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NCAA Football Penn State Nittany Lions

7 Penn State Nittany Lions Freshmen Who Played Key Roles in 2013

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Penn State Nittany Lions Freshmen Who Played Key Roles

Seven Penn State Nittany Lions Freshman played Key roles in 2013
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach Bill O’Brien and his Penn State Nittany Lions had a 2013 football season that was well worth the price of admission. The Nittany Lions had key contributors returning and some new faces poised to make their mark on the program at State College.

Penn State fans had much to be excited for heading into their season opener against Syracuse this season. O’Brien was returning from an 8-4 season in his first year as head coach of the Nittany Lions and was, of course, the reigning coach of the year in the Big Ten.

Returning alongside O’Brien was the team’s top receiver from a year ago, Allen Robinson. Robinson's return and O’Brien’s amazing rookie season were somewhat overshadowed by a new big man on campus. That big man was a five-star recruit at quarterback. Christian Hackenberg would be joining the team in 2013 in hopes of making an immediate impact on the program in Happy Valley.

At the culmination of the 2013 season one may have assumed that the Nittany Lions had regressed from a year ago as their record at the completion of O’Brien’s second season and Hackenberg’s first season now stands at 7-5.

Regression may be an excessive and impulsive word to use when one takes a closer look at how the team played in 2013. Under O’Brien’s guidance along with quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher, Hackenberg was named Big Ten freshman of the year. Hackenberg was not the lone contributing freshman on this squad.

Here is a look at some of the young men who played contributing roles in 2013 and will be relied upon in the near future.

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Christian Hackenberg, QB

Christian Hackenberg QB
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Hackenberg had a sensational first season as Penn State’s signal caller. If he keeps on pace with what he has already done, he will be writing his name in the history books in Happy Valley.

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Akeel Lynch, RB

Akeel Lynch RB
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Akeel Lynch has many important roles to fill. It may be easy to assume that he will be playing second chair in the offense behind Hackenberg. But throughout their careers at Penn State their success will be closely correlated as Lynch and his fellow running backs will need to find positive rushing yards to keep defenses honest.

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Austin Johnson, OL

Austin Johnson OL
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson has a very important role in the Nittany Lion offense. That is to keep Hackenberg off of his back. May sound simple, but defenses around the Big Ten will be scheming to get after the big pocket passer at Penn State.

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Brandon Bell, LB

Brandon Bell LB
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Bell had a productive season at Linebacker U. He should be a key contributor to the team for years to come.

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Nyeem Wartman, LB

Nyeem Wartman LB
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Another student of Linebacker U. Wartmen and Bell should work very well alongside one another. If they do, they should have very productive careers at Penn State.

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Adam Breneman, TE

Adam Breneman TE
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A tight end can often times be a quarterback's best friend. Breneman has good size and hands and makes for an excellent safety valve for Hackenberg.

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Geno Lewis, WR

Geno Lewis WR
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Geno Lewis will have big shoes to fill in the future as Hackenberg will be eventually be looking for a go-to receiver to replace Allen Robinson. Robinson will go down as one of the greatest of all time at his position at Penn State. He will be a tough act to follow, but hopefully Lewis and Hackenberg can establish a good relationship.