Gary Wooten

Pouring salt on the wound, Penn State loses LB Wartman-White for the year

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As if losing to Temple for the first time since 1941 was not bad enough for James Franklin and Penn State, the loss ended up costing the Nittany Lions defense a key player for the rest of the season. Linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White suffered a leg injury that will sideline him for the rest of the season, Franklin said following Penn State’s 27-10 loss in Philadelphia.

The injury to Penn State’s redshirt  junior linebacker came on special teams duty in the second quarter on Saturday. After covering a punt, Wartman-White walked off the Lincoln Financial Field turf under his own power but was taken to the locker room for examination. He did not return, and now his 2015 season is done.

The loss of Wartman-White is not an easy one to overcome for Penn State. Despite the moniker of Linebacker-U, Penn State’s signature position on defense is still a tad shallow as the program continues to rebuild depth on the roster coming out of the abbreviated NCAA sanction phase. The depth may not be as much of a concern as it is on the offensive line, which allowed Christian Hackenberg to be sacked 10 times in the opener, but it is a valid one. Wartman-White was Penn State’s second-leading tackler a year ago, with 75 tackles in 12 games.

Gary Wooten was the one who took opver for the injured linebacker against Temple, and it would be expected he continues to fill the majority of the snaps at the now vacant position.

Possible starting LB for PSU suffers torn Achilles tendon

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Going into the 2014 season the Penn State roster is still considered to be thin on depth, an effect of the NCAA sanctions levied against the program two summers ago. Now the concerns on defense seem to be a bit more serious. Linebacker Ben Kline suffered a torn Achilles tendon. The injury could be season-ending according to Blue White Illustrated.

According to the report, Kline, a redshirt junior, is expected to miss significant time although the estimated timeframe is not known. A torn Achilles is no small injury to rebound from, and even when he is able to get on his feet and move, his mobility will likely be hindered for some time. This is a tough break for a player who has already worked through various injuries since joining the program.

Kline was expected to be a potential starting linebacker for the Nittany Lions this fall, but that looks to be out of the question for now. Kline’s 2013 season came to a premature end last November when a torn pectoral muscle sidelined him for the final games.

With Kline out of the picture, for now at least, Penn State has just four linebackers on scholarship with any playing time last season. Mike Hull, Nyeem Wartman, Gary Wooten and Branden Bell should all be at the top of the depth chart for now, but experience is extremely thin at a school with great pride in its linebacker lineage.