to do the same thing, earning playing time along with the respect of teammates and coaches doing the little things, namely on special teams.

And as this senior class departs, younger contributors will take on larger roles next year and for years to come.

In terms of these next two games, they’ll continue their progression, but players like Lewis, Bell and Golden have years of potential to look forward to.

And in O’Brien’s eyes, they have the proper grounding from the senior class rubbing off on them to the hard work put in on special teams in order to succeed.

More about

More about

Welcome to the discussion.

NFL Draft Coverage

DaQuan Jones' father reacts to son's drafting
Posted: May 12, 2014

DaQuan Jones' father endured many hardships while raising his son, but it all paid off Saturday as the Tennessee Titans drafted DaQuan.

Comments (0)
Glenn Carson, Garry Gilliam sign deals as undrafted free agents
Posted: May 10, 2014

Former Nittany Lions Garry Gilliam and Glenn Carson signed with NFL teams after going undrafted. 

Comments (0)
Former Nittany Lions find NFL homes
Posted: May 11, 2014

Forget about Silas Redd and Khairi Fortt? Two NFL teams didn't

Comments (0)
NFL Draft Recap
Posted: May 11, 2014

Three former Nittany Lions were drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. 

Comments (0)
Tennessee Titans draft DaQuan Jones in the fourth round
Posted: May 10, 2014

DaQuan Jones becomes the second Penn State player to get drafted as the Tennessee Titans selected him.

Comments (0)
Math meets football: Twitter adores John Urschel
Posted: May 10, 2014

Shortly after the Baltimore Ravens drafted John Urschel with the No. 175 pick in the fifth round, fans and teammates took to Twitter to discuss their thoughts.

Comments (0)
Fans, teammates react to Allen Robinson getting drafted
Posted: May 09, 2014

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected wide receiver Allen Robinson with the No. 61 overall pick in the second round. Robinson watched as 10 wide receivers were picked before the Jaguars ended his wait.

Comments (0)
Jacksonville Jaguars draft Allen Robinson in 2nd round of NFL Draft
Posted: May 09, 2014

The Jaguars ended wide receiver Allen Robinson's wait as they selected him with the No. 61 overall pick in the second round. 

Comments (0)
John Urschel's diary: Draft day arrives
Posted: May 09, 2014

John Urschel continues his journal series for the Associated Press with his newest post: Draft Day. 

Comments (0)
Matt McGloin's moxie running dry in Oakland?
Posted: May 09, 2014

With the Oakland Raiders selecting Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr with the No. 36 pick in the second round, the Matt McGloin era in Oakland might be coming to an end.

Comments (0)