NITTANY NOTES: Leading the Pack

FOS goes to practice observers to reveal who is providing leadership for Penn State as the spring period enters the home stretch.

As Penn State football enters the home stretch of spring drills, leadership has been a major focus on the squad on both sides of the ball. See who is leading the pack from the perspective of practice observers.

Christian Hackenberg, Sophomore, QB: The staff has been impressed with Hackenberg's "take charge" approach this off-season, which is said to be increased from last season by mainstay observers. This is a trait the James Franklin crew strongly wants in its quarterbacks. "Hack has not disappointed. [Franklin] wants him to embrace his role and he has this off-season."

Bill Belton, Senior, RB: Described as a "driving force" for the offense and particularly the backfield, Belton's "performance last season gave him a confidence boost on the field and in the huddle." As one observer explained, "He's not typically an in-your-face type, but he's been more vocal (this spring)."

Miles Dieffenbach, Senior, OG: Despite recently being sidelined by a knee injury, Dieffenbach is still viewed as a "key go-to guy" on the offensive line from a leadership perspective and one "who will help coach and construct the line." A lot of injured guys like Sean Lee and Michael Mauti have played big roles from the sideline." Always known for his great sense of humor, Dieffenbach was doing a good job of balancing that and his new role as leader on the line before his injury.

Adam Breneman, Sophomore, TE: Another "young gun" who is "cut from the same cloth" as Hackenberg, Breneman is said to be "one of those selfless guys who will do whatever is asked to improve the team. He's also said to be a guy who "lifts up" his teammates and "has a great attitude — upbeat." He reportedly has been slowed by an unspecified injury.


Jordan Lucas, Junior, CB: Jordan has "been big working with the younger defensive backs." He's "taken charge," largely out of necessity but in the role has shown "majority and poise" from the junior. He's also been called a "big plus" due his attitude. Lucas is smart and has an outgoing personality, so being a leader comes naturally to him.

Mike Hull, Senior, LB: The senior 'backer has been one of "front men" for the defense and has "pushed himself to step into that role." Hull is typically "a lead-by-example player," who has been compared to Mauti in terms of leadership style. Hull set a tone a strong tone in the winter by working harder than ever in the weight room, and that approach has carried over into spring ball.

Ben Kline, Junior, LB: Praised for his maturity, Kline has shown to be a "natural leader" who "steps up whenever needed." Kline is said to have the respect of his teammates and "doesn't quit" in drills. Though he has been slowed by injuries in his career, he has never stopped grinding away. That, along with his do-anything approach to helping out in special teams, has allowed him to earn the respect of teammates and to quickly do the same with the new coaching staff.

Brandon Bell, Sophomore, LB: Bell's attitude is a "nice boost to the D." As he's gotten "more comfortable with his play, that has have given him credibility in the huddle." This, along with his outgoing personality and intelligence, has seen him emerge more on the leadership front this off-season.

Bonus Look

Anthony Zettel, Junior, DT: After moving insider from defensive end, Zettel has a "commanding confidence" which "matches his style of play," according to one observer. Described as "intense," Zettel "hasn't been shy about assuming a lead role on the defensive line," which is something is really has not had to do until this year.

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