Gerald Cadogan could be the key to Penn State’s Big Ten title hopes.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — While wide-eyed kids holding footballs and posters lined up 10 yards deep for autographs from Penn State’s Derrick Williams and Anthony Morelli, teammate Gerald Cadogan stood off to the side in relative anonymity.
Soon enough though, the spotlight could shine on him. That happens when you take over for standout Levi Brown in the pressure-packed position of left tackle on the Nittany Lions’ retooled offensive line.
Cadogan would be wise to mimic Brown, taken fifth in the NFL draft this year by the Arizona Cardinals.
“Levi always told me, ‘Go out there and knock people over,”’ Cadogan said. “I have film on Levi knocking people over, so I’ll try to emulate him.”
Left tackle is key in protecting Morelli’s blind side on an offense that has the potential to be more exciting than Penn State’s blue and white uniforms. The Nittany Lions figure to compete again in 2007 for a Big Ten crown and a January bowl berth.
Following an up-and-down regular season, the offense came through with its most complete performance of the campaign in a 20-10 win over Tennessee in the Outback Bowl. The Lions are eager to start preseason camp, which starts in less than a month, when Morelli hopes to start clicking again with his talented receivers.
Williams thinks Penn State has an advantage now that Morelli, a senior, is entering his second year as a starter.
“I’m pretty sure this year is going to be his year,” Williams said. “He’s used to everything now.”
Need for protection
But Morelli isn’t quite as effective outside the pocket, so the line must deliver solid protection — something the unit didn’t do consistently last season. That might be even more critical this year with running back Tony Hunt, an excellent blocker, also gone to the NFL.
“We’re not really focused on the criticism,” Cadogan said. “We’re just trying to focus on getting comfortable as an offensive unit so we can win games.”
For Cadogan, that means getting used to more explosive defensive ends coming off the edge. The junior spent much of his career so far playing guard and tangling with slower defensive tackles.
Listed at 313 pounds this spring, Cadogan looked muscular but lean in a cutoff shirt during a Penn State charity event last week. Teammates admire his athleticism.
If the spring game is an indication of the starting lineup for the Sept. 1 opener against Florida International, only center A.Q. Shipley will remain in the same spot as last season. Nearly every projected first-team lineman, except for right tackle Dennis Landolt, started at least five games in 2006.
John Shaw, who was moved from right tackle to right guard, isn’t worried.
“We have right around 20 practices in preseason football,” Shaw said, “so we’ll have plenty of time to get use to each other’s playing style.”