Johnnie on the Spot

Troutman weighs in on reclaiming his starting job and the conditioning issues that kept him out of the start of preseason camp.

Johnnie Troutman is again penciled in as the starting left guard Saturday, when Penn State hosts Temple.

Emphasis on the word “penciled.”

“The job is mine for now,” he told reporters during a conference call Wednesday morning. “I don't expect to rotate (with DeOn'tae Pannell), but you never know. I just want to go out and perform at my best, and keep him on the sidelines.”

Troutman made his first start of the season last week, in the 24-0 victory over Kent State. Pannell had started the first two games, but Troutman had split time with him, and had in fact seen most of the snaps the second half of the Sept. 11 loss at Alabama.

So nothing would seem to be etched in stone. And that has been the case since the spring, when Troutman, who started eight games last year, found himself in hot water with Joe Paterno because of his weight and the fact that he had cut some classes, according to the coach.

Troutman's problems continued into the preseason. While he said he passed his conditioning test the first day of camp, he was nonetheless held out of the first 10 practices -- his estimate -- because he reported at 317 pounds, while the coaches wanted him at 309.

So as the rest of the team drilled, he worked with the strength and conditioning coaches. And off the field he said he took the necessary steps to shave off the pounds -- “not eating at night, drinking a lot of water and not eating a lot of starches.”

In time he made it to 309, where he remains. And now he appears to have won his old job back.

“I think mentally, I'm a strong individual,” he said. “I met it as a challenge, and I just tried to rise to the challenge. I went out to practice every day and thought I was that guy, and tried to show them I'm that guy.”

Troutman, a junior-eligible from New Jersey, redshirted in 2007 and was a backup in '08. His string of eight starts last year ended when he strained a calf against Ohio State.

As was the case with Paterno and center Doug Klopacz, Troutman said the reshuffled line remains a work in progress. And his assessment of the slow start by senior tailback Evan Royster echoed that of everyone else, too.

“It will blow over,” Troutman said of the concerns about Royster. He then noted that Royster got out of the gate slowly last year as well, but went on to rush for 1,169 yards. And he said he and the other linemen will do what they can to get Royster going.

“I want all my backs to have 100 yards,” Troutman said.

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