Ohio State coach Urban Meyer's plea for playmakers started in early April, continued through the Buckeyes' spring game and will likely extend into preseason camp.

To the Buckeyes' east on the Big Ten map, another new coach installing his own offense isn't lamenting his lineup.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said he has identified multiple big-play threats who fit the Nittany Lions' pro-style offense.

"Every offense needs guys that can create explosive plays, chunk plays," O'Brien said. "I think we have a number of guys there."

O'Brien listed five players as potential big-play threats: wide receivers Devon Smith, Shawney Kersey, Justin Brown and Alex Kenney, and running back Silas Redd.

O'Brien said his offense, which features characteristics of the New England Patriots' system, requires a deep group of receivers. Four Patriots, including tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, caught 50 or more passes last season.

"A lot of guys are going to play there," O'Brien said. "We have a top six and rotate guys in and out. That's the way we have always done it.

"At New England, we brought four or five receivers to a game and used every one of them. All of those receivers will have a role."

Smith was responsible for three of Penn State's six longest plays from scrimmage in 2011. But health and legal issues currently surround the slick 5-foot-7 senior.


A foot injury shelved Smith for most of the spring. He also faces charges for possessing a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The charges stem from a March 14 incident at an on-campus apartment.

O'Brien, who was hired in January, said he has formed a "special bond" with Smith. O'Brien has said multiple times during coaches' caravan stops that any disciplinary action involving Smith will be handled privately.

Smith caught 25 passes for 402 yards last season. He had three touchdown receptions of 43 yards or longer.

Penn State had just eight touchdowns of 25 yards or longer as a team. Brown, the Nittany Lions' leading returning receiver, is the only other offensive player on O'Brien's list who had a lengthy touchdown in 2011.

Brown registered a 69-yard touchdown reception in Penn State's TicketCity Bowl loss to Houston.

Curtis Drake had a 44-yard touchdown reception in the regular-season finale at Wisconsin. Drake is now trying to become a defensive playmaker. The junior moved from wide receiver to corner back before spring drills.

Redd rushed for 1,241 yards last season, but he didn't post a touchdown run longer than 17 yards. Redd had two 42-yard runs that didn't end with touchdowns.

Penn State averaged 5.0 yards per offensive play in 2011, which tied for the league's lowest mark. Ohio State averaged 5.1 yards per play. Wisconsin and Michigan led the conference at 7.0 and 6.2 yards, respectively. The Badgers and Wolverines participated in BCS games.

Kenney, a State College High School graduate and four-time PIAA Class AAA 100-meter dash medalist, could emerge as a big-play threat. Kenney scored 18 touchdowns of 25 yards or longer as a high school senior. The sophomore missed last month's Blue-White Game with a minor knee injury.

As O'Brien searches for Penn State's version of Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, Meyer, who won two national titles at Florida, will look for the Ohio State editions of former Gators stars Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow.

Who said this new coach stuff isn't intriguing?

Traditions and tweaks: Penn State's uniforms aren't going the way of its offense.

"Why would you touch the football uniform at Penn State?" O'Brien told a caravan crowd Tuesday in Hazleton.

O'Brien does have some other tweaks planned.

Players will sing the alma mater with raised helmets after games. O'Brien also plans to bring in guests and motivational speakers throughout the summer and fall.

Seniors will rotate turns as game captains.

Big draws: The curiosities surrounding O'Brien and Meyer's offenses were big draws this spring.

Ohio State led BCS conference schools by attracting 81,112 fans to its spring game, according to aSports Business Dailyreport. Penn State's crowd of 60,000 ranked third.

Defending national champion Alabama drew 78,526 fans to its spring game.

Other notable spring game attendance figures: Texas (fourth, 46,000), Notre Dame (14th, 31,582), Michigan (17th, 25,000), Michigan State (20th, 21,000), Pitt (52, 4,607) and Temple (60, 2,500).

O'Brien ranked 62nd: Here's another example of thought-provoking college football copy that goes viral when games are still 31/ 2 months away.

TheSporting News released its ranking of all 124 FBS conference coaches on Thursday. O'Brien hit the median. The publication ranked him 62nd. He's the highest ranked coach with no head coaching experience.

Alabama's Nick Saban tops the list, followed by Boise State's Chris Peterson and Meyer. Peterson's name had been linked to multiple high-profile openings, including Penn State's.

The publication ranks O'Brien as the Big Ten's eighth-best coach.