What’s Next For Penn State?

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Jarrett Bailey, Sports Writer

After another sub-par year in Happy Valley (7-6, Bowl Loss), this upcoming Spring will be full of questions and competition at various positions. For the first time in three years, Penn State will be going into Spring practice with a giant question mark at the quarterback position. With Christian Hackenberg forgoing his senior year and going to the New York Jets in the NFL Draft, the Nittany Lions have four quarterbacks with a total of 40 attempts among them. To make matters worse, all 40 of those attempts belong to one player; that player is redshirt sophomore Trace McSorley, who filled in for Hackenberg last season after he sustained an injury. The good news is that McSorley showed a lot of potential in his lone start against Georgia in the Tax Slayer Bowl, going 14-27 for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns. Penn State would go on to lose 24-17, but McSorley’s strong play kept them in it. At this point, I’d say that he would be the starter, considering he is the only quarterback on the roster who has had experience at the collegiate level. He showcased his strong right arm in the Nittany Lions Spring Game, going 23-27 for 281 yards and 4 touchdowns, leading the Blue Squad to a 37-0 rout of the White squad.  The rest of the depth at quarterback consists of redshirt sophomore Billy Fessler, redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens, and true freshman Jake Zembiec. On the plus side for Penn State, they have an explosive backfield led by Saquon Barkley. Barkley is only going to be a sophomore this season, and is seen by many as a possible Heisman candidate. He led the Nittany Lions in rushing last year with 1,076 yards and 7 touchdowns while averaging almost 6 yards per carry. Along with Barkley is Akeel Lynch, who added 282 yards and 2 touchdowns while averaging just over 5 yards per carry, respectively. At receiver, Chris Godwin is the unquestioned number 1 target on the team. With 69 receptions, 1,101 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2015-16, Godwin made his mark as one of the better receivers in the Nation. On the defensive side of the ball, their is a huge hole to fill with Carl Nassib now in the NFL. Nassib led the nation with 15.5 sacks, a school record, and also forced 6 fumbles. That said, Penn State had a good recruiting season, getting two top defensive ends in Shane Simmons and Daniel Joseph to help fill that hole that Nasib has left. They also brought in Michael Menet at Guard, as this offensive line was the Achilles heal of the team last season. Overall, Penn State has a group that can be dangerous in the Big Ten, and in the Nation as a whole. If the offensive line can improve tremendously to give Barkley and Lynch some gaps and give McSorley time to throw the ball, watch out for this group.

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