Penn State

Spring practice in review: Offense




Projected starter: Matt McGloin/Paul Jones/Rob Bolden

Riser: Jones

Overview: Expect this competition to drag into August. Bill O'Brien wanted to trim the field of contenders from three to two by the end of the spring but no starting candidate had a strong Blue-White Game. McGloin and Bolden offer experience. Jones offers a powerful arm and exuberance. This will easily be the most fascinating position battle in the preseason.

Running back

Projected starter: Silas Redd

Riser: Bill Belton

Overview: Knee tendinitis forced Redd to miss part of spring drills and he only played in one series last weekend for precautionary reasons. Redd should be 100 percent by preseason camp. Belton moved from wide receiver to running back before the start of spring drills. He has developed into Redd’s top backup. When Penn State uses a fullback, senior Michael Zordich is the top option. Zach Zwinak, who was recruited as a fullback, had a solid spring.

Wide receiver

Projected starters: Justin Brown and Devon Smith

Riser: Allen Robinson

Overview: Brown is Penn State's leading returning receiver and he should have a prominent role in the offense. The speedy Smith missed most of the spring with a foot sprain. Robinson, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, caught three passes for a team-high 87 yards in the spring game. State College High School graduate Alex Kenney (knee) and Brandon Moseby-Felder (hamstring) missed the spring game. Shawney Kersey and Christian Kuntz are also vying for playing time.

Tight end

Projected starter: Garry Gilliam/Jesse James

Riser: James

Overview: What we know: Tight ends are prominent parts of O'Brien's offense. What we don't know: Whether O'Brien sees any big-time receiving threats in the group. Gilliam returned from a serious knee injury this spring. James graduated high school early to enroll in January. Dakota Royer moved from linebacker to tight end before the start of spring drills. Kevin Haplea, Kyle Carter and Brian Irvin are also competing for playing time. O’Brien might need the entire preseason to sift through this position.

Offensive line

Projected starters: Matt Stankiewitch, Miles Dieffenbach, John Urschel, Adam Gress, Donovan Smith

Riser: Smith

Overview: This group has jelled quicker than expected. Stankiewitch, the only returning starter, will play center. Gress, one of the Nittany Lions' most improved players, appears entrenched at left tackle, and Smith, a big-time prospect, might be primed to surpass veteran Mike Farrell at right tackle. Dieffenbach and Urschel are playing guard. The unit is thin behind the top six.