UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State’s first-team defensive line might not be as settled as it appeared this summer. The depth chart Penn State unveiled Monday revealed that two defensive line jobs are undecided as Saturday’s opener against Ohio approaches.
Redshirt freshman Deion Barnes is competing with fifth-year senior Pete Massaro for one defensive end spot. Massaro, who missed last season because of an ACL injury, started the final 11 games of the 2010 season before suffering the injury in the spring of 2011.
The coaching staff has held Massaro out of some recent practices for precautionary reasons. Coach Bill O’Brien has lauded Barnes’ development throughout the preseason. Senior Sean Stanley returns as a starter at the other defensive end.
Another battle has emerged at defensive tackle, where junior DaQuan Jones and senior James Terry are competing to start alongside senior Jordan Hill. Jones, who entered the summer as the projected starter, and Terry both appeared in every game last season.
The defensive line spots are two of six starting positions undecided.
Junior Stephen Obeng-Agyapong and senior Jake Fagnano are listed as options at strong safety. Fagnano missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury.
The secondary, which is replacing four starters, includes Adrian Amos and Stephon Morris at cornerback, and Malcolm Willis at free safety. Amos also worked at safety in training camp, and O’Brien joked last week that the versatile sophomore will play everywhere besides the defensive line this fall.
Seniors Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges are entrenched as outside linebackers. Junior Glenn Carson will start at middle linebacker.
The offense also has three unsettled positions — right tackle and two receiver spots.
Senior Mike Farrell and junior Adam Gress are battling at right tackle. Gress entered the preseason as the projected starter, but the experienced Farrell has had a solid training camp.
State College High School graduate Alex Kenney is attempting to hold off senior Evan Lewis at slot receiver. The ultra-fast Kenney played defensive back last season and moved to receiver before the start of spring drills. Lewis, a fifth-year senior, wasn’t planning to play football this season, but he rejoined the team after graduating in May.
Junior Shawney Kersey, the team’s leading returning receiver after grabbing five passes for 108 yards last season, is competing with true freshman Trevor Williams at one of the other wide receivers spots. Sophomore Allen Robinson is the starter at the third wide receiver position.
The rest of the offensive starters: Matt McGloin, QB; Matt Stankiewitch, C; John Urschel, RG; Miles Dieffenbach, LG; Donovan Smith, LT; Bill Belton, RB; Michael Zordich, FB; Garry Gilliam, “Y” TE; and Kyle Carter, “F” TE.
Junior Alex Butterworth edged out freshman Matt Marcincin for the punting job and sophomore Sam Ficken will handle the kicking duties. Butterworth and Ficken replace junior Anthony Fera, who transferred to Texas. Fera was the Nittany Lions’ punter and kicker last season.
The depth chart doesn’t list kick or punt returners.
Most of Penn State’s second-team appears set, although sophomore Paul Jones and true freshman Steven Bench are battling to become McGloin’s backup. Jones has missed the past two seasons for academic reasons while Bench was a late addition to the 2011 recruiting class.
Williams, fellow wide receiver Eugene Lewis, tight end Jesse James, linebacker Nyeem Wartman and cornerback Da’Quan Davis are true freshmen listed as contenders for first- or second-team jobs.
Note: Dave Pasch and Brian Griese are announcing Saturday’s game for ESPN. Griese, a former NFL and Michigan quarterback, worked as an analyst on ESPNU broadcasts last season. Reporters Tom Rinaldi and Mark Schwarz are also on the television crew.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy