Brennan: Penn State lost three of the top four pass-catchers in school history following the 2008 season, and in 2009 the relatively inexperienced replacements did an admirable job of making up for those departures. But the new receivers had the benefit of a veteran quarterback (Daryll Clark) and a workhorse tailback (Evan Royster) serving as the focal point of opposing defenses.
Royster is back this year but Clark is gone. And that means the wideouts are going to have to help break in a new quarterback. And THAT means Derek Moye, Graham Zug and company will have to be much more consistent than they were in 2009, when key drops hurt the team throughout the season.
They will be counted on to provide leadership on the offense, too.
Are they up to meeting those challenges? We should get a better feel for that this spring.
Harrington: With some young talent showing some promise, a big question is how Penn State will get underclassmen like Curtis Drake, Justin Brown and Shawney Kersey significant action. Also, where does Chaz Powell end up? Will he be with the receivers or does he shift over to the secondary, as some are speculating?
But with all that aside, the biggest question is who exactly will get the ball to the wideouts, no matter who makes up the unit. With Clark gone the Lions need someone to step up in a big way. Will it be Kevin Newsome, Matt McGloin, Paul Jones or someone else?
Harrington: With Zug and Moye stepping up as the veterans of the group, I expect a key battle to be between the backups to see who fights for meaningful time this spring. Brown is a big, athletic target and Drake has a niche role as a speedy, finesse receiver. Toss in guys like A.J. Price and Kersey and you have some potential talent that could be vying for meaningful reps.
Brennan: As you mention, Zug and Moye are givens (provided they stay healthy). But who is going to be that third wideout that has become so prevalent in the Spread HD offense? If Powell stays at receiver, he'll obviously be in the mix. But toward the end of last season, Drake became a go-to guy in that role, especially in the Cap One Bowl.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Brennan: Kersey has the size (6-1, 190) and speed to be a game-breaker. He drew raves from teammates for his performance on the foreign team last season. He ranks among the best pure athletes on the team and will make an impact next season.
Harrington: I'll go with another redshirt freshman who played well on the practice team last season -- Brandon Moseby-Felder. He has a lot of the same attributes as Kersey, but at 6-2, 170 must add a bit of muscle to his frame to survive the Big Ten grind.
IT'S NOW OR NEVER
Harrington: With such a young unit this isn't as clear-cut as many other positions. I'll go with Brett Brackett. The wideout has been moved to quarterback to see if he can dust off his high school skills to help provide some passing depth with the departure of Clark. However, if a combination of Newsome/McGloin/Jones/Bolden works out, that means Brackett will likely have another switch in his future, which would likely be to tight end instead of wideout.
Brennan: As best we can tell, Brackett will start the spring at QB. So I'm not sure how we can say it is now or never for him at wideout. If he does see reps at receiver, I'll agree with you. Otherwise, A.J. Price has to be the guy. Yes, I know he is only a redshirt sophomore. But he did not log a catch last season and was passed on the depth chart by Drake, Brown and Devon Smith. With Kersey, Moseby-Felder and Christian Kuntz all coming out of redshirts, Price must step up his game if he hopes to earn a spot on the two-deep.
Brennan: Penn State has done a great job of recruiting at this position the past few years. That will be evident -- again -- this spring. This crew has the opportunity to be one of the best in school history, but to get there it must help a new quarterback transition into the starting role and keep producing even if the staff is forced to juggle QBs.
Harrington: Yeah, the young talent Penn State has assembled is impressive, particularly when you look at where they were a few years ago, having to start a series of true freshmen in Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams. The question is how they effectively leverage all that talent in the best way possible.