PSU notebook: Wilkerson out with back issue
STATE?COLLEGE One of Penn State’s many talented tight ends, Brent Wilkerson, will be out for what coach Bill O’Brien called “a while” because of a back injury.
Neither O’Brien nor Wilkerson elaborated on the injury, although Wilkerson did say it’s his lower back.
“I don’t want to reveal all that,” Wilkerson, a redshirt freshman, said when asked about details. “I’m just taking it one day at a time right now. I’m not really sure when I will get back.”
Penn State is loaded at tight end with Kyle Carter, Jesse James, Matt Lehman and Adam Breneman, so it’s actually one of the few positions the team has enough depth to overcome a loss.
In other injury/personnel news:
O’Brien said running back Zach Zwinak “is doing fine” coming back from a left wrist injury.
Backup linebacker Ben Kline is practicing but will continue to be monitored as he comes back from a shoulder injury. O’Brien said he believes Kline will be OK but added, “Sometimes he’ll practice, sometimes he won’t.”
Backup running back Bill Belton still hasn’t been cleared yet academically, but O’Brien said that situation will be resolved soon and believes Belton will be eligible to play.
Freshman receiver DaeSean Hamilton will miss the season with a wrist injury he suffered in high school.
A-Rob on move
Allen Robinson had a breakout season in 2012 with 77 catches for 1,013 yards, and his role will change a bit this year as he will be more active on offense.
“We’re going to move him around a ton,” O’Brien said. “Last year he basically played ‘X’ for us, and he’ll be all over the map this year.”
The coach also praised Robinson’s conditioning and said he’s faster and stronger this year.
ESPN camera crews are getting unprecedented access to the Penn State football program, following the team for the upcoming program “Training Days.”
O’Brien has made a point of opening things up during the post-scandal era so people can see the PSU program is full of quality young men who stand for the right things. ESPN will use the footage during a one-hour special on Aug. 20, as well as five 30-minute episodes beginning Aug. 21.
“It’s great for our program,” O’Brien said. “I believe it’s great for our kids, and I think it’s great for Penn State. And I think it’s really important during this time period that the people of Penn State, the Penn Staters and all the fans of Penn State just see the type of kids we have.
“We have fantastic guys, and I think the ESPN crews have really seen that. That’s the one thing they mention to me every night is, ‘boy, you’ve got great kids,’ and that’s a credit to our guys.”
News and notes
O’Brien said the defense was “a little bit ahead of the offense” through the first three practices. “We’ve got to crank it back up today on offense and do a better job,” he said of Thursday’s practice.
Special teams coaching duties will be split up between running backs coach Charles London and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden.
Players can no longer take advantage of the NCAA sanction allowing them to transfer and play immediately, but O’Brien said he hasn’t worried about that in a long time. “Once last season started we weren’t even thinking about that transfer rule anymore,” he said.
Like last year, there will be captains named for each game, then season captains named at the end of the year.
O’Brien bristled at the last question of the day, about whether he’s worried that his young quarterbacks don’t have a seasoned veteran to learn from. “No, they’ve got a seasoned coach they can learn from,” he said.