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Penn State Spring Battles - Offensive Line

Predicting the members of an offensive line five months before the start of the season is a borderline pointless endeavor. Players will be switched from tackle to guard, from offense to defense, and so on. But let's just try to muck our way through this one, mmkay?

2009 Review: Well, there were good days, and days against Ohio State and Iowa. The good days saw a lot of rushing yardage for Evan Royster and Stephfon Green, and Daryll Clark walked off the field with a relatively clean jersey. The other days involved a lot of Broderick Binns, Adrian Clayborn, and Cameron Heyward crumpling the line of scrimmage, destroying the PSU running game, and harassing Clark into bad decisions. You'll recall, the Iowa game spawned this representation of the offensive line:


Sadly, stop sign and banana peel have graduated, leaving Penn State to find two new offensive tackles.

Perhaps the best way to attack this mess is to start with the most experienced uglies. And again, keep in mind that this is the part of the starting lineup most susceptable to changes. So when Quinn Barham ends up playing free safety in ten days, don't come back here complaining. Also, it's generally safe to assume that Penn State will redshirt an incoming freshman lineman whenever possible.

The Likely

#61 Stefen Wisniewski - SR 6-3/297 - Almost certain to be the starting center. Hard to believe he's a senior already, isn't it? He started his PSU career as a guard but was moved to center prior to last season. He struggled a bit with his new responsibilities (not to mention his many low shotgun snaps), but let's face facts here -- he's our best offensive lineman right now.

#74 Johnnie Troutman - JR 6-4/309 -- Started last season in the Paterno Home For Wayward Canines, which led to Matt Stankiewitch starting the first few games of the year. Troutman was shaky at times, but generally improved as the season passed. Put it this way, the left guard position is his if he wants it.

#77 Lou Eliades - SR 6-4/310 - Penciled in as the starting right guard, but available to play tackle if things get a little squirrely out there. You'd think the coaching staff would prefer to avoid breaking up the returning interior line if possible.

#50 DeOn'tae Pannell - JR 6-5/300 - The probable starting left tackle, Pannell was actually "Banana Peel" during the Iowa game before he was replaced by a combination of JUCO transfers Nerraw McCormack and Ako Poti, who would eventually solidify the position for the latter half of the season. Pannell worked his way back onto the field as a guard toward the end of 2009, but he'll be shuffled back out to tackle and expected to perform much better than he did against Iowa's Broderick Binns in 2009.

#75 Eric Shrive - FR 6-6/298 - Former five-star recruit out of Scranton. Many expected Shrive to get some playing time as a true freshman, but a nagging knee injury made that a bit less practical from the coaching staff's perspective. Like Pannell, Shrive ran plenty of practice reps at guard last season. Played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl after his senior year in high school. Looks like the giant 19 year old that he is:


The Lurking

Some other names at tackle:

#58 Adam Gress - FR 6-6/275 - You'll notice that Penn State is awfully young at this position aside from Pannell. Gress is another redshirt freshman with plenty of potential.

#76 Nate Cadogan - FR 6-5/285 - Brother of former Nittany Lion tackle Gerald. Seems destined to compete at tackle for the next four years.

#78 Mike Farrell - SO 6-6/298

#63 Mark Arcidiacono - FR 6-4/274

#XX Khamrone Kolb - FR 6-6/300

#XX Tom Ricketts - FR 6-6/266

Other Guards:

#54 Matt Stankiewitch - SO 6-3/292 -- Wasn't quite physically or technically prepared for the starting lineup, but he still has a lot of football in front of him. He's similar to Pannell in that regard -- guys who were shoved around when they first received significant playing time, but will ultimately benefit from the experience.

#67 Quinn Barham - JR 6-3/290 -- At a point early last season, the Penn State coaching staff was so angry with its starting guards that they were both pulled from the lineup. Barham was one of the guys thrust into action, and he performed pretty well. He'll likely begin spring practices as a backup, but don't completely rule him out.

#66 Chiamaeze Okoli - JR 6-4/293 -- Recent convert from defense. May also practice at tackle.

#64 John Urschel - FR 6-3/278
#62 Frank Figueroa - FR 6-3/280
#XX Luke Graham - FR 6-5/274
#70 Anthony Tortorelli - JR 6-0/261

Other Centers:

#68 Doug Klopacz - SR 6-3/284 - Always discussed in spring drills, but yet to seriously threaten the starting lineup.

#60 Ty Howle - FR 6-0/289 - True center prospect due to his lack of height. No reliable information as to his progress at PSU.

#XX Miles Diffenbach - FR 6-4/277 - Extremely intriguing. There are whispers that the coaching staff feels Diffenbach may be ready to play a lot sooner than originally expected.