Penn State returns 16 starters and 38 letterwinners for the 2013 season, O'Brien's second as head coach. The Nittany Lions face the first of eight bowl opponents from last year when they tangle with old rival Syracuse on August 31 in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
"We felt like it was a productive spring...we were able to accomplish a lot at all three areas," stated O'Brien, who earned several national and Big Ten Coach of the Year accolades in 2012. "We felt like some of the younger players on our team were really improved. When we met with the players (after spring practice), I think they appreciate us sitting down with them and tell them one-on-one what their role is on the team and how they can change that role. We have a very good feeling about our team this summer."
Nine seniors are listed on the first team: five on offense, three on defense and one specialist. There are 21 players on the depth chart who have made at least one start in their careers. Senior middle linebacker Glenn Carson (Manahawkin, N.J.) has 24 career starts, the most among all returnees. Senior safety Malcolm Willis (Marbury, Md.) is next with 17 career starts.
Penn State will feature a new starting quarterback after the graduation of Matt McGloin, who broke 10 school records in 2012. Sophomore Tyler Ferguson (Bakersfield, Calif.), who enrolled in the University in January, and incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) are listed together on the top line of the depth chart.
Another starting position to be determined in training camp is at one of the safety positions, where Willis and junior Ryan Keiser (Selinsgrove) are listed on the top line. Junior Adrian Amos (Baltimore) is the top candidate at the other safety spot after starting all 12 games at cornerback last year. Sophomores Jordan Lucas (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and Trevor Williams (Baltimore), who played wide receiver last year, are listed as the top candidates at the cornerback spots.
Three seniors are listed on the first-team offensive line, led by 2012 first-team All-Big guard and Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.). Center Ty Howle (Wake Forest, N.C.) and tackle Adam Gress (West Mifflin) are the other seniors on the first unit. They are joined by returning starting guard Miles Dieffenbach (Pittsburgh) and tackle Donovan Smith (Owings Mills, Md.).
The Nittany Lions will feature two new starting linebackers after losing the services of All-American Michael Mauti and All-Big Ten honoree Gerald Hodges, both of whom were drafted by the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Carson will likely be joined on the first unit by junior Mike Hull (Canonsburg) and redshirt freshman Nyeem Wartman (Philadelphia).
Carson, who ran 19 yards on a fake punt at Virginia last year, also is the top candidate to handle long snapping duties. Howle returns to handle snaps on field goals and PAT attempts for the fourth season.
The Nittany Lions will report for training camp on Sunday, August 4, with the first practice scheduled for the following day.
--PSU Athletic Communications--