Lions ready for more from redshirts

Bill O'Brien welcomed seven new players to campus this week, and the Nittany Lions hope to welcome several more members of the Class of 2013 on National Signing Day.

Penn State has some high hopes for redshirted running back Akeel Lynch.

Penn State's head coach will be looking for some of the players in the Class of 2012 to step up this fall, though.

Six true freshmen -- Steven Bench, DaQuan Davis, Jesse James, Jordan Lucas, Nyeem Wartman and Trevor Williams -- saw action for the Nittany Lions last season.

Bench, who will be the team's most experienced returning quarterback, and Williams, who caught 10 passes in 2012, should be involved in some part of the offensive game plan. But a couple of other skill players who redshirted last season could be in line for bigger roles on offense as well, according to the coach.

Related Link: VIP Redshirt Rundown - Akeel Lynch

"Obviously we can't wait to see what (running back) Akeel Lynch does. We think he's got a really good future for us," O'Brien said Monday. "Go to the tight end position, Brent Wilkerson really impressed us on the practice field."

Both O'Brien and wide receivers coach Stan Hixon raved about Eugene Lewis at different points throughout the season, and O'Brien also said Monday he was looking forward to seeing what receiver Malik Golden can do. Wendy Laurent could push for some playing time on the interior of the offensive line.

There will be opportunities for the 2012 redshirts on defense as well, particularly on a front seven that graduated six of its top nine players. Look for defensive tackle Austin Johnson to make a push.

"We really think he's got a great future for us," O'Brien said.

O'Brien wouldn't say if Wartman, who played in the first two games of the season before injuring his knee, would apply for a medical redshirt, but either way he will likely be one of the top candidates to replace outside linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges.

In the secondary, Davis, who had three pass breakups and five tackles in 11 games, could be one of the top candidates to replace Stephon Morris at corner.

"I could go right down the list for you, but there's a lot of good young talent in this program that we think bodes well for the future," O'Brien said, "and now we just can't wait to get out there and start coaching them."

Impressing the coaches on the scout team, however, and doing what's necessary to see -- and be successful on -- the field on game days are two different things.

"The thing with those guys now is you're going from reading a card to actually having to learn the system," O'Brien said. "You can look at a card in the Dirty Show, and they say, 'Run this curl at 14 yards' and you run the curl. Now it's about going out there and learning the system and doing it. We're looking forward to seeing how those guys adapt to it and get going."

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