King-Sized DB Challenge

But Justin King and the other new starters in the secondary are looking forward to the task of facing a series of outstanding quarterbacks this season. Get the latest news on the cornerback in our update.

Last season, Luke Getsy and Brady Quinn combined to throw for 7,374 yards. Suffice it to say, they're not the guys you want to go up against when you're breaking in an entirely new starting secondary.

But Penn State doesn't have the luxury of choosing its opponents at this point. So starting with Saturday's opener against Akron, and continuing with next week's matchup at Notre Dame, the Nittany Lions will start to find out whether they have what it takes to stop a good passing attack. Cornerback Justin King is as eager as anyone to see the results.

“I don't know if it's good that we're going to be tested that much the first time out, but [Akron is] a good team with a great quarterback and a great group of receivers,” he said. “Starting off with anybody would be a good thing for us, but they've got a real good quarterback and a lot of guys coming back, so it's a good test.”

Even though it lost its top three receivers from last season, Akron will likely come out throwing against Penn State. Getsy is considered the top quarterback in the Mid-American Conference. A Pitt transfer - he followed coach J.D. Brookhart from the Panthers to Akron - Getsy threw for 3,455 yards as a junior last fall, tossing 23 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in leading the Zips to their first MAC championship.

“He is really a good football player and can do all the things,” Joe Paterno said. “He can throw the short pass or throw down the field. He can scramble when he has to. He keeps you off balance.”

The Zips' top returning receiver is Jabari Arthur, a former quarterback who shined at the end of last season with eight catches for 180 yards in Arkon's 38-31 loss to Memphis in the Motor City Bowl.

“They make a lot of first downs on third down,” King said. “They're real efficient with their pass routes on third down, getting to the sticks and not getting into binds.”

King, a sophomore, said he wouldn't be surprised to see the Nittany Lions counter with a lot of nickel formations. He said Nolan McCready is the team's top nickel back, although McCready, a fifth-year senior, is also listed as a potential starter at hero along with sophomore Anthony Scirrotto.

King doesn't expect to be slowed by the lingering effects of off-season hernia surgery. “I'm doing really well,” he said. “It's a little sore sometimes, but I can play at my full ability.”

King said the Lions might get some help from a couple of freshmen. The first is cornerback A.J. Wallace. Wallace isn't listed on the three-deep depth chart, but King was impressed with his performance in preseason practice.

“He's young right now, but you can tell he has the tools it takes to play corner,” he said. “He's a big, fast guy. He's going to be really good. They've been working him in on offense, too, so I'm not sure what they're going to do.”

The other freshman who caught his eye is receiver Chris Bell.

“Chris might play a little bit,” King said. “He's made a lot of nice plays and is very confident in himself. He's a fun guy to play with. He brings a different dynamic to the receiving corps. He's a little bit bigger. He's just a fun guy.”

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