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Blue-White Game Position Preview: Wide Receiver

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series previewing Penn State football, part of Onward State and StateCollege.com’s countdown of insight and analysis about head coach James Franklin and his team heading into the Blue-White Game on April 12. Read the previous stories here.

Today’s preview cast speculation on a position that has received the most attention this offseason: wide receiver. The absence of Allen Robinson leaves the offense with some uncertainty.

Key Losses: Allen Robinson, Brandon Felder

Key Returners: Eugene Lewis, Richy Anderson, Matt Zanellato

Incoming Players: De’Andre Thompkins, Chris Godwin, Saeed Blacknall, Troy Apke

Depth Chart: The depth for experienced players is alarmingly low. Eugene Lewis is the team’s leading returning wide receiver right now with 18 receptions for 234 yards and 3 TDS compared to Richy Anderson, who had 13 receptions for 111 yards and zero touchdowns. Returning senior Matt Zanellato had four receptions for 53 yards.

Prediction: The wide receiver position holds the most uncertainty for the upcoming 2014 season.  The absence of Allen Robinson leaves a huge hole in the offense. Then again, the same was said when Derek Moye left Penn State and Robinson was essentially a nobody.

It would be hard to expect Lewis to step up and become the lead receiver, but with an opportunity for more reps and playing time, he could increase his productivity. Blacknall and Godwin, both four-star recruits, have been described as college-ready and will likely see immediate playing time with the position’s lack of depth.  If they can make an impact right away it may be a help to fill some needs and hopefully help avoid a downturn for Christian Hackenberg in his sophomore season.

Franklin’s experience as the wide-receiver coach at Maryland and the Green Bay Packers will be an asset in getting the young players ready, but it also may lead to using the receivers more creatively.

Who knows what is going to happen to the offense this season without Robinson? If all else fails, O’Brien’s love affair with tight ends has created an excellent duo in Jesse James and Adam Breneman, a pair that will give Hackenberg more options downfield this season.

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