Teammates Singing the Praises of Kyle Baublitz
When Penn State’s defensive line comes up in conversation, Kyle Baublitz is not one of the first names that comes to the forefront, but this spring, it’s all his teammates want to talk about.
The defensive tackle has gone relatively unnoticed during his first two active seasons with the program — and for good reason. Baublitz had a very quiet 2012 season, only seeing snaps in six games and finishing the year with three tackles. His defensive linemates think that is about to change.
“Kyle Baublitz has impressed me,” said defensive end Deion Barnes when talking with reporters yesterday. “He’s coming out of his shell. I’ve never seen him like this before.”
Those are strong words from the team’s 2012 sack leader and Big Ten Freshman of the Year, who is bound for even bigger things in 2013. While Barnes’ compliments may have some pull, he’s not the only one to offer praise.
“Kyle has really stood out. He’s really sticking out at the three technique,” said senior defensive tackle DaQuan Jones who is expected to anchor the interior of the front four this upcoming season.
“He has the ability to grasp everything we do and makes a good number of plays back-to-back. He’s a very sound technique type of guy.”
While Jones is expected to occupy one of the starting defensive tackle spots, the other one atop the depth chart is up for grabs. Yet to show much on the field outside of a sack against Temple’s Chris Coyer last September, Baublitz may not have the buzz factor of younger, more unknown players at his position like redshirt freshmen Austin Johnson, Derek Dowrey, and Brian Gaia, but he is the only one with any live game experience.
Bill O’Brien expects him to see more of it in the fall now. “He’ll play a lot this spring. I see him as a really good guy that’s smart on and off the field — a tough, very tough player,” said the Nittany Lions head coach last week during his spring press conference.
No longer stuck behind Jordan Hill and James Terry on the depth chart, opportunity knocks for the 6-foot-5 292 lb. junior from York, Pa. to work himself into Larry Johnson Sr.’s rotation and have a more defined role.
“We’re going to have guys that step up. I don’t know if they can do what Jordan did, but they’re going to step up, create pressure,” said Barnes.
Rotating players on the defensive line was key to maintaining depth throughout the year, and it appears that Baublitz — who saw playing time in six games last year — will be a key part of the rotation moving forward.
“We’ll rotate a lot of guys in, and he’ll play a lot for us next year as long as he continues to improve,” O’Brien said.