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Penn State Football: Five Players Looking To Have A Good Spring

by on February 13, 2017 1:00 PM

Don't look now, but spring practice isn't too far away and with it the annual Blue White game.

To be sure, spring practice is only a slice of the pie when it comes to taking the next step as a player. That comes over the span of months and summer workouts and simply getting into games. Even so, spring practice is an important part of that process and as Penn State heads into a high stakes 2017 season there are more than a few players who could benefit from a productive 15 practices heading into the summer.

Shareef Miller: You can probably substitute any number of defensive ends into this spot, but Miller seems as good of a candidate as any to replace Garrett Sickels on the end of the line. Miller has shown flashes, especially early in the season last year, but hasn't yet taken or had much of an opportunity to take that next step. A good spring won't lock this spot down for Miller, but getting that position battle underway with some quality early season practices won't hurt him either.

DeAndre Thompkins: Not exactly an unknown for fans but maybe the latest example of a guy who could use a Gesicki-like bounce back season. Thompkins has the speed and the skill but drops in the Big Ten title game and at least a small role in Penn State's early Rose Bowl struggles have put Thompkins on a rocky road. It seems that James Franklin and Co. want to utilize Thompkins and its easy to see why when the ball is in his hands, but the mistakes in between those times have hurt him along the way. If nothing else a good spring could help Thompkins gain some confidence back.

Jake Cooper: Penn State has to fill the hole left behind by Brandon Bell and the depth behind him, and in comes Jake Cooper, who was going to be a part of that main rotation prior to injury. A year away from actual football can be a positive and a negative. In either case getting healthy reps with the defense this spring ought to help Cooper get his legs back underneath him. Penn State will need all the linebackers it can get and it stands to reason that the faster Cooper is back in game shape the better off Penn State will be. The same could be said for Brandon Polk at receiver, but Penn State has so many targets already it's hard to say where Polk fits in the mix. Cooper might not start, but Penn State will need him.

Kyle Vasey: Who? That's right Penn State's newest long snapper, an often overlooked position unless things go bad, Vasey is in line to replace the recently graduated Tyler Yazujian who had those duties for a few seasons. It probably doesn't take all of spring practice to get better at something you've been practicing for a few years now, but getting in sync with all the holders and punters this season will be key moving forward. This isn't exactly rocket science, but that doesn't mean it isn't important.

Danny Dalton: One of the more impressive players in last year's Blue White game Dalton is a guy who can step in and give Gesicki a few needed breaks throughout the season. Tight end is a more complicated position than it looks, so getting Dalton up to speed and in place as quality depth behind Gesicki will be essential for the offense. How much on field impact Dalton sees is to be determined, but having another big body in pass protection and a big body to throw to is hardly a bad asset to have. That journey starts now for Dalton as he comes off of injury.

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