Graduation and injuries are constantly shaking the college football landscape. Thanks to some quality recruiting in recent years, the depth at wide receiver for the Nittany Lions can withstand most of these changes well. While talented, most of these receivers are still young and inexperienced. For the 2011 season, senior leadership will be key to making these receivers ready for the big stage.
After a breakout sophomore campaign in 2009, Derek Moye found continued success in 2010, leading the Nittany Lion receiving corps with 53 catches, 885 yards, and 8 touchdowns. The start to the 2010 season was a quiet one for Moye. He found moderate success in the first three games against Youngstown State, Kent State, and even Alabama. Then things slowed dramatically for Moye, as he combined for only 7 catches for 54 total yards in the games against Temple and Iowa. It is also important to note that, through these first five games of the season, Moye was unable to find the end zone.
The next week against Illinois seemed to be the game that sparked his Junior campaign. Moye would top 100 yards receiving for the day and finally find the end zone in the losing effort. Including that Illinois game, Moye would score 8 touchdowns over the final 8 games of the season, including a big day against Florida in the Outback Bowl.
As a senior, Moye's leadership will be called upon heavily. There is some (reasonable) speculation that he may be named one of the captain's for the 2011 season, and it would be a rightfully-deserved title. He has been a solid receiver and a great safety valve for the Penn State quarterbacks. If he is not chosen as a team captain, he will undoubtedly be the leader a wide receiving corps that is still young and gaining experience. Aside from Justin Brown and Devon Smith, the depth of receivers is talented, but young and inexperienced. Losing senior leadership in Graham Zug and Brett Brackett (and Curtis Drake to injury) means that these younger receivers will be thrown into major roles if the offense is to be successful. And it will be up to Moye to lead his fellow receivers both on and off the field.
If Moye plans to be a leader by example, he is going to need to start showing up for the big games. Against the key three games in 2010 (Alabama, Iowa, Ohio State), Moye had only 11 catches and just one TD. Penn State will play those three teams again, while adding two more quality opponents in Nebraska and Wisconsin. If Penn State plans to win the Leaders division and inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, all on their way to a BCS Bowl/Championship Game, then Moye will need to come up big against these quality opponents. If Moye can continue the success he found in the second half of the 2010 season, Penn State should be in good shape with the receiving corps.
As Moye has recently stated, "I'm more of a pull someone aside and let them know what they're doing. I try to lead by example." Lead away, young sir.
Attached for your listening pleasure, here is some audio from Derek Moye on Spring Media Day. He discusses how the team is progressing through the spring practices, the potential for Justin Brown, and some feelings about heading into his senior season as a potential leader.