It might take more than a handful of Penn State players to fill the leadership void created by the departure of Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich from last year's team.
"I don't know if it's four or five guys," junior running back Zach Zwinak said. "We have a bunch of people who have stepped up."
Malcolm Willis, a senior safety, has clearly emerged as one of the leaders, according to several of his teammates. Willis started six games as a freshman because of injuries and was a regular the last two seasons. He's expected to start alongside Stephen Obeng-Agyapong at safety.
"I take pride in being known as a leader," Willis said. "It humbles me. Guys we had in the past did such a great job. We have big shoes to fill. Every team is different. We'll have to overcome different obstacles than they had. I think we're up to the challenge."
Willis mentioned wide receiver Allen Robinson, offensive linemen Ty Howle and Eric Shrive, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, linebacker Glenn Carson and cornerback Adrian Amos as other team leaders.
"There are guys at every position who lead their unit," Willis said.
Jones, a senior who has played in 33 straight games since his freshman year, has been reserved for most of his career. But he's accepted his role as an elder statesman.
"We have to have guys step up who were quiet," he said. "I like to watch film a lot. I try to get young guys to watch film as much as they can so that when we go on the field there aren't any surprises."
Lift for Life: Shrive, who's fighting for a starting job at offensive tackle, also serves as president of Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter.
Shrive received the 2013 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award for his fund-raising. He's raised nearly $70,000 himself while at Penn State and has challenged his teammates to raise $300,000 for the 11th Lift for Life July 12, which will benefit the Kidney Cancer Association.
Penn State's Uplifting Athletes are selling the official "Iron Lion" T-shirts, which are worn by strength coach Craig Fitzgerald during games. Fitzgerald will autograph T-shirts for those who buy them from 5-6 p.m. Friday outside Beaver Stadium.
"We feel like this could be a major fund-raiser for us," Shrive said. "We're really excited for it."
Road to recovery: Penn State safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong has been held out of contact during spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason.
Obeng-Agyapong suffered a torn labrum against Navy in the third game last season and played through it the rest of the season.
"I'm doing a lot of individual stuff," he said. "They don't want me tackling anybody. I want to make sure I'm fully healed. I'm used to contact at the college level. I'm not too worried about getting back into it."
Obeng-Agyapong said he will be fully recovered for preseason practice in August.