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Position Preview: Running backs

The strength of Penn State in 2011 will be the running game. At least I think it will be.

Sure, the program loses the all-time leading rusher but who cares when you have a budding star in line to take his place? And sure, the depth took a hit with the unfortunate demise of Stephfon Green. But so what? Silas Redd is back!

As excited as Penn State fans should be about seeing Redd develop in to the next great running back let’s also remember he is just a sophomore so he may still have some growing pains to play through in 2011. Fans will probably be fine with that.

Here is our look at the running back position, with some full back talk mixed in as well for good measure.

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Projected Starting Running Back for 2011

Silas Redd | SO | 5′ 10″ | 209 lbs

Strength: Strong, versatile

Weakness: Young

By most accounts, Silas Redd is a stud running back. He has yet to receive the national attention by those covering Big Ten football though, so Penn Staters are thinking they have the inside scoop one who may be the next great running back in the conference. The lack of media attention is fair to a point. Whoever it was stepping in to the starting job was taking over for the school’s all-time leading rusher (Evan Royster), but even he admits that his career record will soon fall as long as Redd is lining up behind the quarterback.

Redd studies and prepares to make himself a better player, and that will pay dividends for Penn State. Redd has all the tools to remind those watching of former greats such as Curt Warner and Blair Thomas and D.J. Dozier and Larry Johnson and Ki-Jana Carter. High expectations? Absolutely. Deserved? Most likely. Byt the end of the season, Redd will be a household name to those in the Big Ten Network viewing area, and it will not be long until football fans from coast to coast start to respect Redd for being a dominant running back.

Having an improved offensive line in front of him though will be the key for Redd’s success. The offensive line loses Stefen Wisniewski and Lou Eliades but may be one of the biggest surprises on the team this season if they can find a rhythm early.

The Others: Brandon Beachum will be the most overlooked player on the roster. Finally back after missing the 2010 season due to a 2009 ACL injury, Beachum had a solid outing during the Blue-White game. His role should increase with the departure of Stephfon Green as well. Curtis Dukes will also look to get some extra snaps with Green out of the picture. The redshirt sophomore will likely split snaps with Beachum by the end of the season.

Projected Starting Fullback for 2011

Joe Suhey | SR | 6′ 1″ | 222 lbs

Strength: Dependable, solid

Weakness: Slightly undersized

Suhey was the top fullback on the team last season and there is no resons to suspect he will lose his starting job in 2011. With strong family ties to Penn State it is no wonder Suhey has become a bit of a fan favorite in State College. What Suhey brings to the table is a pair of dependable hands that can take defenses by surprise on a swing pass and provide protection for the quarterback and running back. If opposing defenses forget to keep track of him, then Suhey can do some moderate damage.

The Others: Michael Zordich, another player with Penn State family ties, will give the Nittany Lions another veteran option out of the backfield for blocking and giving the quarterback an extra second or two to find a target in the open field. Zordich and Suhey are alike in many ways but Zordich is bigger than Suhey, so his strength will remain blocking while Suhey will be a bit more mobile.

Also look for Zach Zwinak to work his way up the depth chart as the season goes along. The prized recruit out of Maryland in the Class of 2010 redshirted last season and will be likely to be joining Redd in the backfield as early as 2012. Any work he can get in this season will be valuable for the future of the offense.

Kevin McGuire

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. College Football Hall of Fame voter. Also managing Bloguin's NittanyLionsDen.com and Macho-Row.com.

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