Though the season opener against Jacksonville is weeks away, there’s plenty going on in the world of Penn football.
As preseason practices roll on, the Quakers have made headway towards settling their special teams position battles, while several newcomers and veterans have made names for themselves at other positions.
The most notable news to have broken out of the Red and Blue’s camp in recent days has been the confirmation that running back Lyle Marsh has been granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA.
“He got approved, so that was good news last week,” coach Al Bagnoli said.
Marsh took the 2013 season off to concentrate on academics, one year after he ran for 516 yards and was named second-team All-Ivy. Marsh received an extended number of reps with Penn’s second-team offense at Wednesday’s practice, taking handoffs from senior quarterback Patton Chillura.
Sophomore signal-caller Alek Torgersen has handled much of the first-team offensive duties, and has been joined in the backfield by a previously unheralded name.
Freshman running back Tre Solomon lined up alongside Torgersen in shotgun sets for several plays, serving as a fresh face in the usual backfield committee of Kyle Wilcox and Mike Elespuru .
“[Solomon’s] a really talented freshman,” Bagnoli said. “He’s very explosive, has great vision and has great shake.”
On the wide receiver front, the Quakers may be as deep as they’ve ever been.
Veterans Conner Scott , Ty Taylor and Cameron Countryman are givens, but running back convert Spencer Kulcsar , senior Eric Fiore and freshman Justin Watson have all shown plenty in practice.
“It’s probably our deepest position right now from top to bottom,” Bagnoli said.
Another recent boost for the Quakers has been the addition of some clarity in the race for the starting kicker job.
As it stands now, junior Jimmy Gammill stands atop the depth chart, with senior Connor Loftus — last year’s starter — and sophomore Aron Morgan battling it out behind him in a situation that Bagnoli qualified as “fluid.”
Gammill displayed some impressive leg strength at Wednesday’s practice, coming up just short on a 58-yard attempt after his first kick from that distance was blocked.
“Jimmy’s had a pretty strong preseason,” Bagnoli said. “All three of them have kicked very well, so it’s becoming a strong position for us.”
Fans will have to wait a little bit longer to find out who will be handling the punting duties for the Quakers this season.
Freshmen Brock Elmore and Hunter Kelley have been battling head to head all summer, and Bagnoli does not expect to come to a final decision on the starter until next week.
“We flip them every day,” he said. “One day Brock is number one and Hunter’s number two, then the next day Hunter’s number one.”
With the start of the season approaching, a bit of competition is always a good thing.