Star Wars: Episode Two

Depth Stars: Defense

Yesterday, we here at NLD examined what the Nittany Lion offense would look like this fall if the highest ranked recruits all started.  We are continuing our Star Wars series today with Episode II – Depth Stars: Defense.


Defensive Backs:

In the Real World:  Nick Sukay and Drew Astorino have the safety positions locked up, and D’Anton Lynn will certainly be a starter at CB.  Chaz Powell may have a small lead of Stephon Morris for the other CB spot.

But if Stars were accurate: Not much changes.  The safety positions are held by Nick Sukay (6) and Drew Astorino (5), and the CB position is manned by Chaz Powell (6) and D’Anton Lynn (5).

What Happened?  Powell did spend some time on the offensive side of the ball, allowing Stephon Morris to see some snaps.  Still, since Powell has moved back to defense he has potentially earned his spot as a starter.

Stars’ Grade: A



In the Real World: The projected starters are Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and either Nathan Stupar or Khairi Fortt.

But if Stars were accurate: Michael Mauti (5.5) would stay in the middle, flanked by Michael Yancich (5.5) and Nathan Stupar (6) to either side.

What Happened?  Yancich just has not developed into what the coaches or fans ever expected him to, and has since been passed on the depth chart by Hodges (5).  Stupar had the starting job before he was injured, but is now in a competition with Khairi Fortt (4.5)

Stars’ Grade: B+


Defensive End:

In the Real World: The defensive end position is projected to be the weakest position on the roster.  Eric Lattimore and Jack Crawford will likely start, with Sean Stanley seeing substantial playing time.

But if Stars were accurate: Kevion Latham (5) and Jack Crawford (5) get the nod over a host of 4.5s, including Pete Massaro, Kyle Baublitz and CJ Olaniyan.

What Happened?  Firstly, Eric Latimore might have a higher SW score if he had a Scout star rating.  Kevion Latham simply never developed and Pete Massaro has been lost to an ACL injury.  It has yet to be seen if Baublitz or Olaniyan will receive any playing time.  Luckily, Stanley (4) has stepped up.

Stars Grade: B-


Defensive Tackle:

In the Real World: Devon Still is coming off a monster performance in last year’s Outback Bowl and will be lining up next to Jordan Hill to start games.

But if Stars were accurate: Devon Still (6) will be lining up next to…umm…nobody I suppose.  The next highest SW score is a 4, which is shared by Anthony Zettel , DaQuan Jones and Evan Hailes.

What Happened?  Zettel will likely see playing time, but until he gets on campus we cannot be sure of that.  Evan Hailes has had blood clot problems and Jones has been placed at both DT and DE.  Hill (3.5) has been the benefactor of seniority and lack-of-depth along the line.

Stars Grade: B-


Stars Defensive GPA: 3.17


The first two episodes of Star Wars have led us to a predictable conclusion: that the accuracy of star ratings depends significantly on the position.  The lowest grades (save for the quarterback situation, which is pretty unique at Penn State right now) all came on the offensive and defensive line.  Ultimately, it’s impossible to tell how a seventeen-year-old is going to develop over the next five years of his life, and very few high school linemen are D-I ready.  It simply takes more time to develop the muscle and technique to play on the line than the skill positions.

Meanwhile, the speed positions received the highest ratings.  The star ratings predicted both the WRs and the DBs well enough to receive an A.  This is most likely because speed, unlike weight, is something that can be almost fully developed before a prospect’s senior year of high school.

But that’s enough of an internal investigation.  Tomorrow we will predict the 2011 season based on every team’s total Star Wars rating, as well as the final BigTen standings.  Until then, may the force be with you.