What Penn State football player isn't getting many accolades in preseason, but should make some postseason lists?
Nick P--Jesse James
It's gotta be The Outlaw. I don't know exactly how Phil Steele failed to mention his name on this list, but it probably starts with his criminally low ranking of Kyle Carter. For someone who could very well be one of the top 4 or 5 tight ends in the country this season, putting him on only the 3rd team is a little suspect. With that being said, Kyle Carter might not even be the best tight end on the team. Jesse James is a defensive coordinator's nightmare. He's a giant with sure hands and good speed. No linebacker is capable of covering him, and he's significantly bigger than any corner or safety that he will come into contact with. Not to mention the fact that he is routinely given open space to work with, thanks to the threat of Zwinak pounding you up the middle, or A-Rob and company on the outside. While he may often be the last read for the QB, it's not due to him being a last option kind of player, but rather that the QB can feel confident that as long as the ball is put in his area, James will be able to go and get it. I think that by the end of this season, both Carter and James will be finalists for the John Mackey Award, and for one of them to not be on a preseason watch list that includes only the B1G, is just silly.
I'm bending the rules since Hull was listed as third-team All-Big Ten by Phil Steele, but I believe Hull can make an astronomical leap to All-American status by seasons end. The junior linebacker probably would have started anywhere else in 2012 outside of LBU. The former five-star recruit see significant action as a reserve, and when he was on the field made play after play after play. The team will depend on him much more in 2013 with some depth issues at linebacker, and Hull will be an absolute standout now that he has the opportunity. Based on the small sample size of Hull's ability, he seems to be ready to make the leap from reserve to All-American in his junior year.
It has to be Jesse James, right? What more could you want in a tight end -- he's big, strong, big, has good hands, big, can block, big, fast enough, big, big and big. Nick hit on most of the areas of why James can (and will) be a potential Mackey Award finalist, but he left one out: Bill O'Brien. Ask any Patriots fan and they'll tell you that a massive TE in the Rob Gronkowski mold like James would thrive in O'Brien's system. Wait...I am a Patriots fan, so let me tell you: the way O'Brien used Gronk in New England is exactly how he should use James next season. He's so massive that he can block anyone and can't be covered in the red zone at all. I'm a touch biased, but I fully believe James can lead the team (and, possible, the Big Ten) in touchdown catches next season just based on the team getting the ball down to the five or seven yard line and throwing a jump ball for him. Kyle Carter is an amazing tight end and will end the season on several All-Big Ten and maybe even a few All-American lists. I just think Jesse James will be on more of them. (Quick tangent: We're stupid loaded at tight end and that makes me happy)
If DaQuan Jones is not on a preseason list, then give me the big boy. I think he'll have a monster season inside, lead the team in TFL's, and be the highest drafted Penn Stater next April. But if Jones is already on a preseason list, and thereby disqualified, then give me two redshirt freshmen to garner votes as Big Ten Freshmen of the year: Akeel 'Big Maple' Lynch at RB, and Nyeem Wartman at LB. They both look like football players to me, and I suspect that we'll all be googly-eyed over both of them by Thanksgiving.
I think the consensus pick is going to end up being Jesse James and I really can't speak against that choice. He's 6'7" with great hands and gallops down the field like a prized thoroughbred. Yes, Kyle Carter won Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, but as many who follow this Penn State team will tell you, James might be the best tight end on the roster as of this moment. He's going to win any matchup against whatever linebacker or safety defenses decide to defend him with and has the ability to blow up those same defenders if ZZ or Big Maple break free downfield. Expect to see James be the safety blanket for whichever quarterback lines up behind center this fall and catch multiple balls for multiple touchdowns in multiple games this year, not unlike a former O'Brien TE in Gronk.
I wouldn't be me if I didn't pick a linebacker. It says something when true-freshman Wartman saw time (pre-injury) in the first two games last year in a position group that included two guys now playing in the pros. Wartman provided one of the lone bright spots of last year's season opener versus Ohio in his blocked punt, and had already solidified a starting position for 2013. Since he was able to secure a medical redshirt for last year, that means we'll potentially have four more years to watch him grow an develop, and with what the NEPA product has already shown, it will be a good four years. Side note: Letsgo has met him, and said he's a nice dude. So there's that, as well.
What do you guys think?
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