- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Stefen Wisniewski is back to where he started at Penn State, and this time, he thinks he'll stay there.
Wisniewski, a consensus first-team All-Big Ten center in 2009, is once again practicing at guard this spring in Happy Valley. He made the move after the Nittany Lions' fourth practice, as senior Doug Klopacz is working as the team's starting center.
Wisniewski started 12 games at guard in 2008 before shifting to center last year as Penn State had to replace Rimington Trophy winner A.Q. Shipley.
"I know the coaches like me at guard," Wisniewski told me. "They think I'm a better guard than I am a center, which I think I agree with. I've been playing exclusively guard, but I don't know for sure if that's a permanent move."
Wisniewski admits he's more comfortable at guard but would move back to center without objection if it was what the team needed. After some initial struggles with the switch to center, he settled in more as the season went on, despite being a "more natural" guard.
The switch back is one of several tweaks coaches have made to the line, as they hope to find the right combination to protect a young quarterback in 2009. Lou Eliades, the team's starting right guard last season, has shifted to right tackle. DeOn'tae Pannell, who started four games at right tackle last year, is working at left guard this spring but could be moved back to the edge of the line. Wisniewski recognized both Eliades and Pannell for their play this spring.
Sophomore Quinn Barham has been working as Penn State's top left tackle, and while he lacks experience, he brings "that left-tackle build," according to Wisniewksi, and good athleticism to the position.
Is Penn State's line shuffling complete? Probably not. Given the importance of building chemistry up front, Wisniewski and his line mates would like to see a resolution soon.
"I'd certainly like to see that as soon as possible," he said, "but however long it takes us to figure out who our best five are, we want to have our best five out there. I'd imagine those kinds of decisions will be made finally during camp in the fall.
"If it would happen earlier in camp, it would make things easier for us, definitely."
13hBrian Bennett and Austin Ward