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At first glance: Nittany Lion QB, LB starters still up in air

Posted Friday, July 30, 2010 by Ed Dalton

At first glance: Nittany Lion QB, LB starters still up in air

July 29, 2010 - By Cory Giger cgiger@altoonamirror.com

Penn State's preseason depth chart, which is included in the just-released media guide, clarifies some lingering questions and has few surprises as the team prepares to start camp next week.

Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin are listed as co-first teamers at quarterback, as expected, and no decision on the starter is likely to come until a week or so before the Sept. 4 opener against Youngstown State.

One of the few other question marks entering camp is which linebackers will be playing what spots, and particularly who will be in the middle.

Chris Colasanti is listed as first string at the middle linebacker spot, while Bani Gbadyu is at the "Sam" or strongside position and Nate Stupar at the "Fritz" or weakside position.

The backups are Michael Yancich in the middle, Gerald Hodges at the Sam and Michael Mauti at the Fritz.

"It's never set in stone," Stupar said of the linebacker alignment, "and we've just got to know all the positions.

"It changes every single week," Stupar added. "Last year Sean [Lee] started at the Sam and Navorro [Bowman] was at the Fritz, and halfway through the season Navorro was at the Sam and Sean was at the Fritz. It's always interchangeable, and that's what's so good about our linebackers. If someone goes down, we can put one in another position."

The one linebacker who doesn't seem to fit that mold is Colasanti, who is considered a good fit for the middle but not fast enough for an outside spot.

"I love the middle," Colasanti said. "It's a little different than being outside because you've got guys coming at you at every angle, but I just like that competition and being able to see the whole offensive line and the backfield. That's where I feel comfortable."

The coaches can get Colasanti on the field by having him in the middle, but that means moving Mauti to an outside spot. Mauti, who sat out last year with a knee injury, may be able to excel at either of the three positions, and if he were to start in the middle it would mean little playing time for Colasanti.

Asked if Mauti is back to 100 percent, Stupar replied, "I'd say it's better than that - 110 percent. He's looking awesome."

Colasanti has waited his turn for a chance to be an impact linebacker, but being first team on the preseason depth chart doesn't always mean much at Penn State.

"Every day is a competition," Colasanti said. "We've always got great linebackers - it's Linebacker U - and that only pushes us, all the linebackers, and especially me to work hard and to get better because you've always got that competition.

"I'm just looking forward to getting out there and being able to play," Colasanti added. "It's been three long years, and I didn't get as many reps as I wanted to. But I'm ready to go. I'm mentally ready and physically ready, and I'm just ready to get out there and make plays."

SUBHD: Depth chart notes

Preference is usually given to upperclassmen on PSU's preseason depth chart, and things can change in a hurry once camp starts. Here are some observations given the initial makeup:

* Paul Jones is on the depth chart as third-string quarterback because he enrolled in January, while summer arrival Robert Bolden is not. No freshmen who arrived during the summer are on the preseason list.

* Brett Brackett is ahead of Curtis Drake as a first-team receiver, perhaps because of his upperclassman status. Brackett hasn't had much production in his career, while Drake is considered a potential standout, but for now the senior appears to be in line to start.

* There are no surprises on the offensive line. Stefen Wisniewski said he has still been working some at center, but as long as Doug Klopacz can handle center, Wisniewski should and will remain at right guard.

* Chaz Powell, now at cornerback, is behind Stephon Morris on the right side. Powell, with his athleticism, would figure to be the nickelback if he doesn't beat out Morris for a starting spot.

* Anthony Fera is the first-team punter, meaning he must be out of Joe Paterno's doghouse after an offseason underage drinking incident.

* Powell and Stephfon Green should provide for some excitement returning kicks.

* Justin Brown is the frontrunner to return punts. No more messing around having Evan Royster back there like last season.

Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and cgsports12@aol.com.

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