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Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Most indispensable players: Penn State

By Brian Bennett

It's time once again for our series looking at the most indispensable players on each Big Ten squad entering the 2012 season.

All together now: this is not necessarily a listing of the best players on each team, but of those whose absence would cause the most pain because of their particular value or a lack of depth at their positions. Up now: Penn State.

Silas Redd, RB, Junior

Although Bill Belton had a nice spring, Penn State's backfield otherwise looked very thin. That makes Redd -- easily the team's best offensive weapon -- indispensable. Redd ran for 1,241 yards last season and was as good as any running back in the country during October. With the uncertainty at quarterback and at receiver, there's little doubt that head coach Bill O'Brien will ask Redd to carry a heavy load on offense. The Nittany Lions can't afford to lose him.

Jordan Hill, DT, Senior

Gerald Hodges is the best player on the Penn State defense, but Linebacker U could absorb the loss of a star at that position, even one as valuable as Hodges. It's much more difficult to replace talent at the defensive tackle position. Perhaps we're biased by how Devon Still raised his game as a senior en route to Big Ten defensive player of the year honors, but Hill looks like he's primed for a huge final season. He had 59 tackles and eight tackles for loss last year and will be the most experienced and accomplished figure in the middle of that Nittany Lions defensive front. Losing him would create a major hole that would not easily be filled.