With the start of spring practice less than a week away, we'll soon get an idea of what the 2018 Nittany Lions will look like. With a lot of questions, and key spots to fill, we took a look at some of the biggest stories to keep an eye on throughout the spring.
Rahne takes the reigns
We got a sneak peek of what Ricky Rahne's offense will look in the Fiesta Bowl to the tune of a school-bowl record 545 yards and 35 points. Now that he has an entire spring to focus on just his plays, we could see a lot of new sets and formations. He's already said that the offense will not go under center and not have a fullback so the base look should at least look familiar.
Thankfully Rahne has been on the staff for years so guys already know his coaching style. He can focus on adding his plays and making the offense his own throughout spring ball and heading into the summer.
Replacing the Irreplaceable
Saquon Barkley was the best running back and maybe the best player to ever come through Penn State. The running back room now has to find a way to fill all that production. Miles Sanders has seen plenty of action during his two years in Happy Valley, but outside of that there really isn't much to go on.
With Andre Robinson's transfer, the most experienced of the probable backup would be Mark Allen. A fifth-year senior, Allen appeared in just four games last season and had nine carries. Johnathan Thomas has bounced between running back and linebacker throughout his career and hasn't had a carry since 2015. With five-star signee Ricky Slade not getting to campus until June, redshirt freshman Journey Brown has a great opportunity to work his way up the depth chart and into some solid playing time.
Nearly a year since a knee injury in spring practice cost him the 2017 season, John Reid will be back out on the practice field next week. Reid was Penn State's best corner heading into last season, and with Grant Haley and Christian Campbell gone, he'll need to return to form to keep the Penn State secondary elite. His knee looked pretty good during a recent weightlifting session, so expect Reid to pick up right where he left off.
Reid has said that the injury has allowed him to see the game a new way and for a guy that is notorious for watching film, that's a scary thought. Penn State has a young corner room so Reid's biggest asset will be his ability to lead by example on and off the field.
Offensive Line merry-go-round
Penn State has the rare luxury of returning four of it's five starting offensive linemen from a year ago. Injuries hit the group relatively hard last year, moving guys from left side to right side, and from tackle to guard.
Connor McGovern appears to the only player locked in at center. Ryan Bates played left tackle for most of last season but has played guard in the past. Will Fries started games at both guard and tackle as a redshirt freshman last year. Steven Gonzalez figures to have a hold on one of the guard spots, but guys like Mike Miranda, Michal Menet, and C.J. Thorpe are right on his tail.
Penn State has a lot of talent along the line so expect a lot of different combinations as Matt Limegrover starts to get an idea of who he will send out for the first series come September.
Micah's move to linebacker
It's safe to say that Micah Parsons is going into the spring with more hype and expectations than any other freshman in the Big Ten. Parsons was a defensive end in high school and he was pretty dang good at that, but Penn State has tons of talent at that position, so Brent Pry will try him at middle linebacker.
Parsons is an absolute freak of an athlete. He ran for over 1,200 yards and 27 touchdowns as a running back his senior year and also played high school basketball. So physically, Parsons will be fine. He'll need to focus on learning how to play the linebacker position at this level throughout the spring. It should be fun to watch him learn the in and outs of playing linebacker at this level and to see how he handles the responsibility of calling the defense.