Always, the spring provides opportunities for new football faces at Penn State.

And during the next few weeks, the defending Big Ten champs will look to start breaking in critical replacements at receiver, in the secondary and on the offensive and defensive lines.

The thing is, a rebuilding mode is not being predicted by most.

A spring of reloading for another title run?

If so, it's because the Nittany Lions return many key pieces from their 11-2 Rose Bowl season when spring practice starts on Wednesday and culminates with the annual Blue-White Game on April 25 in Beaver Stadium.

Surely, new players will shine, some will hit a wall and probably at least a couple will suffer injuries worth noting.

Here are some things to look for in the next month:

1. The quarterbacks ...
Daryll Clark, who emerged as a Big Ten star last fall, will concentrate on building a rapport with a new receiving group. Even more intriguing, though, will be the development of true freshman Kevin Newsome, the highly-touted, dual-threat QB who enrolled early and will be expected to be Clark's backup, maybe from the season's beginning.

2. A reshaped secondary ...
There will be plenty of experimenting with four new starters. Keys will be talented but under-performing cornerback A.J. Wallace and the impact of big true freshman safety Gerald Hodges and hyped sophomore safety/corner D'Anton Lynn.


Can William Penn High grad Knowledge Timmons finally see meaningful minutes on defense?

3. Reloading on the D-line ...
Pay particular attention to young defensive end Jack Crawford, a monster pass-rusher in waiting. A line that lost its top three ends needs him to perform well quickly.

Also worth noting is massive Harrisburg tackle Brandon Ware, who has quick feet and a ton of potential but probably still needs to shed more weight from his 345-pound frame. Another tackle, Devon Still, could be a force if he can finally stay healthy.

4. In search of good hands ...
After losing its most productive trio of receivers in school history, the Lions will rely on a mix of body types and abilities -- none with very much experience.

The leader could be former walk-on possession guy Graham Zug. There is a big body in Brett Brackett and a tall, lanky flyer in Derek Moye and an all-purpose threat in Susquehannock High's Chaz Powell.

Someone needs to step up.

5. Getting busy ...
With all of the uncertainty at wideout, the offense figures to rely on their three talented tight ends more this season. And the wildcard is senior-to-be Andrew Quarless, who is built big and long with startling speed and potentially good hands. Off-field problems, though, have hindered him since his breakout freshman season.

6. The leader returns ...
A year ago, All-America linebacker Sean Lee suffered a season-ending knee injury during spring workouts. Now he is back and apparently healed. He will participate in drills, but probably will be held out of significant contact work, just to be safe.

7. The best around? ...
The return of Lee and the stunning development of Navorro Bowman give Penn State two-thirds of maybe the best linebacking group in the nation. The battle for the other spot, maybe between big-play Nate Stupar and intense Mike Mauti (described as a Dan Connor clone), could be the best in preseason.

8. Anchoring the line ...
Arguably the team's most talented returning offensive lineman, guard Stefen Wisniewski, will be moving to center. He will try to solidify a group also breaking in a new tackle, two new guards as well as key backups.

9. Keep an eye on ...
Jerome Hayes, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, suffered his second season-ending knee injury early last fall. He's has rehabbed and is back yet again and will be practicing, though in limited fashion. We may begin to determine, though, what kind of recovery to expect.

10. More help on the way ...
The recruiting front has been rather quiet lately. Look for that to change by the end of the spring with the next verbal commitments expected.

Could it be Philadelphia offensive lineman Seth Betancourt? Or Connecticut linebacker Khairi Fortt? Or Baltimore receiver Adrian Coxson?

All are studs and are a few of those seriously considering the Nittany Lions.; 771-2104