Despite being tasked with replacing two long-time starters in Will Fries and Michal Menet, Penn State’s offensive line is poised to *maybe* be a strength of the offense. I say *maybe* because if you’ve followed Penn State football for the last decade, you know the trials and tribulations of the offensive line player. But, being the optimistic idiot that I am, I’m firmly in the “this is good” territory with the offensive line.
Locked In Starters
Rasheed Walker (LT), Caedan Wallace (RT), and Mike Miranda (C)
There’s going to be some mixing-and-matching going on throughout the summer and into fall camp with the guard spots along the offensive front, but Walker at left tackle, Wallace at right tackle, and the grizzled vet Miranda at center all seem pretty well locked in.
It can’t be understated just how big it was that Walker decided to come back for his redshirt junior season. While he hasn’t been Levi Brown-dominant, he’s flashed big-time potential during his first two seasons as a starter at the blindside. A real offseason with Phil Trautwein has me excited for what he should become — that is, a First Team All-Big Ten caliber player.
Wallace took over right tackle duties during the middle of last season, and played well enough that he never let it go. Like Walker, Wallace was a big-time recruit, so seeing those Top 100 four-stars along the offensive line “hit” is a big development if Penn State wants to jump from “great” to “elite.”
Inside, Miranda will be taking over center duties from Menet — which makes sense. Miranda is a redshirt senior who has played a ton of football during his time in Happy Valley, so moving him to center where he’ll have a lot more of the vocal responsibilities is sound logic.
Desmond Holmes (OG), Juice Scruggs (OG), and Eric Wilson (OG)
Here’s where things get interesting. For the spring, Holmes is manning the left guard spot while Scruggs is getting work at right guard. But this is a battle that will go into August as Harvard grad transfer Eric Wilson won’t be in Happy Valley until later this spring, after his Harvard commencement.
If you recall, Wilson was quite the get in the transfer portal. He was coming off Second Team All-Ivy League honors in 2019, and was projected as not only a First Team All-Ivy League honoree in 2020, but as an FCS All-American as well. When Harvard and the Ivy League decided that football wouldn’t be played in 2020, Wilson went into the portal — at one point committing to Auburn before opening things back up after Gus Malzahn was canned.
So yeah, Wilson is no schlub and isn’t coming to Penn State with the intention to provide depth. I think any combo of those three could be the starters at the guards, and honestly, we will likely see a rotation regardless of who the “starters” are.
Anthony Whigan and Landon Tengwall
I mentioned both Whigan and Tengwall back in January as guys to keep an eye on. Here’s what I said:
Despite being a JUCO product, Whigan came into Penn State quite underdeveloped from a strength standpoint, so this coming season (year three) will probably be the first one where he’s at where he needs to be physically.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Tengwall, who looked like a Division-I offensive lineman when he was in 10th grade. Seriously. A top 100 prospect, he’s as technically sound as any offensive lineman in the country, and he’s already enrolled in Happy Valley and will take part in all offseason activities. Would not be surprising in the least bit if he starts at some point for the Nittany Lions in 2021.
Both Whigan and Tengwall have received high praise this spring, but with the addition of Eric Wilson, that will probably keep both from making serious runs at starting gigs. Still though, Penn State is in a very good spot if its No. 7 and No. 8 offensive lineman are Whigan and Tengall. Both offer the versatility of playing inside or kicking out to right tackle, which is valuable for the o-line as a whole.