Bscaff’s pick for this year’s breakout player, redshirt sophomore Ryan Bates looks to be a key part of a more veteran Penn State offense this season. He came to the Nittany Lions from Archbishop Wood as one of the top five players in the state in the 2015 recruiting class, and a top-fifteen offensive tackle nation-wide.
Bates was thrown into the starting spot almost immediately last season, and he quickly showed himself to be a force to be reckoned with on his way to an eventual Freshman All-American season, and was named to both ESPN.com and BTN.com all-freshman teams.
Redshirt senior Curtis Cothran, on the other hand, was expected pre-season last year to be a very important part of the Penn State defensive front seven, and he delivered.
Cothran was part of Bill O’Brien’s second recruiting class in Happy Valley, a three-star defensive end who committed to the program early on in O’Brien’s tenure, and well before the sanctions were handed down. He redshirted his first year in the blue and white, and played sparingly his freshman year of eligibility before finally seeing significant time as part of the two-deep at DE as a redshirt sophomore in 2015.
It was until his redshirt junior year, when he moved to the interior of the defensive line, that Cothran broke out, starting eight of the team’s fourteen games, and logging 21 tackles (including 4.5 for loss) in just ten games played after being suspended for the first four games for violation of team rules. Cothran looks to start and anchor a very good interior line this season.