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PSU Power Rankings: A-Rob at No. 1

9/3/2012

Welcome to Week 1 of NittanyNation's power rankings, a top-10 list designed to show you which Penn State players are surpassing expectations and who to keep an eye on.

For this week, the season-opener wasn't a pretty one -- but several players still made a mark. We'll tell you whose stock is moving up every week and who's been raising their game. Whose performance left the biggest impression, and whose contributions were the most surprising?

NittanyNation has it covered. Here's this week's top-10 list:

1. WR Allen Robinson

We can't say enough about this sophomore, who was Rob Bolden's high school teammate in Orchard Lake, Mich. If there's one player who proved Saturday he's going to have a bright Penn State career, it was Robinson. He shaked some defenders, showed sure hands and was unstoppable in the first quarter. He caught nine balls Saturday -- the most since third-round NFL draft pick Derrick Williams had 10 against Purdue in 2007.

2. LB Nyeem Wartman

This true freshman flashed his ability despite seeing mostly special teams. Late in the first half, the linebacker blocked a punt that led to a Penn State touchdown. Had the Nittany Lions won here, that would have been the turning point of the game. We don't know the last time a true freshman blocked a kick in his first-ever game, but we're pretty sure it doesn't happen often. Wartman's performance bodes well here for the future of Linebacker U.

3. TE Kyle Carter

Can we start the Andrew Quarless comparisons already? This redshirt freshman is for real, and it's mind-boggling to think fans will see three more years of him. In his first career game, he caught more balls than any tight end since -- who else? -- Quarless in the 2010 Capital One Bowl. Carter sometimes lined up as a wide receiver and finished second on the team in receptions. He hauled in six catches for 74 yards.

4. QB Matt McGloin

Say what you will about the offense's second-half struggles, but McGloin played well Saturday. He was asked to do a little of everything, remained calm and didn't try to force the ball too often. His interception came late in the game when he was forced to press but, overall, McGloin looks much improved from last season. He didn't stare at one receiver and mostly made quick decisions. He overthrew his wideouts by a step or two on the longer passes and could be dangerous if he brings that under control.

5. LB Michael Mauti

He showed he was the leader of this defense when he gathered players up in the third quarter and addressed them about their performance. He led the team with a dozen tackles. Most stops came several yards away from the line of scrimmage, but it would've been a lot worse had a linebacker other than Mauti been in there.

6. LB Gerald Hodges

OK, so maybe returning kicks isn't the linebacker's speciality. Still, he finished with 11 tackles despite missing a chunk of time on the field because of a leg injury. This wasn't Hodges' most memorable game, but he's arguably the best backer in the Big Ten and should be fine next week.

7. C Matt Stankiewitch

The lone regular returning offensive starter anchored a line that had some struggles Saturday, but Stankiewitch played fairly well. The center admitted he made some mistakes, but Ohio's interior defense was silenced most of the game. Three of Ohio's defensive tackles finished with a combined one solo tackle.

8. RB Derek Day

He didn't exactly wow fans Saturday, but he protected the ball and surpassed meager expectations. He rushed for 36 yards -- he gained 27 yards all of last season -- and had a team-high 4.5 yards-per-carry. He showed some toughness, too, when an Ohio defender knocked his helmet off and caused a large gash atop his head. He still made it back to the game and remained somewhat effective. "They don't hit hard," Day told his teammates on the sideline, according to ESPN.

9. DE Deion Barnes

He received a lot of playing time because of Pete Massaro's nagging injuries and came away with the team's only sack. Actually, it was the defense's only tackle-for-loss. Pass-rushing is Barnes' specialty, but it was difficult for him to reach a quarterback who preferred quick passes from the pistol. Still, the season's first sack should be the start of a solid season for Barnes.

10. CB Da'Quan Davis

He had a costly illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty, but he also broke up a touchdown pass while filling in for injured cornerback Stephon Morris. Morris was burned for a long pass play, but Davis held his own for the most part. For a true freshman, Davis played relatively well -- even if the secondary played poorly as a unit.