Penn State might be without its most-experienced offensive lineman for the entire 2014 season.
Blue White Illustrated is reporting that Miles Dieffenbach, a fifth-year senior, tore his ACL during spring practice last week. Dieffenbach has started 23 games at guard for the Nittany Lions over the past two seasons, and his injury is a brutal blow for an already thin offensive line.
Penn State head coach James Franklin has a policy of not commenting on injuries, but he has expressed concern about the team’s depth along the offensive line throughout the spring.
According to BWI, the Nittany Lions dressed just 10 total offensive lineman during practice Saturday morning as Dieffenbach and fellow projected starter Andrew Nelson, along with center Angelo Mangiro, sat out with unspecified injuries. Franklin would not comment on the status of either Dieffenbach or Nelson, besides saying that he has not seen enough of either.
In addition to Dieffenbach, junior left tackle Donovan Smith is the only Penn State lineman to have any starting experience. Franklin has already moved over sophomores Derek Dowrey and Brian Gaia from the defensive line for added depth, but now with Dieffenbach out, those two – especially Dowrey – could be in line for a starting spot.
Mangiro, a junior, is competing for the starting center job with sophomore Wendy Laurent, while junior Anthony Alosi and redshirt freshman Brendan Mahon are also in the mix. Mangiro can also play guard.
In addition to early enrollee Chasz Wright, Penn State has three more incoming freshman – Noah Beh, Brendan Brosnan and Chance Sorrell -- to help bolster the line once they report to campus in June. All four freshmen are three-star recruits and now there is a very real possibility that some of them will be pressed into duty in their first year in Happy Valley.
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