The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Penn State Nittany Lions.
No. 15: Penn State Nittany Lions
Spring Practice Starts: March 19
Spring Game: April 21
Penn State Nittany Lions Spring Status
Four points. The Nittany Lions lost to Ohio State and Michigan State on the road by a grand total of four points, and that was the only problem last season going 11-2 with a Fiesta Bowl win over Washington.
No, there’s no Saquon Barkley anymore, and the personnel losses here and there are big ones, but great recruiting classes have loaded up the program with talent waiting in the wings.
Trace McSorley is the leader now, and he’s got enough good receivers to work with to keep the high-powered O rolling. The line is fine, and yeah, there are other running backs who’ll make the Barkley-less ground attack work.
The D is a different story, losing the four great players in the secondary, both starting defensive tackles, and the top linebackers. The cupboard is hardly bare, but some special players are gone.
This is still going to be a very, very good team. But it’s going to be an interesting spring to figure out who the right pieces are going to be.
Penn State Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Running back. The secondary has a few great players ready to fill in the gaps, but that’s still a concern. The recruiting classes have stocked the shelves at linebacker, but that’s an issue, too. The Nittany Lions will eventually be fine, but how do they possibly overcome the loss of Barkley?
Miles Sanders will get the first look after running for 191 yards and two scores last season, but the job is hardly his. Star recruit Ricky Slade might be the answer in fall camp, and Mark Allen has been around long enough to potentially be okay with a little time.
Penn State Biggest Issue
Line protection. The O line has experience with four starters returning, and it’s expected to be solid, but it had a rough time last season keeping defenses out of the backfield. The Nittany Lion front five allowed a whopping 91 tackles for loss and it wasn’t great at keeping McSorley from getting hit, giving up 29 sacks.
Penn State Biggest Positive
McSorley. No, he’s not Baker Mayfield, but he’s an undersized baller with an attitude – in a good way. He ran for 11 scores, threw for 28, and had an uncanny knack for always coming up with the right third down play at the right time. Barkley might have been the star of the Iowa game, but it was McSorley who led the way to the game-winning drive. The quarterback is in place – the Nittany Lions will figure out everything else.
Really, Why Are The Penn State Nittany Lions Ranked Here?
There are just too many big losses. Yeah, Penn State has the talent to fill in the gaps, and yeah, there are several great parts returning, but the program lost some phenomenal talents, including offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.
This will still be a dangerous player in the Big Ten race, and don’t discount the potential for the preseason ranking to be much higher than this. First, the depth chart has to be filled out.