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Depth Chart & Injury Report Week One: Akron

James Franklin’s lips are unzipped, and we have our first depth chart of the 2017-18 season.

NCAA Football: Penn State Blue-White Game Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The following depth chart is based on a true story.

We’re back! Football season is so close I can almost reach out and touch it, and in 4 days we’ll be wondering how the off-season went by so quickly.

If you’re new here, you might not know that James Franklin treats the depth chart release as an obligation, and rarely does it match up exactly with what we’ll see on the field the following Saturday. Still, as we begin a new season, it’s interesting to see where the freshmen land and if there are any major surprises.

There are a few positions worth some attention. Beginning with the starters, it appears DeAndre Thompkins has overtaken Saeed Blacknall for the Wide Receiver (Z) starting position, opposite Juwan Johnson. Blacknall has been inconsistent, but the potential is there. Perhaps we’ll see him play a situational role and get more involved in the red-zone.

It was announced earlier, but Troy Apke has officially earned a starting role at safety where he’ll play alongside Marcus Allen. The coaches have spoken highly of Apke’s development, and it’s now reflected in the depth chart.

Additional items of note:

Redshirt freshman Shane Simmons is listed as the 3rd string DE behind Torrence Brown and Colin Castagna, a surprise for those who have been high on Simmons since coming out of high school. With the way Sean Spencer rotates his defensive line personnel, I expect we’ll still see Simmons against Akron.

Another stud recruit, Lamont Wade, is listed behind Tariq Castro-Fields, making him a 3rd stringer as well. Castro-Fields is another player who has received rave reviews throughout camp.

True Freshman Sean Clifford has overtaken Jake Zembiec as the 3rd string QB behind Tommy Stevens, raising some concerns about the development of Zembiec and his future on the team.

There are no new injuries to speak of, and let’s keep it that way.

I’ll let you inspect the remainder of the depth chart, feel free to share anything you’re surprised by in the comments.

penn state depth chart week 1 versus akron