Three Takeaways From Penn State Football’s First Depth Chart Of 2019
Penn State football officially unveiled its first depth chart of the 2019 season Tuesday afternoon. As always, there’s plenty to divulge, analyze, and talk about in regards to the Nittany Lions’ first three-deep of the year.
Some of the inclusions on the depth chart weren’t particularly surprising. Fans had a hunch that KJ Hamler, Jahan Dotson, and Justin Shorter would be listed as the Nittany Lions’ three starting wideouts, and we already knew that Sean Clifford was going to top the quarterback depth chart. thanks to the team’s announcement last Friday.
Here are three of our biggest takeaways from Penn State’s first depth chart of the 2019 season.
Depth At Wide Receiver
A lot has been made of Penn State’s youth when it comes to the starting lineup, and that’s a valid concern. Redshirt sophomore KJ Hamler will lead a position group that’ll boast sophomore Jahan Dotson and redshirt freshman Justin Shorter as starters, but don’t be mistaken: This is a deep position group.
Penn State has plenty of talent behind the three starting wide receivers. Daniel George is listed as Shorter’s backup, and Mac Hippenhammer is listed as the primary backup to KJ Hamler, who will likely start the year at slot receiver. Both George and Hippenhammer have talent and should be able to make a big impact throughout this season.
George is a talented redshirt freshman who might’ve been overshadowed by some of the higher-rated recruits in his class, but he was on the receiving end of the longest touchdown pass in program history last season. Hippenhammer has an excellent understanding of the game, and he’s got plenty of experience with 12 appearances under his belt last year.
Add in the return of redshirt sophomore Cam Sullivan-Brown following a brief transfer portal stay and the emergence of fifth-year senior Dan Chisena this spring, and Penn State has seven wideouts ready to make a difference this year. That’s not too shabby for a ~young~ position group.
Where In The World Is Nick Tarburton?
Nick Tarburton is a talented redshirt freshman defensive end who may not have been necessarily expected to compete for a starting job this season. However, seeing his name excluded entirely from the first three-deep of Penn State’s 2019 season was a surprise.
Tarburton made two appearances as a true freshman, and James Franklin was high on him entering the 2018 season. Franklin also rates the likes of Shane Simmons, Jayson Oweh, Adisa Isaac, and Daniel Joseph very highly, so he has a ridiculous amount of depth at the position.
You can easily make the argument that Penn State has four defensive ends (Yetur Gross-Matos, Shaka Toney, Simmons, and Oweh) who would walk into most starting lineups in college football and two of the nation’s most promising prospects at the position in Oweh and Isaac. The team truly has a surplus of riches to work with, and Tarburton may have just gotten lost in the shuffle.
I don’t think Tarburton’s exclusion from the depth chart is some sort of damning statement about his ability as a player. If one of the six defensive ends listed on the first depth chart goes down to an injury at any point this season, Tarburton is more than capable of filling that void.
Starting Safety, Lamont Wade
Outside of quarterback, the most intriguing position battle throughout training camp was at safety. Last season, Garrett Taylor quickly emerged as the clear and obvious candidate to start alongside Nick Scott after the departures of Troy Apke and Marcus Allen a year earlier.
Taylor is undoubtedly the position group’s leader, so redshirt sophomore Jonathan Sutherland and junior Lamont Wade competed for the job to start alongside him. Wade ended up beating out Sutherland and will get the starting nod against Idaho on Saturday.
Franklin said that Wade is feeling confident and comfortable in his role now, and he specifically praised how he handles adversity and his tackling ability. On top of his tackling and blitzing acumen, Wade has been lining up against Hamler in coverage throughout camp, and Franklin said that’s been beneficial for both parties involved.
Although Wade is listed as the starter, Sutherland should get his fair share of snaps. He’s a physical defensive back who has the power to force fumbles out of even the most sure-handed backs and receivers in the country. Still, it’s nice to see Wade’s patience pay off — especially after he briefly entered the transfer portal this offseason.
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