Penn State Football: Five Freshmen Debut in Loss to Ohio
One of the interesting early season developments to watch is which players the coaching staff decides to redshirt.
Five freshmen made their debut in Saturday’s 24-14 loss to Ohio: linebacker Nyeem Wartman, defensive backs Da’Quan Davis and Jordan Lucas, tight end Jesse James and wide receiver Trevor Williams.
They’re all off the table.
Wartman blocked a punt in the second quarter to set up a touchdown and 14-3 halftime lead, and Davis looked good in the second half after Stephon Morris sprained his ankle.
O’Brien, in a recent staff meeting in which ESPN was granted access, said he was considering a redshirt for wide receiver Eugene Lewis and quarterback Steven Bench, if possible.
And don’t forget about running back Akeel Lynch. A PSU spokesman said Bill Belton sprained his ankle and was not sure if an MRI was needed. A few of his teammates said after the game he told them he would be fine.
Does Lynch come off the board Saturday at Virginia?
Hodges Opens Season as Kick Returner, But Will it Last?
OK, who had the 237-pound, All-Big Ten linebacker as the guy who got first crack at returning kickoffs and punts?
If you don’t take up residency in the Lasch Football Building, you’re lying.
Hodges’ day was forgettable. He returned the opening kickoff 12 yards and returned two punts for minus-one yard, including a fumble that led to an Ohio field goal.
Once that happened, Bill O’Brien reverted to Plan B and sent Bill Belton back deep with Adrian Amos.
"He had a lot of time back there, and he's an excellent player and we gave him a lot of work back there,” O'Brien said of the decision to use Hodges.
"We had 4-5 guys that did a lot of work back there. We chose to go with 2-3 guys today, that's what we chose to do.''
Penn State was left short-handed periodically throughout Saturday's game because of cramping.
A humid Labor Day weekend saw temperatures reach the low 80s, and several key players had to leave the game because of muscle cramps.
Among them: left tackle Donovan Smith, cornerback Stephon Morris and linebacker Gerald Hodges.
"They were giving us enough water," tight end Kyle Carter said. "I'm pretty sure people were getting tired out there. It was hot."
Bill Belton and Morris also suffered sprained ankles. Hodges had a heavy bandage wrapped on his right leg. Jordan Hill bruised his left knee, and Derek Day took a shot to the head but later returned.