The Penn State Nittany Lions implemented a new NFL-style passing attack last season under head coach Bill O’Brien. Part of that included using the tight end as a pass-catching weapon in the offense. Three of the Nittany Lion’s top five receivers last season were tight ends. This year, freshman tight end Brent Wilkerson will quickly make an impact in the Penn State offense.
The Nittany Lions return all three top tight ends from 2012. Kyle Carter, Matt Lehman and Jesse James will all once again be dangerous weapons. Although the depth chart is already loaded at tight end, Wilkerson has the talent to win significant playing time.
Coming out of high school, Wilkerson was a three-star recruit who received offers from a number of other big programs. He chose to sign with the Nittany Lions and was given a redshirt last year. Wilkerson is an athletic player with a quick first step. He’s also shown good hands throughout practice and performed well in the annual Blue-White Game, catching a six-yard touchdown pass.
As shown last year, the Penn State offense has an ability to spread the ball around, especially to the tight ends. Penn State ranked second in the nation with 82 receptions by tight ends. Look for that trend to continue this year, especially with Wilkerson added to the mix.
The redshirt freshman will play an important part in the offense, especially with a new quarterback under center. Passes to tight ends are often shorter and easier to make. For that reason, look for the tight end to be used early and often at Penn State again this year.
Aside from providing a solid target for his quarterback, Wilkerson should get plenty of opportunities, as most defenses will be concerned with top wide receiver Allen Robinson. Fellow tight end Carter, who had 453 yards last year, will also draw the attention of the defense.
When looking at the depth chart, it’s easy to see that the Nittany Lions are loaded on offense this season with both running back and receivers. That situation will make it very hard for opposing defenses. Wilkerson will quickly be inserted into the offense, and his pass-catching ability will make a major impact this season.