Rewind to January 2, 2012.
A day after Penn State's defeat in the TicketCity Bowl and Derek Moye's final game as a Nittany Lion, there is already a good determination on how the 2012 receiving core will look. Returning starter Justin Brown will become the number-one target after the departure of Moye. After being thrown between multiple positions as an athlete (a la a young Derrick Williams), Curtis Drake will finally get his shot to break-out as the second option on the outside. And finally, Devon Smith would run really fast and drop passes from the slot.
What has happened since?
March 26: On the first day of spring practice, Bill O'Brien announces that Drake has been moved from wide receiver to cornerback. After solidifying a spot in the secondary after the Blue-White Game, Drake wastes the opportunity as it is announced at the start of June that he has been booted from the team.
June 20: Smith is dismissed from the team, presumably due to the marijuana charge.
August 4: Due to the sanctions levied on Penn State by the NCAA, Brown decides to take his free ticket out of State College and ends up in Norman where Landry Jones will throw to him this upcoming year for the Oklahoma Sooners.
What do we have left? A group of receivers where no one caught more than five balls last year. Inexperienced, yes, but still a group that has some raw talent. Let's take a look at them.
|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|
#81 Shawney Kersey (RS JR)
Kersey first made a splash in that rainy 2010 Blue-White Game when he was on the receiving end of both of Paul Jones's touchdown passes, but he split time between receiver and special teams that year. In 2011, he caught five passes for 108 yards, but none after the Big Ten opener against Indiana. He has decent size at 6-1 and weighing in at just under 200 pounds. He'll have to produce early with youngsters Eugene Lewis and Malik Golden coming into the program with hype and impressing early on.
#8 Allen Robinson (SO)
Author's note: He will be the break-out receiver of the 2012 season
Robinson, the high school teammate of Rob Bolden, played as a true freshman last year and hauled in three balls for 29 yards. He played in 12 games and got the start in the season finale against Wisconsin. He was the top performer among the receivers in this year's Blue-White Game, catching three passes for 87 yards. He is the tallest of the projected starters as 6-foot-3 which should give him great ability on jump balls and a strong presence across the middle of the field.
#15 Alex Kenney (RS SO)
Kenney, the home-grown talent from State College High, was listed as a cornerback most of last season, but is now the projected starter as the slot receiver after Devon Smith's dismissal. The position won't drop off in the speed department as Kenney won the silver medal in the 100 meters in high school with a time of 10:63. He continues to be a sprinter on the Penn State track and field team.
#17 Christian Kuntz (RS JR)
The tallest of the receivers at 6-foot-4, Kuntz had one reception last year which came in the Eastern Michigan game.
#80 Matt Zanellato (RS FR)
Zanellato used his redshirt in his first year on campus and is now listed behind Robinson on the depth chart. He caught two balls for 33 yards in the 2012 Blue-White Game.
#4 Evan Lewis (SR)
The high school quarterback turned cornerback turned wide receiver turned placekicker is now back at wide receiver during his fifth year at Penn State backing up Kenney in the slot position. He has no catches to his credit, but he does have one field goal and six PATs from last year as well as a 8-yard run on a fake kick.
#16 Eugene Lewis
#20 Malik Golden
Both of these highly-touted recruits have impressed during practices so far. The question is if either or both of them will redshirt due to the new scholarship limits. Both could compete for playing time this year, but if one were to redshirt, expect it to be Golden.
#13 Tyler Lucas (RS FR)
#85 Brandon Moseby-Felder (RS JR)
#6 Shane Phillips (RS FR)
#88 Johnathan Warner (FR)
#10 Trevor Williams (FR)
Word came out yesterday that Williams has been running with the first-team at points throughout practice so far and could compete for serious time this season. It certainly wouldn't hurt to have another young guy step up and be able to contribute to an offense that will need all the help it can get this year.
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