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Penn State Football: Position Preview: Offensive Line

by on April 07, 2016 2:00 PM

Who's Gone:

Center Angelo Mangiro headlines and is the only star on this list of departed linemen. For better or worse Penn State's front five is young and that means not a lot of change and turnover in the immediate future for this unit. Maybe not the perfect situation, but in theory this group should get better together, the question now being if it can get better fast enough.

Who's Still Here:

With nearly everyone returning Penn State could trot out an offensive front not much different than the one it had in 2015. Brian Gaia returns this season but now at center, and Paris Palmer, Andrew Nelson, Derek Dowrey and Brendan Mahon return as familiar faces in action. It seems likely that for all his struggles Palmer will return at his spot at one of the tackle positions with Gaia at center. Nelson will reprise a starting role as maybe Penn State's best linemen and Mahon and Dowrey could battle it out opposite whatever side Palmer work on.

What To Watch For:

The obviously question for Penn State's front is how younger faces are worked into the mix. The 2015-16 line was largely the product of the most able bodies at the time taking the field. With a two-deep roster slowly forming behind last year's starters the likes of Sterling Jenkins, Connor McGovern and more can start to push for playing time. What will be interesting to see at the Blue White game is how many different combinations are trotted out on to the field. Penn State will have to find a balance between getting a unit operating on the same page, and figuring out how long it can afford to experiment with different lineups. 

The Short Version:

Simply put, this group is still a work in progress there is more talent and more experience, but it's hard to know right now how much a new offensive line coach and a new offensive scheme will help push this unit to where it needs to be. Chances are things will look better in 2016 than they did the year prior, but there ought to be a few bumps in the road still. If Paris Palmer can find himself early and often, that will go a long way towards keeping a new quarterback from the Christian Hackenberg experience.

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