Shawney Kersey rotates in with the first-team receivers during Penn State's victory over Indiana State. Sept. 3, 2011. (MIke Pettigano/BSD)
What can you say about the 2012 Penn State wide receiver corps? Seriously, I'm asking. With only two players in the very deep group of receivers who had more than five catches in 2011, it's tough to make any broad statements heading into 2012. Additionally, one of those two receivers who produced in 2011 is sidelined with an injured foot and possible legal troubles. The other, Justin Brown, is the only reliable piece of the puzzle - he'll be the No. 1 receiver come September 1, count on that.
There are twelve receivers listed below, and obviously they won't all contribute in 2012. There is also the possibility that one or more of these receivers could make the move to the dangerously thin secondary. But for right now, here's what you're looking at heading into spring scrimmage.
|More Blue-White Countdown 2012…|
|Special Teams (Mike) - 4.9.12|
|Defensive Backfield (Cari) - 4.10.12|
|Linebackers (Mike) - 4.11.12|
|Defensive Line (Jared) - 4.12.12|
|Offensive Line (Devon) - 4.13.12|
|Wide Receivers (Jeff) - 4.17.12|
|Tight Ends (Jeff) - 4.16.12|
|Running Backs (Mike) - 4.18.12|
|Quarterbacks (Kyle) - 4.19.12|
Wide Receiver - Flanker
Projected Starters: Justin Brown (SR), Shawney Kersey (RS JR)
One of these was an easy selection, the other is really anyone's race. Justin Brown's career has had its ups and downs, and he drew some criticism last year for a slight case of the drops. But no one has been more impressive this offseason among the wide receivers than Brown. He is routinely the first player up for drills, has been putting in extra work to perfect his craft, and is an on-field leader. Heading into the 2012 spring practice and beyond, Coach Bill O'Brien said he didn't watch any past offensive film and that all positions were up for grabs. And while that may have been true, there were still a couple of positions where we knew that the position wasn't really open - one of the flanker spots was Justin Brown's no matter what. He's just made it easier for Coach O'Brien with his impressive camp thus far.
On the other side, the spot really is up for grabs, but Shawney Kersey seems to have risen to the top for now. Other than Brown, no other prospective flanker receiver has really had a lot of production in his time at Penn State, despite three redshirt juniors in the mix. Kersey has had his ups and downs as well, but hasn't been able to put it all together on the field like many expected. For now, this spot belongs to Kersey, but each of the receivers below aren't far behind.
Incoming Freshmen: Jonathan Warner (FR), Eugene Lewis (FR), Trevor Williams (FR)
BMF and Kuntz, like Kersey, have been at Penn State for a few years now, but haven't been able to put together much on the field. BMF is getting some good looks in camp, but with Allen Robinson seeing action as a true freshman last year and Matt Zanellato getting some very good reviews, it's not going to be easy for the redshirt juniors.
As for the freshman, Eugene Lewis is the most likely to see some early action. He was a highly sought after recruit that has great hands (he is a star basketball player in high school, as well). Warner has the Penn State bloodlines, but a crowded depth chart above will almost certainly earn him a 2012 redshirt. As for Williams, while he was recruited as a wide receiver, don't be surprised if he eventually makes the swap to the secondary. He played safety in high school, in the same backfield as DaQuan Davis and Adrian Amos.
Wide Receiver - Slot
Projected Starter: Devon Smith (SR)
Well this has been an interesting turn of events, no? Devon Smith is your projected starter due to prior results and seniority, but this is by no means a done deal. Smith is on the sidelines for spring camp with a foot injury as well as potential legal issues. In his stead, Alex Kenney has been getting fantastic reviews from the slot role. Smith has shown that, when used properly and not tripping over the grass, he is a dangerous weapon. When he returns to 100% and if he can stay out of trouble and/or the Bill O'Brien Doghouse, he's the man to beat here. But Kenney isn't far behind.
Next In Line: Alex Kenney (RS SO)
Incoming Freshman: Malik Golden (FR)
As stated, Kenney has been one of the bright spots coming out of spring camp. Even if Devon Smith is your opening day starter in the slot, Kenney will see plenty of action in 2012. He is too good and too dangerous to not have the chance to punish opposing defenses. He may also see some action in the kick return game. Golden will provide some depth here, but is another potential wide receiver in the Class of 2012 who could transition into the defensive backfield.