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Penn State Football: State College Native Alex Kenney in Line for Starting WR Spot Heading into Fall Camp

by on July 17, 2012 6:00 AM

Alex Kenney knows the importance of this upcoming training camp.

The State College native and redshirt sophomore wide receiver is trying to solidify a regular spot in Penn State’s rotation, most likely in the slot position.

He was well on his way toward making a favorable impression on first-year coach Bill O’Brien before a minor right knee injury cut short his spring season and required surgery to remove cysts.

Kenney said Friday he is back at 100 percent, ready to resume his quest to prove he can be an every down wide receiver at the college level.

“Unfortunately my spring was cut a little short, but I think I was able to make enough plays to be in the conversation for getting some playing time,” Kenney said at the annual Lift for Life charity event, which raised more than $110,000 to fight kidney cancer, a record high for the 10-year-old cause.

“But I feel like I have to solidify a spot. This summer, this camp is very big for me. This is really my opportunity.”

There are practice reps and game snaps to be had with the loss of senior Devon Smith, who left the team for personal reasons earlier this summer.

Kenney’s 6-foot, 193-pound frame seems to be one upgrade over Smith, who was one of the team’s smallest players, listed at 5-foot-7, 147 pounds. Both possess blazing speed having been track and field stars in high school. Kenney took home a silver medal in the state 100-meter dash as a senior, finishing with a time of 10.74 seconds, according to PIAA track results.

He also rarely left the field under State College coach Al Wolski, playing defensive back and returning kicks. He was a big reason why the Little Lions advanced to the PIAA Class 4A state championship game in 2009.

Kenney could be a candidate to return kicks in the fall, too. Camp, which starts Aug. 6, will ultimately dictate that.

One thing Kenney knows for sure, however, is that he will line up on offense despite depth concerns in the secondary after Curtis Drake and Derrick Thomas left the team.

“Coach O’Brien has made it very clear to me that I’m gonna stay on offense,” Kenney said. “I’ve been moving back and forth my whole career at Penn State.

“Every day I’m just thankful I know my position and I can stick with it and I can master my craft rather than worry about whether or not I’m gonna be playing offense or defense.”

That was a problem for one of Kenney’s old teammates and mentors, Chaz Powell, who has since graduated and is trying to latch on with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.

Now they look like each other, too, with their tatted up chests and long hair growing up rather than down, which makes the comparison more obvious.

Kenney was waiting for the question about the similarities in appearance.

“I know someone’s gonna ask me that,” Kenney said, “but Chaz is a mentor of mine.”

He’s now hoping to follow Powell and see significant playing time, as well.

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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