Saturday, April 9, 2016

Penn State Running Back Preview: 2016 Season

The Penn State running game is arguably the area of offense which fans are most excited about. With the installation of Offensive Coordinator, Joe Moorhead's new system, the running backs should be a crisp and effective unit. The new system should allow multiple running lanes for the boys in Blue & White to run through. Penn State fans know the 2016 running backs as the "three-headed monster." Saquon Barkley, Andre Robinson, and incoming freshman Miles Sanders are expected to dominate the run game next season. While sophomores Mark Allen and Johnathan Thomas are expected to break up carries. The advantage of this group is youth, but it could be a challenge to utilize all five running backs on the field. Nonetheless, the corps of running backs should be fun to watch next season.

Saquon Barkley:

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Saquon Barkley is arguably one of the best-running backs in not only the Big Ten but in the nation. The freshman has already carved a name for himself in Happy Valley. He played behind one of the worst offensive lines in college football and was still able to rack up over 1,000 yards. Barkley is the best running back Penn State football has seen in years. He is able to break tackles, hurdle defenders and get the ball into the end zone. He is expected to accumulate another incredible season if he is able to stay healthy, and I would not be surprised if he is a potential Heisman candidate at the end of next season. One thing is for sure: Saquon Barkley is the real deal, and 2015 was only the beginning. 

Andre Robinson:

(Photo from Joe Hermitt,

Robinson is known as a legendary name at Penn State. Micheal Robinson was one of Penn State's greatest quarterback's and Allen Robinson was an incredible wide receiver during his time at Penn State. Andre Robinson should be no exception. The four-star recruit out of Harrisburg, PA redshirted his freshman season, putting on muscle and gaining experience. Robinson is a very strong running back. He's built like Zach Zwinak, strong, fast and and tough to bring down when he gets the ball into his hands. Andre Robinson should have no problem making a name for himself next season. 

Miles Sanders:

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The talk of the 2016 recruiting class. Miles Sanders is a five star recruit out of Pittsburg, PA and should an immediate starter for the Nittany Lions. Sanders should be the first option behind Barkley. He is a true threat to defenses and should be used to give Barkley a break on offense. With the transfer of Akeel Lynch to Nevada to play his final year of eligibilty, and Nick Scott's move to DB, Sanders should be able to create a name for himself. He has incredible speed and should become a huge playmaker for the Nittany Lions next season.  

Mark Allen:

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Mark Allen is one of the fastest players on the team. The redshirt freshman was able to get the ball into the end zone when he needed to. He had his first carrer touchdown against San Diego State last season. With the expectation of Barkley, Robinson and Sanders starting next season, Allen could potentially be a great punt or kick returner.  He is a very talented running back and should be used break up snaps between Barkley, Robinson and Sanders next season.

Johnathan Thomas:

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Johnothan Thomas is an unknown running back but he could be just the key to the Nittany Lions offense. The 5-11 / 217 sophomore could really turn some heads next season. He made his first coligate debut against Army last season. Thomas should be another contender for breaking up snaps next season and prove his talent as a three star recruit. 

The Penn State Nittany Lions have some of the best running backs in the Big Ten. Saquon Barkley should continue his record shattering career as one of the best running backs in the nation. Andre Robinson will be able to show his talent as a monsterous running back. Miles Sanders will finally be able to show Nittany Nation why he was the number one running back in the nation as a recruit. Mark Allen should be a valuable kick or punt returner and break up snaps when needed. Johnathan Thomas should be able to help break up snaps while carving a name for himself. Penn State has produced some legendary running backs like Curt Warner, Larry Johnson and Ki-Jana Carter. The new generation is here, and will prove why Penn State University has some of the best runnning backs in College Football. We Are.

By Mark Benson

Friday, April 1, 2016

Penn State Wide Receiver Preview: 2016 Season

Spring Practice for the Penn State Nittany Lions kicked off on March 18th, and it is safe to say wide receiver is the position with the most depth. Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead has installed his new offensive over the past months. The new offense is up-tempo and extremely fast moving. The woes of last season should not keep the Nittany Lions from losing close games or even competing for the Big Ten Title in the upcoming years. The corps of Penn State’s wide receivers are some of the most talented receivers not only the Big Ten Conference but in the nation.

Chris Godwin:

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One of Penn State’s most talented wide receivers, Chris Godwin is an offensive force on the field. The junior should once again be a top receiving target. Godwin had an absolutely incredible sophomore campaign. He finished the season second in the Big Ten with 1,101 yards. Godwin became just the third wide receiver in Penn State history to pass the 1,000-yard mark in one season, only after Bobby Ingram and Allen Robinson. Godwin racked up 69 receptions in the 2016 season. He also owns the Penn State record for most career receiving yards in a bowl game. (273 yards in two bowls) Chris Godwin should continue his reign as a top receiver and have a solid year come next season.

Daesean Hamilton:

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Despite what some may call a sophomore slump, Daesean Hamilton should be another receiver to watch during the 2016 season. The junior should be Godwin’s partner in receptions next season. Hamilton had an absolute dominant redshirt freshman breakout season. He led the Big Ten in receptions for the entire season (82). He started all 13 games and was named Big Ten All-Freshman team by Over the past two seasons, Hamilton had 1,479 receptions and 8 touchdowns. Hamilton is a fantastic wide receiver. He has an incredible amount of athleticism, talent and work ethic. Hamilton added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame over spring practice and remains a top target for the Nittany Lions next season.

 Saeed Blacknall:

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One of, if not Penn State’s most underrated players is Saeed Blacknall. Penn State already has two incredible wide receivers’ and Blacknall should be the third for the 2016 season Watching Blacknall play football over the past two years has been somewhat frustrating. Fans are not able to see what he can bring to the table when he gets the ball into his hands. Blacknall averages an incredible thirty-one yards per reception. He receives a very limited amount of passes and is overshadowed by Godwin and Hamilton. Blacknall has an incredible amount of speed (runs a 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds) and can be a complete game changer. Yes, the depth chart is stacked at the wide receiver position but with the transfer of Geno Lewis to Oklahoma, Blacknall should be able to carve a name for himself and have a breakout junior season.

DeAndre Thompkins:

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DeAndre Thompkins is a true threat to defenses. He has sub 4.5 speed. Despite some muffed punts last season, Thompkins is dangerous when he gets the ball into his hands. He has the explosiveness and shiftiness to be a dominant force. Thompkins should be a key piece for not only a great kick returner but a great wide receiver. Being able to see field time as a redshirt freshman last season, Thompkins should be a threat next season.

Juwan Johnson:

(Photo courtesy of Times

Juwan Johnson is an incredibly vicious wide receiver. He was not able to show his talent due to redshirting his freshman year, but he should be a starter for the Nittany Lions next season. In High School, Jonson played wide receiver and defensive back. He accepted an invitation to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Johnson was a Top 25 Receiver in the 2016 recruiting class and Top 5 in New Jersey. Standing 6-4 and weighing 221, Johnson is a great physical size for a wide receiver. and has even been compared to the great Lions wide receiver Megatron. Johnson should be another starter for Penn State next year. He is too much of a threat not to be.

Brandon Polk:
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Brandon Polk is one of the fastest players on the Penn State football team. When he gets the ball into his hands, Polk is hard to catch. Playing both wide receiver and receiving a couple of snaps as a running back, Polk can play both positions with incredible excellence. Polk was the first Penn State wide receiver to have both receiving and rushing yards in the same season since Derrick Williams had four receiving and three rushing touchdowns in 2008. Brandon Polk has serious potential to be a huge threat for the Nittany Lions and have a breakout sophomore campaign in the upcoming season.

The Penn State Nittany Lions have extreme depth at the wide receiver position. Multiple talented receivers should receive the majority of snaps next season. Chris Godwin should continue his role as a top target, Saeed Blacknall should have a dominant, breakout year while Brandon Polk, DeAndre Thompkins, and Daesean Hamilton should be able to help break up snaps. Juwan Johnson should be able to prove himself as a stellar wide receiver next year. One thing is for sure: Penn State’s wide receivers should be able to tear up some of College Football’s best defenses next season. We Are.

By Mark Benson