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Monday, January 7, 2013
Overview of PSU's five early enrollees

By Josh Moyer

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Five Penn State commits started classes today as early enrollees, and NittanyNation takes a closer look at each student ready to start his Penn State career:

TE Adam Breneman, Camp Hill (Pa.) Cedar Cliff
Four stars,  No. 1 at position
Synopsis: The nation's top TE followed in the footsteps of former Cedar Cliff tight end Kyle Brady, committing to Penn State on March 9 (thanks to Bill O'Brien's philosophy on tight ends) and plans to wear Brady's No. 81. He's set big goals for himself, including a Big Ten title and winning the Mackey Award at some point in his career.

Predicted role this season: Coming off a torn ACL, Breneman would be best served to redshirt this season. With Kyle Carter, Matt Lehman and Jesse James all in line for a lot of playing time, Breneman likely wouldn't see the field often if he opted not to redshirt.

Quotables: "I committed because of O'Brien and his NFL experience and playing in front of 108,000 people and the fanbase and that education. And that's still there."

QB Tyler Ferguson, Visalia (Calif.) College of the Sequoias
Three stars
Synopsis: After Penn State's top option, Jake Waters, surprised the staff by changing his mind and choosing Kansas State, the Nittany Lions went after Ferguson -- who had just committed to Houston. Ferguson quickly reversed course, and the junior college player opted to play for PSU, a place where he stood a better shot at playing time.

Predicted role this season: He'll compete with Steven Bench for the starting job. His ability to pick up on the playbook and read defenses will be the deciding factor in how much playing time he sees. The most likely outcome here is probably as Bench's backup, but he still has a good shot at the starting job.

Quotables: "I felt amazingly comfortable with [Charlie Fisher]. And I really want to play for him."

CB Jordan Smith, Washington (D.C.) H.D. Woodson
Three stars, No. 58 at position
Synopsis: He was the first player to commit after the sanctions, and he called Penn State his dream school. Smith boasts an incredible work ethic and, during bouts of insomnia he starts doing push-ups -- sometimes until his alarm rings. (He estimates the count at about 2,000.)

Predicted role this season: Smith could be a surprise in the secondary this season, but his most likely role is as a cornerback who sees situational playing time. He could could be a nickelback and will be a welcome addition, who could push Da'Quan Davis to better himself.

Quotables: "It's just that I want to play so bad. I'm always thinking about Penn State."

RB Richy Anderson, Frederick (Md.) Gov. Thomas Johnson
Three stars, No. 52 at position
Synopsis: The son of former PSU fullback Richie Anderson decided to decommit from Maryland shortly after making an official visit to PSU in late October. He always wanted to play for PSU, and he committed to the Terps before receiving a PSU scholarship. He's a flexible player who could see time in the slot or in the backfield.

Predicted role this season: He's definitely a strong redshirt candidate. But, if he does see time, it likely won't be in a crowded backfield. PSU needs an athlete or two in the slot and if other players aren't cutting it, he could find himself in position for some playing time.

Quotables: "The sanctions don't matter to me. Being in that environment, it just proves it. No, you can't play in a bowl game. And, no, they lost a lot of scholarships -- but the tradition and everything is still there. It's not just about football."

CB Anthony Smith, Wayne (Pa.) Valley Forge Military
Two stars
Synopsis: Smith didn't earn another FBS offer, so it was a pretty easy decision for him to commit. He earned a scholarship offer Dec. 8 and committed Dec. 9. PSU needed to add more depth in the secondary, and Smith's ability to enroll early definitely made him a more attractive candidate.

Predicted role this season: He'll be given every opportunity to move up on the depth chart but he still needs some polish, so he might need another year before he sees playing time. He's likely a special teams player or redshirt candidate. If he does redshirt, he'll be a strong addition to the scout team and will likely mirror any dual-threat QBs that PSU faces. He played QB at Valley Forge after the starter went down Week 1.

Quotables: "My goal coming in is to play. That's my main goal. Coach O'Brien basically said they need a cornerback, and we definitely have some competition at that position, so we'll see how things go."