Matt McGloin understands the fortuitous situation awaiting Penn State’s next starting quarterback.
“The next guy is going to have a great start,” said McGloin, a fifth-year senior who started all 12 games in 2012. “He’s going to have some experienced young guys, which you don’t get too often. They are really going to help him come along pretty fast.”
Whether it’s Steven Bench, Christian Hackenberg or a quarterback-to-be-signed later, the 2013 starter will work with the Big Ten’s best returning group of wide receivers and tight ends.
The riches begin with Allen Robinson, the second player in school history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Robinson achieved the feat after catching just three passes as a true freshman in 2011.
The 6-foot-3, 201-pound sophomore was named the Big Ten’s wide receiver of the year last week. His ability to outjump defensive backs and bounce swing passes into big gains produced a slew of dazzling catches.
He also has a zest for football. Robinson, whose opportunities expanded when multiple receivers, including seniors Justin Brown and Devon Smith, left the program, attended nearly every spring and summer passing session organized by McGloin.
He’s not the only dedicated receiver returning. Junior Brandon Moseby-Felder’s return from a hamstring injury gave Penn State another deep threat. Sophomore Alex Kenney and true freshman Trevor Williams also received starts.
The quartet’s development convinced the staff to redshirt prized 2012 recruit Eugene Lewis, along with Malik Golden and Jonathan Warner.
“It has been a fun time for me knowing what we have now and the possibilities that we can have in the future,” wide receivers coach Stan Hixon said.
Tight ends coach John Strollo has expressed similar excitement about his position’s future. Tight ends Kyle Carter, Jesse James, Matt Lehman and Garry Gilliam combined to catch 92 passes for 1,090 yards in 2012. Carter, a redshirt freshman, led Big Ten tight ends with 36 catches for 453 yards despite missing the final two games with a wrist injury.
With Carter out, the 6-foot-7 James earned an expanded receiving role. James averaged a team-high 18.4 yards per reception and caught five touchdowns as a true freshman.
The quartet is poised to become a talented sextet. Freshman Brent Wilkerson redshirted this season and Cedar Cliff’s Adam Breneman is a key part of the 2013 recruiting class. Strollo called Wilkerson “one of the better freshman prospects that we have at any position.” Breneman, who missed his senior season because of an ACL tear, is regarded as one of the nation’s top high school tight ends.
Some fans are jokingly referring to Penn State as “Tight End U,” the offensive version of the program’s “Linebacker U” moniker.
“I don’t know who’s calling it ‘Tight End U,’” Strollo said. “If they are, then that’s great. That’s wonderful. Maybe I will make up a T-shirt or something.”
Players and coaches have nine months to concoct snappy nicknames. Until then, expect plenty of route running and 7-on-7 drills around the Lasch Complex.
“The sky is the limit,” Moseby-Felder said. “That’s all I can say about that. We have a lot of returning players.”
Follow Guy Cipriano on Twitter @cdtguy.