Although redshirt freshman Brendan Mahon isn't currently projected as a season-opening starter, he is still one of the most crucial pieces of Penn State's developing offensive line.
A utility man of sorts, Mahon can play multiple positions. While it's unlikely he'll see snaps at center - he has the ability - he will likely be the first substitute in at a few different spots, specifically either guard or right tackle.
"I played mostly right guard last year, so that's my main position, but now I went to right tackle during the spring," said Mahon, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds on the team's latest roster. "Going into camp and being able to play everything and be versatile, it helps out the team the most."
Offensive line coach Herb Hand loves versatility in his offensive linemen, and since Mahon has worked at both guard and tackle, it helps bolster a position unit that is currently comprised of only 11 healthy scholarship players, four of which are true freshmen.
For the entire group, it's an all-hands-on-deck mentality. Be familiar with as many positions as possible, because you'll never know when you'll be called on, or for which position.
Entering preseason, Mahon embraced the idea. He understands there will be difficulties, but remains optimistic. In fact, he believes much of the ado surrounding the offensive line is a tad overblown.
"It's a challenge for all of us," said Mahon, once a four-star recruit. "But if you're going to doubt us, we're going to come out and prove you wrong. So hopefully people will stand behind us, and we come out and show everyone what we're made of."
Mahon added that Hand's coaching methods and beliefs help the squad mentally prepare to handle it. Prove everyone wrong, he tells them, because there are plenty of doubters.
"There are two levels of expectation," Hand said. "You have our current situation, where people may say it's a question mark. And then you may have the flip side, where let's say you have a lot of experience coming back, a great unit, and people don't have a question mark; they have an exclamation point. Either way, you've got something to prove, and that's how we want to approach every day, that we have something to prove.
"And we do. We have a lot to prove right now. Eventually, this will transition into the other side [when the line has a lot of depth]. It's a process to go from being a question mark to an exclamation point. But even when you're on the expectation end of the bell curve, you've still got something to prove -- you've got to prove people right.
"Right now, we have to prove people wrong."
And whether he's playing guard or tackle, Mahon wants to be one who is leading the way.