Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 21, 2016

James Franklin?s third Penn State team has some challenges. The staff has been altered radically. Franklin fired offensive coordinator John Donovan and saw defensive coordinator Bob Shoop leave for Tennessee while offensive line coach Herb Hand left for Auburn. Plus, a number of players transferred.

Amid the turnover, Franklin will try to take the next step in State College after going 7-6 in each of his first two seasons and 6-10 overall in the Big Ten. This remains a young roster that teems with promising talent.

The offense has back Freshman of the Year RB Saquon Barkley and WRs Chris Godwin, DaeSean Hamilton, Brandon Polk and Saeed Blacknall, among others. The defensive returners are highlighted by S Marcus Allen, CB Grant Haley, LB Brandon Bell, LB Jason Cabinda, DE Garrett Sickels and LB Nyeem Wartman-White.

Read other recent Top 5 replacement posts via the links below:

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Penn State loses players like TE Kyle Carter, S Jordan Lucas and CB Trevor Williams. And several players are transferring: WR Geno Lewis, RB Akeel Lynch, LB Troy Reeder and DB DaQuan Worley. Here?s a look at the top five players for Penn State to replace from 2015.

QB Christian Hackenberg. He enjoyed a mercurial career but still was highly productive, as he leaves school a year early as the program?s all-time leading passer. In three seasons, Hackenberg passed for 8,457 yards, 48 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He started every game while at Penn State, compiling a 21-17 record. But the last two seasons, Hackenberg was sacked a national-high 82 times, as his productions slipped after Bill O?Brien was replaced by James Franklin.


DT Austin Johnson. He is turning pro early after being a force for the Nittany Lions in 2015 with 78 tackles, third on the team. He also had 6.5 sacks and 15.0 tackles for loss this season. His 78 stops were third among defensive tackles in FBS and the most by a Nittany Lion defensive lineman since Jimmy Kenney had 87 stops in 2002. The 2015 All-Big Ten second-team selection started every game each of the last two seasons and 28 contests overall in his career.


C Angelo Mangiro. Yes, the offensive line has been a sore spot the last two years, but Mangiro provided a good anchor for the unit. He was the quarterback up front who directed traffic and made the calls, a leader for a young unit. Mangiro also was tough.


DE Carl Nassib. An amazing story, Nassib arrived at Penn State as a preferred walk-on. He left as an All-American who earned 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors and won the Lombardi and Hendricks Awards. Nassib led the nation in sacks (15.5) and was 11th in tackles for loss (19.5). He was a true difference maker off the edge.


DT Anthony Zettel. A dynamic force on the interior, Zettel garnered third team All-Big Ten honors after collecting 47 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks this season. He was second on the team in pass breakups (6) and passes defended (6). He finished his career tied for seventh in career sacks (20.0) and 10th in tackles for loss (38.0).


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