Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment of the Collegian Football Staff’s 2019 position preview. Check out the quarterback preview here. To read our preview of the backfield click here. Then finally, our wide receiver preview can be found here. Next week our staff will preview the Penn State's defense.
On a team riddled with inexperience, Penn State’s offensive line is preparing to be a source of experience and leadership as a position group of question marks may be primed to become a strength in 2019.
Connor McGovern and Ryan Bates are gone, but the Nittany Lions still have plenty of experience along the offensive line returning which needs to be the anchor of a relatively young offense.
The veteran trio
All the attention on the Penn State offensive line this season will be on its trio of veterans: Steven Gonzalez, Michal Menet and Will Fries.
On media day, Franklin was quick to the name the three players leaders on the offense and, after the three starting a combined 61 games, it’s easy to see why.
Gonzalez, who had the opportunity to leave for the NFL last season, will be the anchor of the offensive line and one of the most important players on the whole of the Penn State roster.
This trio being successful is critical to the success of the Penn State offense this season and could be the group that finally pushes the offensive line unit to the next step after many seasons of struggles.
The battle at right guard
The one position with the most question marks on the offensive line is at right guard.
C.J. Thorpe and Mike Miranda are currently battling for the position.
So far throughout summer practice, Thorpe has received the majority of snaps with the first team.
Thorpe appeared in all 13 games last season, but switched to the defensive line after the Illinois game.
Thorpe is completing his transition back the offensive side of the ball well and is bringing a level of physicality and nastiness that this offensive line was missing in past seasons.
Miranda also appeared in all 13 games last season, mainly on special teams. The redshirt sophomore did appear as a starter against Maryland though.
It is very possible for the two guards to split reps during the season.
A young tackle
The youngest player on the offensive line will be Rasheed Walker, who should start at left tackle.
Walker appeared in four games last season as a true freshman and has all the physical abilities in order to be a key starter for the Nittany Lions, but it is paramount for him to take that next step in his second year.
Walker has had plenty of reps throughout the spring and so far in the summer in order to adapt to the role. Also practicing against one of the most talented defensive lines in the nation certainly won’t hurt his development.
The most notable newcomer for Penn State is junior and JUCO transfer, Anthony Whigan.
Whigan comes from Lackawanna Community College, where he was a team captain in 2018.
In addition to Whigan, Penn State has six freshman lineman, who will most likely be redshirted this upcoming season.
Penn State is finally in a situation where it has depth to play with along the offensive line and has come a long way from a team that couldn’t field two offensive line’s during the Blue-White Game just a few seasons ago.