Penn State seniors begin NFL draft focus; Nittany Lions offensive line hoping to build on bowl win
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Draft in focus
How quickly the attention goes from a major bowl victory to the next chapter in a career.
For some of Penn State’s senior class, that means postseason all-star games and focus on the NFL draft.
Safety Marcus Allen, cornerback Christian Campbell and tight end Mike Gesicki will play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 27. But they are not the only ones focusing on the NFL draft, writes Mark Brennan of Fight On State.
That trio, plus linebacker Jason Cabinda, receiver DaeSean Hamilton, and defensive linemen Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran will participate in the East-West Shrine game on Jan. 28, while safety Troy Apke will participate in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 20.
Filling a hole
Hamilton, one of those seniors who will be on display for the NFL scouts, leaves a major void in the Penn State offense, writes Andrew Rubin of The Daily Collegian.
Hamilton is a tall, lengthy receiver that can go up and win 50-50 balls, the type of wideout Penn State fans have gotten use to the past few seasons. Next year, the Nittany Lions’ slot is going to have a different feel to it.
So who fills that role?
Rubin writes that Brandon Polk and KJ Hamler filled out the depth chart behind Hamilton and should get first crack at replacing one of Penn State’s all-time greats.
Building on the bowl
For all the chatter about who returns for Penn State’s offense next season, to be fair, the Nittany Lions will go as far as their offensive line takes them.
For the first time in a while there is legit depth and experience up front. The Nittany Lions have a foursome of linemen who have a combined 52 starts between them, and that group, writes John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times, is who the offense will lean on in 2018.
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Never too early
Athlon Sports released it’s way too early Top 25 for 2018 already, and Penn State checks in at No. 11.
Steven Lassan writes that despite the success the last two seasons, there are a lot of questions about this upcoming Nittany Lions team.
11. Penn State
After winning 14 games in his first two seasons at Penn State, coach James Franklin has guided the Nittany Lions to 22 victories and back-to-back trips to New Year’s Six Bowls. In order for Penn State to reach that level once again in 2018, Franklin’s team will have to fill a couple of voids, none bigger than at running back in replacing Saquon Barkley. Former five-star recruit Miles Sanders should be a standout performer at running back, but Barkley’s all-around big-play ability will be missed. With Barkley off to the NFL, the offense will lean a little more on quarterback Trace McSorley.
Lassan has Alabama and Clemson ranked No. 1 and 2, and Ohio State the highest rated Big Ten team at No. 3.
The case for Trace McSorley
Barkley garnered all of the national attention this season, and that’s why Barry Leonard Jr. of Victory Bell Rings thinks McSorley was overlooked as Penn State’s offensive MVP this season.
A strong case for McSorley can be made. After all, as Leonard Jr. writes, he threw for 290 yards a game, tops in the Big Ten.
McSorley will be back though, Barkley will not as everyone knows. That should mean the best from McSorley is yet to come.
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