Next Season Penn State Will Be Led By A Superstar Prospect And A Handful Of Solid Ones.
We looked at USC in the last edition of this series. This time we’ll look at their opponent in last seasons Rose Bowl, Penn State.
Although they lost in the Rose Bowl last season was a good one for the Nittany Lions. Under head coach James Franklin Penn State seems to be heading in the right direction. They won the Big Ten last year and will look to do more damage next season.
Meet Penn State’s Prospects:
Penn State will still have a majority of their major contributors from last season. One big loss was wide receiver Chris Godwin. They will still have a talented group of wide receivers next year who could step up to replace Godwin’s production. They also have arguably the best running back in the nation to help ease the pain.
Running Back Saquon Barkley, 5’11” 223, Junior:
If you follow college football or have looked at any prospect ranking for the 2018 draft then you have probably at least heard Saquon Barkley’s name by now. That’s because he’s been making college football look pretty ease since he got to Penn State.
In 2015, his freshman year, he rushed for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns. Last year he rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns and added another 402 yards and four touchdowns on 28 receptions.
Barkley is the type of guy who could run you over or just run past you. He has good vision and a great jump-cut. And if he finds open-field he will explode for a big gain. If he keeps going the way he’s been going he will most likely be drafted in the first round of next year’s draft. He will need to compete with Derrius Guice for the title of top running back prospect, which he is very capable of doing.
Tight End Mike Gesicki, 6’6” 252, Senior:
Teams love tight ends that can create mismatches to exploit. Gesicki could be that tight end. He had a break out year last season, catching 48 passes for 679 yards and five touchdowns. For a guy his size he has good speed, body control, and has solid hands.
Like many receiving tight ends Gesicki isn’t the greatest blocker in the world. That is an area he will have to improve. But he will still be able to help an NFL offense. If he has another productive year he could end up being an intriguing prospect for some teams.
Safety Marcus Allen, 6’2” 202, Senior:
Some safeties prefer to sit back, play centerfield, and try to make an incredible interception that will get them on highlight shows the next day. Allen isn’t one of those safeties. He seems to play more like a linebacker than a safety. He led Penn State last season with 110 tackles, six of which were for a loss.
He has zero career interceptions so that will be a red flag for some teams. But if a team is looking for a safety of is aggressive against the run and isn’t afraid to fight through traffic around the line of scrimmage then Allen would be a good choice for them.
Wide Receiver DaeSean Hamilton, 6’1” 205, Redshirt Senior:
Hamilton had his best season as a redshirt freshman back in 2014. That season he caught 82 passes for 899 yards and two touchdowns. His production declined in 2015 and 2016. This is mostly because of the emergence of Chris Godwin which took targets away from Hamilton.
Now that Godwin is playing on Sundays Hamilton will get a chance to regain the role of number one receiver. Hamilton is the type of receiver that quarterbacks love. He doesn’t possess game-breaking speed but he runs good routes and has reliable hands. With those attributes he should easily be able to carve out a role for an NFL offense in the future.
Linebacker Jason Cabinda, 6’1” 232, Senior:
Cabinda is a classic example of a linebacker who relies on instinct and tackling ability rather than athleticism. He’s been very productive over the last two seasons. During the 2015 and 2016 seasons he combined for 181 tackles and nine and a half tackles for loss.
He isn’t the most exciting prospect and will not likely be drafted in the higher rounds of the draft. However with another productive year he could find himself and a pretty solid mid-round option.