With the announcement today of the post-spring 2013 depth chart for the Penn State Nittany Lions , it shouldn’t come as a surprise to most that the majority of the attention was plastered all over the quarterback situation, and rightfully so. The upcoming battle between QBs Tyler Ferguson and incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg will be a joy to watch. With the commitment this week of 2014 QB Michael O’Connor, I even went so far as to make the comment that the nickname of the University could soon see a change from the traditional ‘Linebacker U’ to ‘Quarterback U.’
But, as it stands right now, there has been no evidence proven on the field yet to warrant such a transition. Penn State is still best known for traditionally producing the best linebacker talent the nation has to offer. And this season, with the departures of Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, it’s time to look to the next standout product.
This year, that accolade may go to redshirt freshman, Nyeem Wartman.
In 2012, it seemed as if Wartman was ready to make a statement right off the bat. In the opening game against the Ohio Bobcats, the LB showed flashes of his potential. Recording a tackle and adding in a blocked punt, he was making his presence felt and had State College, Pa. fans talking.
Unfortunately, a knee injury the very next week against the Virginia Cavaliers would end that talk, and fans would have to wait to see what the Valley View High School product could truly bring to the table in Happy Valley.
Well, the wait is over. And, if that depth chart is any indication, we’re going to get that chance to see what Wartman can do.
Listed at the top of one of the OLB positions in the 4-3 scheme, it appears that Wartman will be joining veterans Glenn Carson and Mike Hull in backing up the defensive line.
It’s certainly a good position for the young man to be in. Should he see the field as a starter as indicated, development for him is crucial. Hull and Carson have had their share of playing time and can mentor Wartman as he gradually comes into his own as a player on the field. And, for someone with his attributes and natural athletic talent, that shouldn’t take that long.
At 6-1 and 240-pounds, Wartman certainly has the frame of a prototypical, punishing Penn State linebacker. His straight-line speed should provide nightmares in the backfield for opposing Big Ten quarterbacks and running backs. A player with the combination of those characteristics, with ample time to develop them, is a scary thought.
Come September, all eyes may indeed be on whomever is under center for the Nittany Lions. But, as for how long–Wartman’s play on the field may have a say in that.