With the 2014 college football season heading down the final stretch the Senior Bowl is beginning to put together its roster for 2015 game. The Senior Bowl is the top all-star game for senior college football players heading to the NFL, and it serves as one of the premier offseason events leading up to the NFL Draft. On Monday the Senior Bowl announced 11 players have already accepted invites to play in the 2015 game in Mobile, Alabama.
East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden and wide receiver Justin Hardy were among the first players to accept their invites. Penn State safety Adrian Amos and linebacker Mike Hull, Navy long snapper Joseph Cardona, Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis, Michigan State free safety Kurtis Drummond, Oklahoma linebacker Geneo Grissom, Utah defensive end Nate Orchard also accepted invitations to play in the Senior Bowl.
The Senior Bowl also announced two players from the FCS has accepted his invite. Northern Iowa running back David Johnson and Samford free safety Jaquiski Tartt will look to show what they can do against some of college football’s best.
“We are so pleased that these invited players have responded so quickly in accepting to play in our 2015 game,” Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage said. “The importance of this event in the timeline of the NFL Draft cannot be understated and these prospects really understand the opportunity here.”
The Senior Bowl will be played Saturday, January 24, 2015 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
Penn State started off slowly, and Northwestern took advantage. The Wildcats pushed an up-tempo style on their first two drives, and ended each of the drives with a touchdown to jump out to a Beaver Stadium-silencing 14-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian was sharp in the first quarter, completing 11 of 15 passes for 150 yards and setting up the Wildcats for a pair of early touchdowns. Siemian actually scored both from short yardage, but the third time Northwestern was down close head coach Pat Fitzgerald opted to try a fake field goal. It did not work, but the Wildcats were showing some real energy.
It took Penn State a full 15 minutes to pick up a first down, with the final play of the quarter seeing Christian Hackenberg complete a pass on 3rd and 2 for the first down. That came on the drive immediately following a failed fake field goal attempt by the Wildcats that was stuffed by Penn State linebacker Mike Hull.
Things got so desperate for Penn State that James Franklin chose to go for it on a fourth and short from Penn State’s own 30-yard line in the second quarter. It paid off and Hackenberg was able to complete a deep pass down field, but the drive still ended without any points. Sam Ficken‘s field goal attempt was blocked. He would kick a late half field goal to finally put Penn State on the scoreboard.
Penn State deferred on the opening kickoff to start the game. Look to see if they try to strike quick out of the half.
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.