UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Tailback Evan Royster likely will be the centerpiece of Penn State's offense this season, but do not count out wide receiver Derek Moye.
He does not possess the same lofty credentials as Royster, but Moye is expected to star in the passing game as the Nittany Lions break in a new, untested quarterback.
"Derek has a chance to be something special," said quarterback Kevin Newsome, who is competing with Matt McGloin for the starting job. "He's very talented."
Moye, a redshirt junior from Rochester High School, enjoyed a breakout season last year, his first as a starter.
He blossomed into Daryll Clark's go-to guy, leading the team with 48 catches for 785 yards, 16 receptions of 20 yards or more, a 16.4-yard average and three 100-yard games.
Moye, 6 feet 5 and 201 pounds, finished with six touchdown catches, second to Graham Zug (seven). He earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten Conference honors.
When practice begins Thursday, the two-time PIAA champion sprinter will have higher goals. He hopes to produce bigger numbers and more game-breaking plays this season.
"I just want to go out there and try to do everything better," he said. "Not just in a statistical sense, but I want to try to make every catch and try to do everything better. I just want to go out there and compete and have fun. I'm looking forward to playing in the big games.
"As for being the go-to guy, I wouldn't say it's just me. I think our position in general is going to be counted on to make some plays. For the first part of the season, we've all got to pitch in and help bring the young quarterbacks along. And, as the season goes on, hopefully, they'll catch up."
Zug, a fifth-year senior and former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship before to the '08 season, also is a threat as Penn State's possession receiver. He had 46 catches for 600 yards (13.0 average) and seven touchdowns a year ago.
With redshirt junior Chaz Powell moving from receiver, where he had 28 catches for 366 yards (13.1 average) and three touchdowns in nine starts last year, to cornerback, there is a starting job open.
Fifth-year senior Brett Brackett, a former quarterback who had just three receptions for 13 yards and one touchdown last season, is listed No. 1 on the preseason depth chart. He is ahead of sophomore Curtis Drake, who had eight catches for 98 yards in a reserve role as a freshman. Drake is recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot and recently was cited by police for his involvement in a fight with freshman basketball recruit Taran Buie.
Other candidates for playing time at wide receiver include sophomore Justin Brown, who had five catches for 78 yards last season, sophomore Devon Smith, who had four for 30, and redshirt freshmen Shawney Kersey and Brandon-Moseby Felder.
Moye and Zug also are being counted on to provide leadership for the younger wideouts. It is quite a role reversal for Moye, who redshirted as a freshman and then caught three passes for 71 yards and one touchdown in 2008 while seeing little playing time behind a talented trio of four-year starters -- Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood.
"It's definitely a different feeling," Moye said. "We were just saying it felt like the other day we were just getting here and not knowing each other. And now the young guys are looking up to us for advice. That's kind of weird."
Penn State's players and coaches have had the Sept. 11 game at Alabama circled on their calendars. Not only will the Lions face the defending national champions, they will have to contend with Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Moye is well aware of the buzz surrounding that much-hyped matchup on ESPN.
"It's definitely a chance for us to put a mark on college football for this year," Moye said. "As for right now, a lot of analysts and experts in college football are kind of overlooking us because of our [unsettled] quarterback situation.
"But the people who are overlooking us really don't know what we have. We're looking forward to just going down to Alabama and playing hard and competing against them to the end."
Ron Musselman: firstname.lastname@example.org .