Let's start with Larry Johnson. He essentially got all the major carries last year. There was really no one that took important carries away from him. He was slightly injured in the Michigan game and missed some carries last season. If he went down they brought Michael Robinson in, the backup quarterback. If Michael Robinson were a tailback instead of a quarterback he would be one of the best athletes in the league. But that is not what is going to happen this year.
At the start of the year you have to look at guys like Mike Gasparato, this is based on seniority. Also Tim Shaw, and Ricky Upton, a fifth year guy. (Upton) looked to be in great shape during spring ball. He is between a tailback and a fullback—he is either a big tailback or a light fullback.
Look for Gasparato to start the year. Look for Donnie Johnson, a redshirt freshman, he is a bit of a faster guy. Look for sophomore Tim Shaw.
A wildcard is a guy named Austin Scott. You will hear about him. He is the most prolific running back Penn State has ever recruited. He will be a true freshman. Last year as a high school senior he ran for 3,900 yards in a single season. When he was in 10th grade, he only started half the year and ran for 2,300 yards. In 11th grade he chipped a bone in his knee cap and missed the whole year. Then he ran for almost 300 yards a game and led his team to a state championship. They played three teams that were in the USA Today Top 10 and they beat all three. He is 6-1, 210 and he is very fast and very quick. It his vision, you have to see him to know what he can do.
I have seen every good high school running back who has come through the state of Pennsylvania the past 30 years and he is the best I have seen.
I think by the time we play you guys he will be the guy. Austin Scott is so phenomenal, he will be like having Eric Dickerson in the backfield. You will see a lot of him by the time we play Wisconsin.
So Austin Scott will be the starter by the middle of the season?
Coach Paterno will start an upperclassmen, but give Scott 20 carries a game.
How about the replacements for Bryant Johnson?
Tony Johnson comes back. He is a very good receiver. He is not quite as fast as Bryant but his technique is good and he catches everything. Opposite him you will probably see a merry-go-round. Kinta Palmer is a tall, skinny kid. He is very fast. He caught a 50 or 60-yard touchdown pass in the spring game. Teams will try to jam him. Gerald Smith was our third guy last year—he is a very good athlete, started his career at corner. Ernest Terrell is an interesting kid—he was a 60-meter track champion in the Big Ten indoors. He is fast in a straight line, though. He will round off turns and it is hard to be productive when you do that, but he will be in there.
Will Michael Robinson play all over the field again this season?
He will be involved in a lot of plays. They will play him as a wingback, a slot, a wide receiver. He will play as a quarterback at times to spell to Mills. He will run the option. Occasionally he will play running back.