Penn State Nittany Lions: NittanyNation mailbag

Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Jim Murphy writes: How will Brad Bars' injury impact depth for the Lions this season? Was he poised for significant playing time?

Josh Moyer: He had high expectations back in February. I last talked to a smiling Bars during Thon weekend, when he volunteered to show host families around the football building. He said this at the time: "I feel like this is the season I'm going to take my game to another level. My expectations have risen a lot. ... I expect to be a key player on the team this year."

NittanyNation: Week in review

June, 24, 2013
6/24/13
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NittanyNation takes a look at this past week's Penn State football and recruiting news and what you might have missed:
Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Clay Sauertieg (@CSauertiegPSU) writes: With Michael O'Connor and Troy Vincent likely making 12 commits, are Montae Nicholson, Alex Bookser and Dravon Henry the priorities?


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Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Brian Santoro (@santoro_brian) writes: In your opinion, does Christian Hackenberg start this year?


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Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in depth this week.

Corey Hunter (@realhuntdog23) writes: What REALISTIC expectations should fans have at the Blue-White Game? Isn't Bill O'Brien likely to keep things (plays/personnel) close to the vest?

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Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Corey McDonnell (@Team_McDonnell) writes: Which two running backs will get the most carries in 2013?


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Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Robert Passaro writes in an email: Everyone seems to be anointing Christian Hackenberg as the starter if not this year then next. What happens if Steven Bench really shows he can manage this offense this year and leads us to an 8-4 record or better?


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Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions this week, and we've selected three to answer in-depth -- starting with the question we received most.

Alex Williams writes in an email: Any idea who will commit next in this class? And who are the biggest names that could commit soon?

Josh Moyer: Well, I think there's a few guys to keep an eye on right now -- mainly two who are kind of on "commitment watch." Defensive tackle Jeremiah Clarke was offered on Thursday and wanted to see Penn State on Saturday. (The coaching staff is on vacation, however, so he'll visit in the near future.) His coach used to play under PSU DL coach Larry Johnson, and he counts Penn State as one of his top three schools. I think there was a good chance he would have committed this weekend if a visit was arranged.

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NittanyNation mailbag: Breakout players 

February, 15, 2013
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Mike HullJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesLinebacker Mike Hull's strength and athleticism make him a great candidate to become a breakout star.


Welcome to NittanyNation's bi-weekly mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions this week, and we've selected three to answer in-depth.

Adam Puzio (@Adam_Puzio) writes: Who do you think will be the biggest breakout players (the Robinson/Carter/Barnes/Amos) of 2013?

Josh Moyer: Well, you gave me four names -- so I'll give you four. Let's get the obvious out of the way first: Linebacker Mike Hull. He had the highest bench press on the team, better than the likes of 324-pound DT DaQuan Jones. He was also so quick that former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley once tried him out at safety. He's not the prototypical size of a linebacker, but he has pretty much everything else going for him. He was a big-play magnet last year, and he could be the next big thing at Linebacker U. In a secondary that's lacking depth, Hull's pass-coverage ability will be extremely important.

As far as the other three, I'm really high on OT Donovan Smith. You saw, early in the season, the impact his absence had on the line. When Adam Gress was in there instead of Smith, it was completely different. Smith has NFL potential, and I think this will be a big breakout year for him. I wouldn't at all be surprised if he made the All-Big Ten first team. The other two players I think are worth watching include wideout Eugene Lewis and defensive tackle Austin Johnson. Lewis, a high school quarterback, is an incredible athlete who just needed a season to learn routes and the playbook. He could slide into the No. 2 WR role this season. He's a playmaker.


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Tyler BoydAP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackTyler Boyd likely would have committed to PSU if there were no sanctions.

Welcome to NittanyNation's bi-weekly mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions this week, and we've selected three to answer in-depth.

William Amesbury (@WAmesbury16) writes: Where do you think the 2013 recruiting class would be without the sanctions?


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NittanyNation Friday mailbag (Dec. 21)

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
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Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet your questions this week, and we've selected three to answer in-depth -- starting with the question we received most.

Jim Murphy (@JimMurphy13) writes: How many of the '6 recruits to keep eyes on' do you think will commit and which ones? What's the likelihood of a Trey Johnson and Garret Dooley visit?

[+] EnlargeMatt McGloin
Bruce Thorson/US PresswirePSU might struggle early in 2013 after losing QB Matt McGloin.
Josh Moyer: Well, with just two scholarships remaining, at least one commit will likely come from that list. All of the big names Penn State's after -- Johnson, Dooley, Tyler Boyd, David Williams -- are long-shots ... but, then again, the Nittany Lions weren't four-star WR DaeSean Hamilton's first choice either. Until he visited.

Penn State's got a lot of options here, and it seems to be following the Bill Belichick line of reasoning with the NFL draft: Forget need for the most part; take the best player available. Ideally, the staff seems as if it would prefer a defensive back. After all, they've visited cornerback Myles Willis (Atlanta, Ga./Marist) twice in the last three weeks and Willis thinks an offer is on the way. Deondre Singleton also remains a viable option. But I couldn't see them turning down, say, a Boyd-Williams combo.

But, as you mentioned, visits at this stage are critical. They won over Hamilton and, apparently, they're pretty convincing on those visits. Johnson will not make an official, though, and he seems to be the biggest long-shot of all. Ohio State's the favorite there. Dooley's still considering a visit -- I'd put that at a coin flip; all depends on how he likes the new staff -- and, although the odds are for him to remain committed to Wisconsin, Penn State instantly becomes the favorite if he chooses to decommit.

Of the four long-shots, I think Penn State has the best chance with Williams or Dooley. It should definitely be an interesting January.

Dan Mealing (@SpiderCat79) writes: Seems like people picked PSU to finish below .500 this year. Didn't happen. Now they say next year should be easier for Bill O'Brien. You?

Josh Moyer: I can see the thinking in that because most of the team remains intact. But I'm sorry to say I disagree with it being easier next season. I predicted a 7-5 record in 2012 and -- at this point -- I think a 6-6 or 7-5 record in 2013 is more likely.

Why do I feel that way? Well, Matt McGloin was the most valuable player to this team. Yes, even more valuable than Michael Mauti. He threw 24 touchdowns to just five interceptions, several of which first deflected off his receivers. He was incredibly efficient, a great leader, and his shoes won't be easy to fill.

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