Now or never No. 4: DeOn’tae Pannell

Another easy choice for No. 4.

Senior offensive lineman DeOn’tae Pannell didn’t come to Penn State with a lot of fanfare, but he was so impressive as a true freshman that he saw action in the season’s first game, a blowout win over Coast Carolina in 2008. In all Pannell played in eight games that season and looked to be Penn State’s left tackle of the future, but it hasn’t even come close to playing out that way.

In 2009, Penn State slid Dennis Landolt over to left tackle and had Pannell start at right tackle, hoping to ease the burden on Pannell, but he was overmatched almost from the get go. After being beaten badly in a loss to Iowa and sustaining an ankle injury against Illinois, Pannell’s playing time dipped quite a bit. After starting the first four games, he only started three more the rest of the way.

Penn State slid Pannell inside to guard last season, but he got off on the wrong foot right away when he showed up to preseason camp out of shape. Pannell wound up starting the first two games of the season, but didn’t start again and didn’t see any action five of the season’s final 11 games. Quite a drop for a lineman who played as a true freshman.

If Pannell is going to play this season it will again be at guard. The experiment of him playing on the outside was given up a long time ago. The problem with Pannell is consistency. He can look good for a quarter and then look awful for three. Or the other way around. One thing Joe Paterno demands from his offensive linemen is consistency. He needs to know what he’s getting out of his guys up front. They don’t have to be All-Big Ten, which Pannell has the ability to be, but they have to be consistent. After four year I’m not sure Pannell will ever even get to that point.

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