Here are five guys for Penn State football that Johnny believes could make some noise th fly under the radar heading into the 2014 season:
5. G/C Angelo Mangiro, Jr.––6’3″/309
Mangiro is a versatile player who has the strength to line up at guard and the knowledge to be under center. He has played 24 games over the last two seasons for the Nittany Lions. He was the sixth man on the offensive line, used primarily at the guard position. But with 3/5 of the offensive line graduating and incumbent Miles Dieffenbach going down with an ACL injury, Mangiro will be counted on early and often.
4. LB Brandon Bell, So.––6’1″/222
The ’14 season could be a breakout campaign for Bell. The New Jersey native played 10 games including one start as a true freshman last season, tallying 24 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception. Bell will be in competition for the starting outside linebacker position, with Mike Hull moving to the middle. He is a strong and physical player who attacks the line of scrimmage, and has a ton of upside. Penn State may have another top LB at “Linebacker U.”
3. DT Austin Johnson, So.––6’4″/313
Penn State seems to always have a stud defensive tackle and Johnson could be the next in line. Odrick, Still, Hill, and Jones are just a few over the last couple of seasons. The Lions are known as “Linebacker U”, but they could just as well be called “Defensive Tackle U” with the talent they produce. Johnson is a big, tough, and energizing player who will be asked to wreak havoc for interior Big Ten O-Lines. Johnson recorded 27 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and one sack in 12 games last year, including a pair of starts.
2. G Derek Dowrey, So.––6’3″/323
Who says switching from defensive tackle to offensive guard at a major college program is easy? Dowrey is going to put that notion to the test this season. Dowrey saw action in eight games as a redshirt freshman, and mostly saw time in short-yardage situations. He has impressed during spring workouts and looks to be competing for a starting guard position. He is a massive man at 323 pounds, and can use his strength and quickness to attack lineman and learn the techniques.
1. CB Trevor Williams, Jr.––6’1″/188
Williams has been overshadowed of late by the emergence of fellow PSU cornerback Jordan Lucas, but played 12 games and started half a dozen for Penn State in 2013. Adrian Amos will shift back to safety and give Williams full opportunity to grab the other starting job. He posted 24 tackles and two interceptions last year, with his size Williams provides the Nittany Lions with size and length. The wide receiver-turned-cornerback should give the lions some much needed stability at the position.
Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports