NITTANY NOTES: Early Offensive Assessments

Take a closer look at how many positions are stacking up through the early sessions of Penn State's spring practice period.

With Penn State's spring practice underway, the Nittany Lions got into full pads for the first time this past weekend. Here's a early assessment of a variety of positions.

Offensive Line: Overall the unit is playing pretty well together with the two-deep looking like:

LT: Donovan Smith, Kevin Blanchard
LG: Miles Dieffenbach, Anthony Stanko
C: Ty Howle, Wendy Laurent
RG: John Urschel, Anthony Alosi
RT: Adam Gress, Eric Shrive

Angelo Mangiro has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, but is expected to make a run at the center position. Howle has looked "surprisingly consistent" at center and Laurent also "has shown promise." On the whole the first-team unit "looks solid." The biggest concern is developing depth.

Converted tight end Garry Gilliam was a second-team tackle early in drills but was slowed by an unspecified injury (that is believed to be minor).

Quarterback: At this point observer opinion has sophomore Steven Bench ahead of junior Tyler Ferguson in terms of grasping the playbook, "particularly wideout routes" and general comfort "in the scheme." Both Bench and Ferguson have shown good footwork and releases, with some "expected inconsistencies." Bill O'Brien has paid close attention to the quarterbacks up until this point. "He needs someone who wants to own the job, so he's on them a ton," according to one observer.

Running Back: The most impressive of the bunch early on is said to be Akeel Lynch. He's looked "very impressive on runs" and has been described as "aggressive" and "powerful," particularly taking on defenders. Zack Zwinak "adds a nice dimension of strength," and is expected to play another strong roll in the backfield given the attention the staff is giving him. Overall, the coaches seem to be "comfortable" with the lineup of Lynch and Zwinak, with Bill Belton in the mix as a change of pace guy. Belton "was rusty" in early drills, but has shown "nicer runs as things have progressed."

Wide Receiver: As expected, Allen Robinson is "far and away leading the pack." He's said to be "stronger," "faster" and "smarter" with his routes. Alex Kenney and Brandon Moseby-Felder have "been pretty consistent for the QBs." Eugene Lewis has also "shown promise" with his basics. "He has pretty good hands in drills," an observer said. At this stage, Robinson has "been fantastic" with some other receivers "playing decent."

Tight End: This is another area where the coaches are "feeling good" about talent and depth. Jesse James "has really continued to progress so well" with his hands, blocking and quickness. Senior Matt Lehman is another "reliable target who's smart with his play." Redshirt freshman Brent Wilkerson has also stood out in early skill sessions. He's working on his hands, but has been "sharp on routes."

Kyle Carter, who won All-Big Ten honors last season, is doing drills but being held out of contact while recovering from a wrist injury. True freshman Adam Breneman seems to be in good shape after missing his high school senior season with an ACL injury, but the staff taking a patient approach with him to avoid any setbacks.


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