Nittany Notes: Depth Charges

With 20 percent of spring practice already complete, the Penn State coaching staff has constructed a preliminary depth chart. As the team prepares for the first spring practice scrimmage on Wednesday, get a look at how the depth at each position currently looks.

Spring practice is an interesting time, filled with experimentation and position shifts. The coaches at Penn State often use the 15 spring practices to assess talent and test possible position shifts. Having said this, keep in mind that things are very fluid during this off-season period and very few elements of the team are considered permanent at this stage.

Below is a breakdown of how the depth chart has been assembled on both sides of the ball in the early spring practice drills. In situations where you see a split at the position (e.g. Cianciolo/Suhey) it generally means that the position reps are being split by those players. Check the notes section for any comments pertaining to these positions.


Quarterback: Anthony Morelli, Paul Cianciolo/Kevin Suhey
Fullback: BranDon Snow, Matt Hahn/Dan Lawlor
Running Back: Tony Hunt, Austin Scott/Rodney Kinlaw
Receiver: Derrick Williams, Terrell Golden/James McDonald
Receiver: Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood/Kevin Cousins
Tight End: Patrick Hall, Kevin Darling/Jordan Lyons
Left Tackle: Levi Brown, Mark Farris
Left Guard: Gerald Cadogan, Rich Orhnberger
Center: A.Q. Shipley, Patrick Weber
Right Guard: Robert Price, Greg Harrison
Right Tackle: Chris Auletta, John Shaw

Offensive Notes:

Quarterback: Cianciolo and Suhey have been splitting second-team reps, but Cianciolo is getting the bulk of those reps as practice progresses. "It looks like Paul is working his way into the backup position," one observer shared. "Right now he looks to be the backup, but Daryll [Clark] and the new guys (Brett Brackett and Pat Devlin) could change that this off-season." Daryll Clark is not particpating in spring drills due to an NCAA Clearinghouse issue.

Fullback: Hahn and Lawlor are splitting reps at second-team fullback. Hahn has a nice combination of blocking and receiving skills. Lawlor has a clear size advantage over Hahn (242 pounds vs. 222 pounds) and is more of a "traditional fullback," serving as a lead blocker and catching short swing or screen passes. However, Hahn has very solid blocking skills and "excellent hands" that "seem to make up for his size disadvantage." This is expected to be a battle through the preseason.

Running Back: Though Kinlaw and Scott are splitting reps, the consensus seems to be that Scott has the edge on the position. As one practice observer said, "It's tough to return to old form from an ACL injury like Rodney had. Austin's running with attitude. He got a taste of success in the bowl and he seems to be hungry for more."

Receiver: Not surprisingly, the consensus is that Norwood has the second-team spot locked up over Cousins, and will "start in mutliple-receiver sets." On the other side, observers expect a battle between Golden and McDonald. "Terrell has an experience advantage over Mac, but otherwise he's been giving him [Golden] a real run in drills."

Tight End: Though Darling is splitting second-team reps with Lyons, his blocking and passing have him "the true second-team guy right now." Lyons "isn't the type of blocker and pass-catcher that the staff wants him to be" right now.

Offensive Line: Some shifts are expected to take place in this unit throughout the spring. For instance, Cadogan is likely to see reps at both guard and tackle.


Defensive End: Jimmy Shaw, Mike Lucian/Chris Rogers
Defensive Tackle: Jay Alford, Chris Baker
Defensive Tackle: Elijah Robinson, Richard Cheek/Ed Johnson
Defensive End: Josh Gaines, Jed Hill/Francis Claude
Outside Linebacker: Sean Lee, Joe Cianciolo
Middle Linebacker: Tim Shaw, Jerome Hayes/Dontey Brown
Outside Linebacker: Dan Connor, Tyrell Sales
Cornerback: Justin King, Willie Harriott/Knowledge Timmons
Safety: Donnie Johnson, Spencer Ridenhour
Safety: Nolan McCready, Anthony Scirrotto
Conerback: Tony Davis, Devin Fentress

Defensive Notes:

Defensive End: Chris Rogers has "looked good" and is expected to challenge Mike Lucian for the backup spot, despite Lucian having about a 12-pound size advantage over him. The other side is "up in the air" with neither Hill nor Claude clearly emerging in early drills.

Defensive Tackle: Ed Johnson is seeing second- and third-team reps and "looks good. The staff wants him to work ... to get his techique to where it should be. Ed should be a big contender for the tackle spot opposite [Alford]," a practice observer explained.

Linebacker: Sean Lee is filling in currently for Paul Posluszny during spring practice, but rest assured Posluszny is the starter when he returns. As for the middle, Brown and Hayes have both been splitting second-team drill reps early on. "Hayes looks so good. Redshirting him has done a ton for his game, the depth he provides — wow," an observer shared. The consensus is that Hayes has the early edge over Brown at the backup spot.

Secondary: A long battle between Timmons and Harriott is widely anticipated around practice. "Both of them are so fast. Knowledge is a shade faster, but Willie has better control over his speed. They both have an aggressive style of play and practice all-out. This should be a great battle and great for the depth of the unit," an observer shared.

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