As every college football fan knows, the four-month period between the end of spring practice and the beginning of fall practice is a dark time. Any information that comes out other than recruiting news is likely bad (just ask the fans in Columbus, Ohio), and rumors and speculation dominate the wires, both in the mainstream media and on blogs and message boards.
In Happy Valley, Penn State is dealing with some issues of its own this summer, including some troubling injuries, possible transfers, and a potential case of oversigning. Earlier we took a look at the position battles for the team heading into spring practice (Parts One, Two, Three and Four); now that we've entered the dead zone of the offseason, we can take a look at the potential depth chart for the fall and see who might not be with the team come August.
A quick look at the projected depth chart might seem promising, but a deeper look, both at certain positions and with individual players in mind, reveals some potential nightmares for the Nittany Lions. (DISCLAIMER: Since it's mid-May and the final depth chart won't be known for three months, certain liberties have been taken with position placement; further, some players have been practicing at new positions during the spring due to lack of depth, but the players have been placed in the spots where they'll likely end up in August.)
QB (4) - Bolden, McGloin, Jones, Newsome
RB (4) - Redd, Green, Beachum, Dukes
FB (3) - Suhey, Zordich, Zwinak
WR (10) - Moye, Brown, Smith, Kersey, Moseby-Felder, Belton, Kuntz, Zanellato, Robinson, Drake
TE (5) - Gilliam, Haplea, Szczerba, Yancich, Carter
OL (19) - Barham, Troutman, Stankiewitch, Urschel, Okoli, Gress, Mateas, Howle, Pannell, Farrell, Cadogan, Figueroa, Dieffenbach, Arcidiacano, Shrive, Mangiro, Ricketts, Nowicki, Smith
DL (19) - Crawford, Still, Jones, Latimore, Baublitz, Hill, Terry, Stanley, Oakman, Ware, Hailes, Olaniyan, Kerner, Zettel, Graham, Barnes, Alosi, Kolb, Massaro
LB (9) - Hodges, Mauti, Stupar, Hull, Carson, Fortt, Royer, Bars, Kline
DB (12) - Lynn, Astorino, Sukay, Morris, Thomas, Willis, Obeng-Agyapong, Powell, Wallace, Amos, Kenney, Pullium
P/K (2) - Fera, Ficken
Initially, it appears that the depth chart is pretty well spread out, with no position having way too many or way too few players. With injuries and intra-position separation, though, a different story emerges. Tight ends, the secondary, and the defensive line are all dealing with injuries and depth chart issues, both of which were covered in the position breakdowns above. Add in the latest ripple of offseason news, namely that redshirt junior Brandon Ware is likely transferring out of Penn State, and the defensive line got even thinner. Trust in the coaching staff is generally high at Penn State (save for the extremists who will find pessimism in everything), but the numbers suggest that certain areas are tenuous. Hopefully the injury bug stays away from the team this offseason.
It doesn't take a math major to see that the above depth chart contains 87 names. Though 15 of those players won't be on campus until at least the summer sessions, NCAA regulations mandate that only 85 players may receive football scholarships in any given year. If Ware does in fact transfer prior to the 2011 season, that number goes down by one, but that means that one player listed above won't be with the team.
One of the quarterbacks is a primary candidate for the final departure spot, and many PSU fans are still waiting for news on how that story will shake out. Until one of them, or some other player [one in particular ($) is another prime candidate due to grades], makes the decision to not return to the team, though, some people might say that Penn State is currently oversigned. This is a debate for another day, but there is a very good chance that PSU will be at the 85 required scholarships by the time the 15 remaining Class of 2011 recruits arrive on campus.