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July 1, 2014

Column: Roster release proves sobering

Penn State Sports Information released an official roster for the football program Tuesday afternoon, dated July 1, 2014.

Truly, it is remarkable.

Including walk-ons, the official roster numbers 121 players, 75 of whom will count as scholarship players during the 2014 season. Of those 121 players, the breakdown of eligibility is remarkable for what it reveals about Penn State's collective experience on this level of college football.

Including walk-ons, here is the breakdown:

Seniors - 11
Juniors - 22
Sophomores - 30
Freshmen - 58


Certainly, that big number at the bottom should be cause for pause among Penn State fans, coaches, media, and frankly, anybody else paying attention at this point, as should the number at the top, in equal proportion.

Starting with the seniors, to have just 11 total players entering their final seasons of eligibility is almost unbelievable. Forgetting walk-ons for a moment, of the 19 scholarship commitments that arrived in 2010, only six will have seen their careers as Nittany Lions run their full eligibility. (Daquan Jones last year, and Brad Bars, Miles Dieffenbach, Mike Hull, C.J. Olaniyan and Zach Zwinak this year)

Meanwhile, scanning the list of true and redshirt freshmen that make up almost 50 percent of Penn State's roster, the revelation applies to both scholarship and walk-on players.

Frankly, understanding that Penn State could only bring in a maximum of 17 scholarship players for its class of 2013, even then, only 13 of those players remain at Penn State, of which only seven played last year. Combined with Penn State's class of 24 true incoming freshmen (Tarow Barney arriving with junior eligibility) that leaves a remarkable 57 scholarship and walk-on players that haven't played a snap of live college football.

Throw in the 30 combined scholarship and walk-on players that have played just one season of college football, that makes a remarkable 72 percent of the entire roster that has been on Penn State's campus for no more than two calendar years.

What does it mean for this season?

For starters, it should provide some important perspective, regardless of which way Penn State's games go in the win-loss column. With just 19 combined scholarship juniors and seniors healthy and available for the upcoming season, Penn State's roster will act as a true test of how overall team youth - or, conversely, the lack of overall team experience - can affect a team.


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