Six PSU starting spots still up for grabs


Penn State released its Week 1 depth chart Monday, and six starting spots remain up for grabs.

A closer look at each battle:

Right tackle: Mike Farrell vs. Adam Gress

Synopsis: Gress was named starter in the spring, but Farrell's had a solid camp and has pushed for playing time. The two have rotated with the first team, both at left tackle and right tackle. But, with LT Donovan Smith's recovery from a hamstring injury, it appears as if these two will now strictly practice on the right side.

Gress is a junior, but it looks as if he'll graduate in December. So, for both players, this could be their final season to start. They both have game experience as backups and they're both physically similar (both 6-foot-6, just 5 pounds apart), so Penn State really can't make a bad decision here.

Wide receiver: Shawney Kersey vs. Trevor Williams

Synopsis: Really a surprise to see a true freshman challenge the most experienced wideout for playing time, but that likely has to do with Kersey's limited practices. Kersey has been nursing an ankle injury and, if he's ready to go, should start Saturday.

Bill O'Brien has praised Williams this preseason camp and must think highly of him if he's willing to start the freshman over Matt Zanellato and Christian Kuntz.

Slot receiver: Alex Kenney vs. Evan Lewis

Synopsis: Lewis has had quite a wild ride. He played quarterback in high school and cornerback at Penn State before being moved to wideout, kicker and now back to wideout. He's a little short -- 5-foot-9 depending on which roster you're looking at -- but he's shown good hands in practice. Kenney has terrific speed and split time evenly with Lewis in the preseason.

Both will likely play Saturday. This is definitely a battle to watch.

Defensive end: Deion Barnes vs. Pete Massaro

Synopsis: Massaro would definitely be the starter here if he wasn't plagued by injuries. He tore the ACL in his right knee in 2009, tore the ACL in his left knee in 2011, and is still trying overcome the lingering effects.

Massaro missed some practice last week, and Barnes is talented enough to step right up. Massaro's the better defensive end when he's at 100 percent, but can Massaro get to 100 percent this year?

Defensive tackle: DaQuan Jones vs. James Terry

Synopsis: At 324 pounds, Jones is the biggest player Penn State has to offer. He was listed as the starter in the spring, and Terry's name wasn't mentioned much during preseason camp. So this battle definitely came as a surprise.

Both played about the same amount last season -- Terry played in 231 snaps, and Jones in 247. No matter who starts, defensive line remains a strength for the Nittany Lions.

Safety: Stephen Obeng-Agyapong vs. Jake Fagnano

Synopsis: Fagnano has been limited because of a lingering hamstring injury. O'Brien toyed with the idea of moving Adrian Amos to safety if Fagnano couldn't play Saturday, but players said Obeng-Agyapong impressed in practice -- and he appears to have at least locked down that backup role.

Fagnano said earlier this month he expected to start but, then again, he probably didn't expect to stand on the sidelines this much. If Fagnano can have a good week of practice, he'll start. If he can't, Obeng-Agyapong's not a bad Plan B.