Alex Kenney appears to have found a permanent home on offense.
Today we continue our 12 for 2012 series. The list won't necessarily cover the 12 best players on the squad, but those whose production and presence on and off the field will be needed the most if the Nittany Lions are to have the kind of success they're looking for this season.
No. 10 -- Alex Kenney
Rewind: A four-star recruit at State College Area High School, Kenney found various ways to get into the end zone, scoring 56 career touchdowns, including 29 his senior year, as a wideout, return man and defensive back. He was also an accomplished sprinter on the track, setting the Pennsylvania state indoor record in the 60-meter dash. Kenney took a redshirt during his freshman season of 2010, then spent the majority of the 2011 season practicing at cornerback before moving to wide receiver for bowl preparations. He also raced for Penn State's indoor track team in the offseason. Kenney was limited this spring by a knee injury and missed some valuable practice reps but moved up to the No. 1 slot receiver position following the departures of veterans Curtis Drake and Devon Smith.
The Take: Like fellow receiver Shawney Kersey, Kenney can flat-out fly. Get the 6-foot, 192-pounder the ball in his hands with some room to run and he'll leave a trail of defenders in his wake. The key for Kenney will be his ability to operate in the nooks and crannies of defenses, pulling in short and intermediate passes from Matt McGloin. Suffice it to say Bill O'Brien will come up with a number of ways to get Kenney the ball, but he will need to prove he has dependable hands and an ability to follow his blockers to earn those touches.
The Forecast: For years, Penn State fans have been anxious to see Kenney show off his speed on game days. The Nittany Lions' receiving corps is short on seniority and game experience but long on big-play ability, and Kenney, who should be getting comfortable at receiver after bouncing from position to position, is a prime example. Derek Moye, Justin Brown and Smith are gone, which means targets -- and catches -- are there for the taking. If opposing defenses have to devote their attention to Kenney in the slot, it will create opportunities for Penn State's ground game as well as free up outside receivers Kersey and Allen Robinson. Look for Kenney to get a shot as a return man as well, and for him to break off at least a few big plays this season.
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