With 22 wins over the last two seasons, it was only a matter of time before the Nittany Lions were faced with some roster turnover. Key contributors like Saquon Barkley, DaeSean Hamilton, Mike Gesicki, Marcus Allen, and Grant Haley, just to name a few, have moved on and are now earning a paycheck in the NFL.
With so many key players from the last two years no loner on the roster, our staff has a pretty clear idea of where Penn State will turn in 2018.
Craig Fritz - Trace McSorley. The season is on his arm.
Dan Smith - Trace McSorley. This is his show now, and how he performs in his finale as Penn State's starter will be the main determining factor in how far the Nittany Lions can go.
Bill DiFilippo - Trace McSorley. The defense will need some time to find a groove. Even when it does, McSorley is a Heisman contender for a reason. He's very good.
Nick Polak - Trace McSorley. Penn State's 2018 Heisman candidate is clearly the most important player on the team (he was last year, too). The Nittany Lions live and die with "The Wizard," and it will be no different in 2018. Even if he only replicates last season, Penn State will be in excellent shape. If he takes another step forward, this team will be a playoff contender.
John Morgan - Juwan Johnson. Johnson takes over as Trace McSorley's primary receiver. With the departure of DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki, Johnson taking that next step is essential.
Kevin Fay - Trace McSorley. As good as Tommy Stevens may wind up being, Trace is far and away the most important player on the team.
Joe McIntyre - Trace McSorley. If Trace is the Heisman Trophy candidate many think he is, this team can be one of the four teams in the playoff. Whether the defense can do enough to make that possible remains to be seen.
Kaitlyn Dividock - Trace. Because of course it's Trace. McSorley has the sweet stench of Heisman candidacy all over him, and any tiny mistakes could not only build up and ruin that MVP bid, but also hurt Penn State in a big way. He's a winner, and he has to stay a winner this whole season. Shouldn't be a problem for Mr. "All the Marbles."
Dan Vecellio - Micah Parsons. It might be weird to consider a freshman the most important player on the team, but if he can shore up the middle of the defense and be a playmaker from Day 1, it will go far in allowing the rest of the middle of the defense to develop.
Matt de Bear - There might be players who have big shoes to fill, or be stepping into a key position, but no one is more important to Penn State's success in 2018 than Trace McSorley. He's a fifth-year senior, three-year starter, record book re-writer, and the straw that will stir the Nittany Lions' drink this fall. As goes McSorley, so goes this team.