In each installment of this series, we focus on an issue facing program. We continue by looking at the six players who are flying under the radar a bit as the season approached but who we think figure to make a real impact in 2010.
Joe Suhey, FB: Described as a "quiet," "heads-down guy," it may be surprising that Suhey is considered under-the-radar considering he saw action in 13 games in 2009 as the starting fullback, rushing 22 times for 68 yards (3.1 YPC). However, with the likes of veterans Evan Royster, Stephfon Green, plus youngsters such as Curtis Dukes and Silas Redd being the focus of most of the discussion, Suhey is kind of a forgotten man.
Suhey's aggression and technique have made him a reliable blocker paving the way for Royster and Green. With some unanswered questions along the offensive line, Suhey will be called upon to help open up running room for the ground game and should be a weapon in short-yardage possession situations.
His is also a very reliable receiver, with 23 career catches to date.
Chris Colasanti, LB: With a unit that runs so incredibly deep in talent with names like Mike Mauti, Bani Gbadyu, Gerald Hodges and Stupar, less attention has been placed on the middle linebacker. With the departure of Josh Hull, the opportunity for Colasanti to step in and make the impact fans many have expected is here.
Colasanti saw action in nine games last season, making 18 tackles and one sack mostly in clean-up time and on special teams. At 6-foot-2, 243 pounds, Colasanti has the size to step in and plug up lanes. He's also had the time to pick up the middle linebacker position, which is more challenging than the outside spots given that the player is responsible for reading the offense and calling adjustments for the rest of the defense. With a better handle on the role it's now or never for Colasanti to make an impact.
Brett Brackett, WR/TE: Few individuals embody the concept of "team player" like Brackett. Playing a multitude of roles over his career like WR and a short stint a QB, Brackett is now in a hybrid wideout/tight end role. In the passing game, he is doing a lot of the same things Quarless did last fall. But he is working with the wide receivers in practice while the pure tight ends take blocking reps with the offensive line.
With the inexperience of the quarterbacks, Brackett could emerge into a comfortable target given his 6-6 frame out in the flat. Also, Brackett's leadership is often pointed to by observers as a major asset to the offense, given his vocal approach and management of the Lift For Life event.
And the coaching staff has said he has been key in helping the young quarterbacks develop, since— as a former QB — he can relate to them on a level most receivers can't.
Pete Massaro, DE: With Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore manning the starting spots and buzz around Sean Stanley, there's been little focus on Massaro, who has worked his way into seeing second-team reps this preseason.
Massro has a solid frame at 6-4, 255 pounds and observers feel he has a good motor. He's also shown a propensity to get off the line and is improving his ability to make the corner. Given that position coach Larry Johnson likes building a rotation, Massaro has likely done enough to break in and will see some situational reps early on this year. If he makes an impact we could see his role expand.
Lou Eliades, OT: With all eyes on right guard Stefen Wisniewski and the questions related to a left side of the offensive line made up of Quinn Barham (LT) and DeOn'Tae Pannell (LG), little attention has been put on the senior lineman.
Eliades certainly isn't an under-the-radar player in the sense of being unproven. In 2009 he started all 13 games at guard and has worked his way into being a quiet, reliable force on the offensive line. This season, with the departure of the team's top three tackles from 2009, Eliades shifts out to tackle from guard.
That is not always an easy transition. But Eliades, who actually filled in at tackle in the Rose Bowl loss to USC following the 2008 season, has been solid throughout the off-season.
Stephfon Green, RB: OK, sure, Green is known to everyone, but like Suhey, the buzz has been focused on Royster's run for PSU's all-time rushing record and the young talents Dukes and Redd. A lot of folks seem to be overlooking the fact that Green rolled up 501 all-purpose yards last season.
Green has grown from a finesse player to a physical runner and has shown to be an good complement to Royster. The junior figures to be the lead back in 2011, but even so has not been afraid to help Dukes and Redd develop.
The real challenge for Green is staying healthy of an entire season, to prove he can be THE guy in '11.
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