Penn State 2012 Position Previews: Defensive Tackles

More 2012 Position Previews…
Running Backs (Cari) - 8.13.12
Linebackers (Mike) - 8.14.12
Defensive Tackles (Jared) - 8.15.12
Special Teams (Tim) - 8.16.12
Offensive Line (bscaff) - 8.17.12
Tight Ends (Devon) - 8.20.12
Defensive Ends (Jared) - 8.21.12
Wide Receivers (Dan) - 8.22.12
Quarterbacks (Jeff) - 8.23.12
Defensive Backs (Cari) - 8.24.12

Projected Starters: Jordan Hill (SR) and DaQuan Jones (JR)

Hill had a very nice season in 2011, and should make his name better known throughout the Big Ten, and quite possibly on a national level. The Steelton, PA native had 59 tackles, 8 TFLs, 3.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble during his junior campaign. However, this year he will be receiving much more attention from opposing offensive lines with Devon Still now playing in the NFL. Hill has the opportunity to carry the torch of dominating defensive tackles, and don't be shocked if he is in the same class as Still and Jared Odrick by the end of the season. DaQuan Jones saw plenty of action in 2011, and expect him to start alongside Hill in 2012.

Next in Line: James Terry (RS SR), Cody Castor (SR.), Tyrone Smith (RS SO) Anthony Zettel (RS FR)

James Terry may not be listed as a starter, but he will see plenty of action in LJ Sr.'s rotation. He played in every game last season, and his role will only increase with the departure of Still. This will likely be a breakthrough season for Zettel. He turned heads last year on the scout team and now has an opportunity to see significant playing time. Zettel is a highly-recruited prospect out of Michigan who surprised many when he selected Penn State over Michigan and Michigan State.

The Freshmen: Derek Dowrey (FR), Austin Johnson (FR), Brian Gaia (FR)

There's no doubt that losing Pollard hurt. He had plenty of potential to shine in LJ Sr.'s system, and quickly became a fan-favorite when he re-committed in mid-November, while a nation descended upon State College with pitchforks. But on the bright side, there are three other incoming freshmen that are determined to carry on the tradition of dominating defensive tackles. Gaia was the most hotly recruited of the three, so don't be surprised if he finds immediate playing time. Don't be surprised if Johnson or Dowrey find themselves playing as true freshmen in spite of less-than-stellar rankings, a la Sean Stanely in 2009.


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