Breakout prospect No. 2: Brandon Beachum

Running back Brandon Beachum seemed to be putting himself in position for a breakout season in 2010 late in the 2009 season.

As a sophomore, Beachum showed toughness and quickness in the hole, and the ability to make defenders miss in open space. He ran for 113 yards on 24 carries, a 4.7 yards per carry average, but he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in right knee covering a kickoff in the second to last game of the regular season. That all but ended any hopes of Beachum being able to even contribute, let alone breakout,in 2010.

A redshirt year burned and more than 16 months later, Beachum is still in line to have a breakout season. With career rushing leader Evan Royster graduated, senior tailback Stephfon Green injury prone and sophomore Silas Redd unproven as an every-down back, Beachum still has a chance to make his presence felt on this team. Even with Green and Redd in the fold, those guys aren’t inside runners. It doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done between the tackles, but Beachum is the guy who should get the call in those situations.

At 6-feet and 230 pounds, Beachum runs low to the ground, keeps his pads down and isn’t afraid to deliver the blow to a defender. But he isn’t strictly an inside runner. In high school, Beachum showed good vision, nimble feet and had some shiftiness about him. The biggest question though: are all those qualities still there after the knee injury?

There might not be a player on the offensive side of the ball that needs this spring practice more than Beachum. He needs to shake off the rust, get some contact in and get the feel for what it’s like to be back on the football field at 100 percent. He’ll be much better for it and so will Penn State’s chances of having a good rushing attack.

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