Trace McSorley, QB
McSorley spent last season as Christian Hackenberg’s backup and he heads into 2015 in the same role. Penn State coach James Franklin said he’s been pleased with McSorley, who has shown the ability to extend plays with his feet and make the throws at practice.
Hackenberg described the 6-foot, 195-pound McSorley as a quiet competitor who plays bigger than his size.
The redshirt freshman started four years at Briar Woods (Va.) High School, leading the team to three state titles and four state championship game appearances.
Paris Palmer, OT
Left tackle is the biggest question mark along an offensive line that remains a work in progress. Palmer could emerge as the replacement for Donovan Smith, who left for the NFL Draft.
Palmer still needs to bulk up. Franklin has said the 6-foot-7 junior college transfer is around 290 pounds, but he’ll need to get to the 300-pound range by the time the season begins in September.
Mark Allen, RB
Akeel Lynch is the team’s clear-cut top running back at this point, but the rest of the group is unproven.
Franklin said Allen, a redshirt freshman, has had a “really good spring.” Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton described one of Allen’s runs in a scrimmage, when he “made a whole bunch of guys miss,” as a top play this spring.
Nick Scott, another redshirt freshman, has also had his moments this spring, Franklin said.
Torrence Brown, DE
Garrett Sickels and Carl Nassib were a part of the defensive line rotation last season, playing in 13 and 12 games, respectively. They’ve both been effective this spring with two spots to fill at defensive end after losing C.J. Olaniyan to graduation and Deion Barnes to the NFL Draft.
But Franklin expressed excitement in Brown as well.
The 6-foot-3, 256-pound redshirt freshman played running back, tight end, linebacker and defensive end at Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Academy, and he’s shown flashes of potential this spring.
Joey Julius, K
Penn State may turn to Julius to take over for the graduated Sam Ficken this fall.
Franklin said the ball jumps off Julius’ foot and even sounds different than other kickers. He’s been accurate, too.
Franklin said the kicker who has earned the nickname “Big Toe” seems to thrive in pressure situations at practice.