It's been more than eight months since Penn State capped off the 2012 season with a dramatic overtime win against Wisconsin. Players like Michael Mauti, Stephon Morris, Jordan Hill and Michael Zordich sealed their status as Penn State legends and are now focusing on earning playing time on Sundays. The younger guys have spent the past eight months lifting weights, watching hours upon hours of film and focusing on how to help the team reach new heights this fall. Here are five players we can't wait to watch in 2013:
Mike Hull- Hull saw some time as a reserve in 2012, and all he did was make plays every time he set foot on the field. The junior linebacker has a vast skill set that allows him to produce, and produce often. He can rush the quarterback, make plays from sideline to sideline and disrupt the passing game any time he drops into coverage. Hull isn't getting much national press since he wasn't a full-time starter in 2012, but has the ability to become yet another Penn State All-American linebacker by season's end.
Allen Robinson- Robinson doesn't have much to prove after an outstanding 2012 campaign. However, he has the chance to do something special in 2013- be the top receiver in the nation. This seems like a lofty goal when you think of the likes of USC's Marqise Lee and Clemson's Sammy Watkins returning this fall, but the junior wide receiver has spent the offseason working on his quickness, body control and footwork that can move him into an even more elite branch of playmakers. Robinson will need to eliminate the sporadic dropped passes that plagued him a few times in 2012. An inexperienced quarterback will also need to deliver him the ball. However, Robinson has already proved difficult to be stopped when teams know the ball is coming his way. Now imagine the havoc a stronger, faster and more skilled Robinson can wreak on defenses this fall.
Anthony Zettel- Zettel received even less playing time as Hull, but was a constant force whenever the coaches put him in the game. The redshirt sophomore defensive end is listed as second-string, but don't be shocked if he ends up starting by the time Penn State enters Big Ten play. Zettel has the potential to be a major disruptive force, and could be a downright scary complement to Deoin Barnes, who we already know will demand plenty of attention if opponents want to keep their quarterbacks upright.
Zach Zwinak- Zwinak is returning from a 1,000-yard season, but it's easy to see he is still very far from reaching his ceiling. First off, he will be the starter from day one this season, giving him a full 12 games to show what he can do. Secondly, He will have others to take pressure off of him in the running attack, meaning that he can stay fresh throughout the game and not have defenses key on him. Call it addition by subtraction, but taking a few series off each game will do wonders for Zwinak's overall productivity in 2013.
Matt Zanellato- Zanellato only had two grabs for 19 yards in 2012, but looks to become a much bigger part of the offense this season. A tall, lanky receiver is an inexperienced quarterback's best friend (think Brett Brackett during Rob Bolden's freshman season) and Zanellato's standout performance in the Blue-White Game demonstrates how he will be targeted as a possession receiver and safety valve this fall. He also has the size and speed to be another deep threat for the Nittany Lions. The only question is, will there be enough passes to go around for the junior receiver to make a major impact?
Stay tuned on Wednesday for Cari's take on the five players she is excited to watch in 2013.
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