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Redshirt picture coming into focus

9/10/2012
Lee Coleman/Icon SMI

The season is only two weeks old, but the redshirt picture is already becoming a little clearer.

Four true freshmen are listed on the depth chart but haven't seen any time on the field. Six freshmen have already burned their redshirts. And three are still in limbo.

NittanyNation takes a closer look at the impact the true freshmen have had so far and what to expect going forward:

ON THE FIELD: Players who have already burned their redshirts

QB Steven Bench, 6-2, 204

Role: Backup quarterback

Bench has shown a good arm and good touch in practice, and he's been more consistent than redshirt sophomore Paul Jones, who started the season as the No. 2. Bench's climb up the depth chart has been one of the bigger surprises in this early season, and he'll challenge for the top spot next year. If Matt McGloin goes down again or PSU's up big, expect Bench to see some time.

WR Trevor Williams, 6-1, 186

Role: Situational player on the rise

Williams already has the ear of the coaching staff. He hasn't seen a lot of time yet, but if Shawney Kersey struggles, O'Brien won't hesitate to slide Williams into the starting role. According to the depth chart, Kersey still hasn't locked up the outside wideout spot opposite Allen Robinson.

TE Jesse James, 6-7, 264

Role: Situational player

He's seen a handful of plays, but Matt Lehman seems to be the top backup at tight end. James will see more time as the season progresses and will battle for the top spot next year as the y-tight end.

LB Nyeem Wartman, 6-1, 236

Role: Backup/special teams

He made an immediate impact by blocking a punt in Week 1, and he's currently behind Glenn Carson at middle linebacker. At worst, he should be the No. 4 LB next season and should see more on the field later this season.

CB Da'Quan Davis, 5-10, 161

Role: Backup

He broke up a touchdown pass in his first career game, and he'll fill in for Stephon Morris if Morris' ankle injury flares up again. Davis is in line to replace Morris after graduation, and it would be a surprise if O'Brien didn't use him more as the season progressed.

CB/S Jordan Lucas, 6-0, 188

Role: Situational player

He traveled with Virginia and saw limited time the first two weeks. The secondary's shallow and if an injury strikes, he could be next in line after Davis. He's earned a lot of praise from O'Brien, and he should start by his junior season at the latest.

LIMBO: Players who traveled to Virginia but haven't yet seen playing time

RB Akeel Lynch, 6-0, 209

According to the depth chart, he's battling for the No. 2 spot. But, after the Virginia game, it's clear Bill O'Brien would prefer to redshirt him. That makes sense, especially with starting tailback Bill Belton being just a sophomore. A redshirt would presumably give Lynch two years at position of premier back -- as long as he decides to stay.

WR Eugene Lewis, 6-1, 199

Like Lynch, Lewis is listed as the second- or third-string wideout behind Allen Robinson. He's a big talent and the gem of the 2012 class but -- with the bottleneck of underclassman wideouts -- a redshirt here would set up Penn State for the future. Barring injuries, he should redshirt.

DT Austin Johnson, 6-4, 297

If DaQuan Jones or James Terry go down, O'Brien will likely choose to utilize the first-year player. Otherwise, Johnson will redshirt. He traveled to Virginia but didn't see any time. Four defensive tackles played Saturday -- and only five DTs are listed on the depth chart.

HIGHLY LIKELY REDSHIRTS: Players listed on the depth chart but who likely won't see time

WR Malik Golden, 6-1, 182

He's the No. 3 slot receiver but didn't travel to Virginia. He'll redshirt this year and will have to work hard to back up Alex Kenney next season. Playing time isn't a guarantee with so many wideouts.

WR Jonathan Warner, 6-1, 198

He's on the depth chart, but he's third- or fourth-string at this point. He needs some more seasoning and should battle Golden in the future for playing time.

TE Brent Wilkerson, 6-3, 239

Five other tight ends have seen time this season, and Wilkerson hasn't been one of them. Unless O'Brien starts going with four tight-end sets, Wilkerson will return next season as a redshirt freshman and will challenge to become a situational player.

C Wendy Laurent, 6-2, 278

O'Brien's been subbing a lot of offensive linemen into the game, but Laurent hasn't been one of them. He's a little light at 278 pounds and is currently listed as the third-string center. There's some depth -- albeit inexperienced depth -- on the OL this year, so don't expect Laurent to see any time yet.

DEFINITE REDSHIRTS: Players who aren't listed on the depth chart and haven't played

Derek Dowrey, Brian Gaia, Jake Kiley, Evan Schwan, Anthony Stanko, Brennan Franklin, Gary Wooten