Penn State Players Drafted:
Dan Connor - ILB - Round 3 - Carolina
Justin King - CB - Round 4 - St. Louis
Top Penn State Recruits:
Michael Zordich - LB - 6’2” - 225 - Youngstown, OH
Brandon Beachum - RB - 6’1” - 220 - Youngstown, OH
Mark Wedderburn - TE - 6’5” - 235 - Springfield, PA
Mike Yancich - LB - 6’3” - 225 - Washington, PA
Michael Mauti - LB - 6’1” - 225 - Mandeville, LA
D’Anton Lynn - DB - 6’1” - 180 - Celina, TX
Key Players Returning for the Nittany Lions:
Deon Butler – WR – Sr.
Derrick Williams – WR – Sr.
A.Q Shipley – C – Sr.
Anthony Scirrotto – S – Sr.
Andrew Quarless – TE – Jr.
Jordan Norwood – WR – Sr.
Josh Gaines - DE - Sr.
Chris Colasanti - LB - Soph.
Maurice Evans - DE - Jr.
2008 Penn State Offensive Outlook
The Anthony Morelli Era has come to end, and Penn State fans may have seen a glimpse of the future during the Alamo Bowl last season when Daryll Clark was called upon to take some snaps. During the Nittany Lions victory over Texas A&M, Clark showed he can be an offensive weapon. Clark, a senior, will be pushed by sophomore Pat Devlin who is defined as a passing quarterback. Coach Paterno will need to determine what style of offense the Nittany Lions will run this season, or maybe the both quarterbacks will be used until one seizes the position.
Sophomore Evan Royster steps in as the starting RB this season and there is a lot of optimism following him. Royster’s numbers from last year with limited carries project to a full season of 1,500 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Stephfon Green brings speed to the backfield to supplement Royster. This duo will become well known in the Big Ten this year.
The Penn State receivers are loaded with talent. Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood have been hyped since they came to Happy Valley as freshmen. This season will determine where they rank all-time as a group. While the talent is there to catch the ball and make plays, the quarterback issue will play a factor in how often these three are put in situations to make plays. Statistically, Williams led the team in receptions last year with 55. Butler led the team in receiving yards with 633. Norwood was the leader in TD receptions with five.
The offensive line has all five starters returning from a unit that ranks as one of the best in the Big Ten this year. The left side of the line should be particularly strong with seniors Gerald Cadogan at LT, Rich Ohrnberger at LG and A.Q. Shipley at C. The right side of the line features sophomore Stefen Wisniewski at RG and junior Dennis Landlot at RT. This group can do it all. They will blow open holes for the ground attack and provide time for the receivers to get open down field.
The Penn State defensive line is capable of dominating and controlling the tempo of a game. Yes, they are that good. Junior DE Maurice Evans tallied 12.5 sacks last year, and with more experience along the entire line, that number could be matched again this season. Senior Josh Gaines solidifies the other side of the line at DE. The inside will be filled with a few players who will help the line stay fresh. Junior Jared Odrick will start at DT. Sophomores Ollie Ogbu and Abe Koroma provide big bodies to fill the inside, and junior Phillip Taylor will be in the mix as well.
A disappointing loss came during spring when senior Sean Lee suffered a knee injury. Lee was a machine at OLB, and Dan Connor who led the team with 145 tackle last season has graduated and moved on to the NFL. Now the position that is almost never in question at Penn State is…in question. Senior Tyrell Sales started at OLB last season and now is the lone returning starter. Inexperienced sophomores Bani Gbadyu and Chris Colasanti are in line to fill the roles at OLB and MLB, respectively. Although neither have much experience, weak linebackers do not end up at Penn State.
Justin King has moved on to the NFL which appears to be a big loss for the Nittany Lions, but junior A.J. Wallace is primed to step in become a lock-down corner. The leadership in the secondary will be beneficial for the defense considering three seniors join Wallace. Lydell Sargeant will start at the opposite CB position, and Mark Rubin will start at FS. SS Anthony Scirrotto has nine interceptions the past two seasons.
Senior Kevin Kelly has been a decent kicker the past couple of years, but Paterno is looking for a more consistency this season. Penn State needs Kelly to be reliable this year to win the close games that did not go their way in 2007.
Junior Jeremy Boone had a very solid first year as the punter last season. He averaged 43 yards per punt and placed 42% of his kicks inside the 20-yard-line.
Derrick Williams and A.J. Wallace will handle the returns. Williams and Wallace provide the special teams with big-play possibilities. Williams returns a punt for a TD last season, and Wallace scored on a kickoff.
2008 Penn State Football Prediction
When you break down the results from last year, the Nittany Lions were really a good team. Three of their four losses were within a touchdown, and the one game that wasn’t came against Ohio State. Offensively, the stability in the line should keep the ball rolling. If a quarterback can get settled in with the offense, scoring should not be an issue this year. The defensive line will dictate whether the Nittany Lions can shut teams down. They have the top ranked defensive line, and the secondary is not a concern at all. Expect the Nittany Lions to make a run at 10 wins in Joe Paterno’s 43rd year as Penn State’s coach.