York County Lions ready to roar?
York County has sent many top football players to Penn State over the years. Red Lion’s Scott Fitzkee in the 70s, York High’s Tisen Thomas in the 80s, Eastern’s Jon Witman in the 90s, Spring Grove’s Jim and John Shaw and Susquehannock’s Chaz Powell in the 00s, come to mind.
Central’s Kyle Baublitz and Dallastown’s Ben Kline populate the Nittany Lions roster now, and this could be the year these two have a chance to make their mark in Beaver Stadium.
Baublitz, with third year eligibility, is currently listed at the top of the depth chart at one of two defensive tackle spots. The big Panther alum has struggled to make an impact so far. Playing linebacker for Brad Livingston, he was recruited as a defensive end. My enduring memory of Baublitz at Central is of him catching and escorting a speedy running back the last 40 yards into the end zone on a long scoring play. His speed was thought to be an asset at defensive end.
But that didn’t pan out, and he’s moved to the middle of the D line now. At 6-5 and 286, he’s tall but not big weight-wise at the position largely called on to plug holes and stop the run or eat up blocks so the linebackers can get to the ball carrier. His speed still could be an asset here, but he’ll need good technique with his height, or centers and guards will get low and gain leverage on him. His height could be a plus in getting in the quarterback’s passing lane vision.
Kline is listed second behind Mike Hull at one outside linebacker spot. He’s recovering from a shoulder injury that kept him out of spring drills. Kline made some nice plays on special teams last year, and will get his chance to show what he can do providing depth at linebacker. Ben is a hard hitter, and at 6-2, 227, he’s big enough, though not among the larger Big Ten backers. The question is whether he has the speed to play the run on the corners and get back in pass coverage. We’ll find out this fall.
Sanction-related scholarship limits mean every scholarship athlete will have to perform for the Lions to stay competitive the next three years. Baublitz and Kline have earned their shots this fall. If they can take the next step it will make following Penn State football even more interesting for York County fans the next couple of seasons.