Penn State Football Releases First Depth Chart

James Franklin released Penn State’s first depth chart of the 2016 season Tuesday prior to his Kent State-week press conference in Beaver Stadium.

There were no questions as to who would be listed atop the skill positions on offense, as quarterback Trace McSorley was named the starter following last Wednesday’s practice. Everyone knew Saquon Barkley would be the top dog at running back, but it was Andre Robinson who beat out Mark Allen and stud freshman Miles Sanders for the backup job. The Nittany Lions have one of the strongest trios of starting wideouts in the Big Ten in Chris Godwin, DaeSean Hamilton, and Saeed Blacknall. Slot guys DeAndre Thompkins and Brandon Polk should see significant time in Joe Moorhead’s no-huddle offense. Towering redshirt freshmen Juwan Johnson and Irvin Charles will rotate in frequently for wide receivers coach Josh Gattis, as well.

To no surprise, junior Mike Gesicki was listed as the first-string tight end, but Franklin announced that redshirt sophomore and presumed backup Nick Bowers will miss the season with an unspecified injury, which certainly hurts the depth at a position that had already lost three tight ends from last year’s roster. Tom Pancoast and Jonathan Holland will serve as Gesicki’s primary spells, but it’s certainly possible true freshman Danny Dalton could the see the field.

Consistent with Franklin’s update along the offensive line from last Wednesday’s practice, Penn State listed a starting group of, from left to right, Brendan Mahon, Ryan Bates, Brian Gaia, Derek Dowrey, and Andrew Nelson. Senior Paris Palmer, who started 11 games at left tackle last season for the Nittany Lions, backs up Mahon, while graduate senior Wendy Laurent is the second center. True freshmen Michal Menet and Connor McGovern are the second-team guards and redshirt junior Chasz Wright is the backup right tackle.

The big news along the defensive line is redshirt freshman Kevin Givens, who surged past Antoine White for the starting three-technique spot next to veteran Parker Cothren. Garrett Sickels returns as Sean Spencer’s most experienced lineman and will start opposite graduate senior Evan Schwan. Torrence Brown and Ryan Buchholz should receive plenty of run, as the Nittany Lions are known to keep their Wild Dogs fresh by rolling with some younger contributors for a few plays in relief of the two-deep. Walk-on Ryan Monk and JuCo transfer Tyrell Chavis are listed as the third-string defensive tackles.

Interestingly, junior Jason Cabinda grabbed the starting Mike linebacker over Nyeem Wartman-White, who will still help Cabinda make calls and set the defense from the Will. Senior Brandon Bell holds down the Sam ahead of Manny Bowen, who made his debut as a true freshman alongside Jake Cooper last fall in Wartman-White’s absence.

Junior Grant Haley and sophomore John Reid are Penn State’s starting corners and they’ll be pushed in practice by Christian Campbell and Amani Oruwariye, who should also factor in heavily on special teams. Marcus Allen and Malik Golden round of the starting secondary at the two safety spots, while Troy Apke, Koa Farmer, and Nick Scott will be counted on to provide depth and speed for Charles Huff’s “we-fense.”

Speaking of special teams, which was perhaps the most interesting section of the depth chart, true freshman Blake Gillikin needed a few short months to beat out Daniel Pasquariello for starting punter duties. Tyler Davis remains Penn State’s top option at kicker, with Joey Julius and freshman Alex Barbir listed behind him. Scott is listed ahead of Barkley, Polk, and Sanders at kick returner, while senior Gregg Garrity, Jr. retains his starting job from the Taxslayer Bowl at punt returner just above Thompkins and Mark Allen.

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

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