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Countdown To Dublin: Five Freshman To Watch This Fall

by on August 14, 2014 6:00 AM

There is nothing easy about making the transition from high school to college football.

Everyone is bigger, faster and strong. For the vast majority of the incoming freshman class nationwide, it'll be a year of learning and getting up to speed. Some freshman will contribute early and often. A small number will play a vital role in their team's success.

At Penn State things are a little different. With limited scholarships, and in turn limited talent, it doesn't matter how old you are or how much football you have played. If you can make a positive impact on the team and the season, you'll play.

It's hard to know which Penn State freshmen will make the biggest impact, but here are five freshman that might just play big roles this season. 

LB: Jason Cabinda.

With linebacker depth issues coming only second to offensive line issues, some new faces could make a name for themselves at Penn State's most prestigious position. At 6-foot-1, 248 pounds, Cabinda fits the physical bill from the outset. Cabinda might have a little work to do coming off of a DUI charge in March, but that kind of thing won't slow him down forever. Bottom line, Cabinda looks the part and that's half the battle on a shorthanded roster.

TE: Mike Gesicki 

A freak athlete, it's likely that Gesicki will pick up the blocking aspects of the position quickly. Once he becomes a reliable blocker it will only be a matter of time before he's giving Kyle Carter or Jesse James a play off. Adam Breneman saw his work load increase over the course of his freshman season. Gesicki might be too talented -- and now too important, with Breneman injured -- for any kind of gradual introduction to the college game.

P: Daniel Pasquariello

Chris Gulla wasn't bad during the Blue White game but his performance didn't showcase wasn't outstanding. Pasquariello comes from an Australian kicking school that has churned out collegiate and NFL alumni so expectations will be high for him. It's hard to say how Pasquariello is doing since nobody has seen him punt, but he will be in the competition mix before the season begins. That might sound unimportant, but it might not look that way when it helps produce a kicker who can swing field position in a close game.

WR: DeAndre Thompkins

James Franklin says Thompkins is the fastest player on the team. That in itself should be reason enough. To go into at least a little more detail, it's probable that Penn State will try to get the ball into the hands of the fastest player on the team. The rest of Thompkins' skills are unknown. But if he can be a reliable target for Christian Hackenberg, speed can make up for a lot of things if you can get him the ball in space. That's good enough to land him on the list.

LB: Koa Farmer

Another potential name to know, Farmer made the switch from DB to linebacker this summer. That move was likely inevitable but his size, 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, means he can contribute. Given the relative unknowns at the linebacker position Farmer will likely get a few chances to prove his worth if his summer goes well.

T: Chasz Wright

At 6-foot-7, 321 pounds it's easy to see Wright getting a shot on an offensive line that is a question mark at nearly every position. If he can pick up all the blocking schemes and concepts it'll go a long way toward early playing time. A big factor working in Wright's favor is his early enrollment -- giving him a leg up on some of his fellow freshman. Playing on the offensive line isn't easy by any stretch, but with a line far from settled in, this could be a prime opportunity to see what kind of damage a talent with his size can do.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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