Blue White Illustrated

Jan. 14 Newsletter

Penn State Sports Magazine

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J A N U A R Y 1 4 , 2 0 1 5 B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M 2 the candidates to take over his post at Mike linebacker. While there is a possibility that Nyeem Wartman could slide into that role a;er starting most of his sophomore season at Will linebacker, Bob Shoop said prior to the bowl game that the competition will likely come down to Ben Kline, Troy Reeder and Gary Wooten. They might not have seen much playing time this past season – in fact, only Wooten got on the field – but Hull said all three could play critical roles in 2015. BEN KLINE Sr., 6-2, 238 Kline saw action in all 12 games as a redshirt freshman, but he battled through injuries as a sophomore and played in only six games, although he made two starts at outside linebacker. Going into spring practice last year, Kline figured to be an important part of Shoop's defensive scheme, but he tore an Achilles tendon and was forced to sit out the entire year. He is expected to return for his fi;h season, but his status for spring practice remains uncertain. Hull said that whenever Kline returns to full health, he will be capable of taking over as a defensive leader in 2015. "Kline is a really good football player," Hull said. "I think he was one of our bet- ter players before he got injured. He's re- ally intelligent – more intelligent than me. If he can stay healthy next year and everything works out, I think they're in good hands." Although it's been almost a year since Kline has put pads on, Hull said the sen- ior "has basically been locked in the weight room" throughout his rehab. He's listed at 238 pounds, but fans should ex- pect to see a much larger version of Ben Kline once the season rolls around. "He looks the part, that's for sure," Hull said. "Hopefully he can get back and have a healthy season under him." TROY REEDER R-Fr., 6-1, 244 Reeder joined Penn State last season as a three-star prospect from Wilmington, Del., where he gained a reputation in high school as a workout warrior. He cer- tainly hasn't relaxed since beginning his college career. He's also known for his football IQ. With Hull and Wooten ahead of him on the depth chart, the coaching staff al- lowed Reeder to take a redshirt. Although he wasn't playing, Reeder traveled to every road game and practiced closely with the first- and second-stringers rather than with the scout team. Much of that practice time was spent monitoring the habits of Hull, and with that first year under his belt, Reeder ap- pears to be a viable candidate to take over the Mike LB reins as a redshirt freshman. "I think Troy Reeder, once he figures it out, is going to be a really good player," Hull said. "It just takes time, especially at the Mike position because you have so much responsibility." Reeder has yet to see game action, but from what Hull has seen in practice, the freshman is comparable to a recent Line- backer U alum who is now playing in the NFL. "He just reminds me a lot of Glenn Carson because of the way he moves, and [Reeder has] the same type of personality and instincts," Hull said. "I think he could be that type of player." GARY WOOTEN Jr., 6-2, 237 Wooten was a late addition to the 2012 recruiting class, arriving at Penn State from Miami, Fla., around the same time that preseason practice began that August. He ended up red- shirting that first year and played spar- ingly in 2013. As a sophomore in 2014, he played in all but three games, including one start, and finished with 12 tackles, 1.5 of which went for a loss. While it has been somewhat of a slow start during his first three seasons at Penn State, Hull said Wooten now has the experience to be capable of making an impact next season. "Gary Wooten has come a long way since he started," Hull said. "I think these last couple [bowl] practices, he's had his best practice being vocal and a leader, which is very promising for the future." Wooten earned his first career start against Michigan State in the season fi- nale after injuries to outside linebackers Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda forced a lineup shakeup. With Bell out, Wart- man shifted to the starting Sam posi- tion, while Hull slid outside to Wartman's normal Will spot. That af- forded Wooten the opportunity to start, and he finished the game with three tackles. LEARNING THE POSITION Wooten, shown here taking part in a drill in Holuba Hall last spring, is set to challenge Kline and Reeder for the Nit- tany Lions' starting middle linebacker spot. Photo by Patrick Mansell

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