Penn St looks for latest replacement at receiver

Associated Press Modified: September 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm •  Published: September 12, 2012
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Nearly three weeks into the season, Penn State's new-look offense is still seeking an identity at key positions.

And that's on top of the turnover the Nittany Lions endured before the season even kicked off.

Indeed, injuries could leave Penn State (0-2) without its starting left tackle and top two running backs when Navy (0-1) visits Beaver Stadium this weekend. And starting receiver Shawney Kersey won't be pulling on a blue and white uniform, either, after leaving the Nittany Lions this week for personal reasons. A team spokesman said Wednesday that Kersey remains enrolled in school.

A revamped offense already lacking in experience at the skill positions besides senior quarterback Matt McGloin may have to rely on more young players to fill the latest void.

One of new coach Bill O'Brien's favorite phrases, "Next man up," resonated again with his players Wednesday.

"It was definitely a surprise for me, but at the same time we can't focus on what people decided to do," McGloin said about Kersey's departure. "We have to focus on people who are here now ... There's no doubt that one of our other wideouts will step up and do a great job."

That was supposed to be Kersey's goal this year.

He does have a checkered past, though, and problems may have surfaced again. Last season, Nittany Lions interim coach Tom Bradley also cited "personal reasons" for leaving Kersey home from the 30-14 loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl. But Kersey worked his way into the receiving rotation in an offense revamped by O'Brien this summer, and it appeared like he was a fit.

His new role, of course, came in part due to necessity. After all, Justin Brown's departure to Oklahoma — after he took advantage of an NCAA exception for an immediate transfer in light of the strict sanctions on the program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal — created a void.

The turnover at receiver also included the graduation of Derek Moye and the departure of Devon Smith for off-field reasons. He has since transferred to Marshall.

Kersey had just five catches all of 2011 — but that still left him as the team's leading returning receiver given all the other exits.

Sophomore Allen Robinson has stepped in nicely as a featured target for McGloin with 19 catches, 186 yards and a touchdown. And redshirt freshman Kyle Carter has taken advantage of O'Brien's tight end-friendly schemes with 10 catches, 107 yards and a score.

Kersey's departure could put more pressure on speedy sophomore Alex Kenney (five catches, 71 yards) to emerge as a playmaker. McGloin also said seldom-used junior Brandon Moseby-Felder could replace Kersey in the lineup. Freshmen Trevor Williams and Eugene Lewis have also impressed O'Brien at points in recent weeks.

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