Shawney Kersey, WR, (6-foot-1, 205 pounds)
Thought to be a player with a "major upside" last season as a redshirt freshman, Kersey has impressive size and great speed. Over the last two years he has added about 18 pounds or so to his frame, which has "helped him control the coverage better."
Last season Kersey saw action in 10 games, grabbing one pass for two yards and getting two carries for 20 yards. He also saw limited return duty, fielding on punt for two yards and two kickoffs for 37 yards.
He took a short leave of absence from the team while he considering transferring but ultimately decided he wanted to stay at PSU and was welcome back with open arms (but limited playing time).
The major issue he has been focused on is improving is his "polish and precision" as a receiver. Observers have pointed to his upside and feel like he's "starting to come into it, but has work to do."
The benchmark he's been measured against has been Justin Brown, who has a year of experience (Broan did not redshirt as a true freshman in 2009) and two inches on him, so it may be a bit unfair. However, be that as it may, Brown has run tighter routes and shown better instincts early on in his career.
But Kersey is improving. He's bigger, stronger and had better receiving skills. "In high school, he could break out, have 20 yards of space, stop, catch a ball, and blow by everyone. Now he has defensive backs who can keep up so he's learning to play smarter — stay on the route, look the ball in and create separation," one observer said.
Speed: Widely considered to be among the fastest players on the squad, Kersey posted a low 4.3-second hand-timed (sub 4.5 electronic-timed) in the 40-yard dash during the team's underclassman Pro Day event. As one observer said, "He's got great straight-line speed, and he's learning to really use that as a weapon on routes." As another explained, "What's amazing is that he didn't get off clean (on the Pro Day 40-yard dash) — he stumbled a bit and still had a great run."
Routes: Kersey still "needs to maintain his discipline" here, but has learned to focus much more on the details of his routes. "When you're off two or three yards on a pattern, that's big and can easily result in an incomplete pass or interception." Kersey has been "tightening that up," and also has been "sharper on cuts and posts."
Strength: Kersey is stronger, having added muscle to his frame, and has benefited from his improved conditioning. He has good stamina, and the additional size and strength is expected to help him to better manage his coverage and create separation.
Hands: Said to have "soft hands," he has strong receiving skills "when he ties in the basics like looking the ball in." Most feel that he has the hands to be consistent catches and that he just needs to focus on "pulling everything together to grab those passes."
Impact: Several observers feel Kersey has been making significant progress "polishing his game." He's expected to provide depth to the wideouts this season with a Penn State receiver unit that has Derek Moye, Justin Brown and Devon Smith back with significant experience. But the Lions will be without the injured Curtis Drake. While Kersey does not play that same position (slot), Drake's loss, couple with the graduation of Brett Brackett and Graham Zug, means it is imperative for Kersey to step up and become a consistent pass-catching and perhaps even game-breaking threat for the Nittany Lions.