Penn State loses TE Matt Lehman for season

Penn State loses TE Matt Lehman for season
September 3, 2013, 4:00 pm

Matt Lehman had two catches for 17 yards in a win vs. Syracuse on Saturday. (AP)

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said during his weekly conference call Tuesday that tight end Matt Lehman, the team’s fourth-leading receiver in 2012, has been lost for the season with a knee injury.

Lehman, who had 24 catches for 296 yards and three touchdowns last year, was carted off after injuring his left knee in the first quarter of Saturday’s season-opening 23-17 victory over Syracuse in the Meadowlands.

“Anytime you have the player of the caliber and type of guy of Matt Lehman, it's not a good thing," O'Brien said. “To personally talk about Matt Lehman, I just absolutely love guys like that, guys that overcame the odds.”

Lehman, a 6-6, 260-pound senior, is a one-time walk-on who earned a scholarship in January. He began his college career in 2009 at Shippensburg, where he did not play, in part because he was 60 pounds lighter. He moved on to Penn State-Harrisburg, and eventually PSU.

O’Brien likened Lehman’s situation to that of former Nittany Lions linebacker Mike Mauti, who suffered repeated knee injuries in college but has made the Minnesota Vikings roster as a rookie.

"If he's willing to work at it,” O’Brien said of Lehman, “he's got a future in football ahead of him."

The Lions, who host Eastern Michigan this Saturday, took another hit last Saturday at tight end -- previously one of the deeper positions on their team -- when Kyle Carter injured his left elbow. Carter, whose 36 catches were second on the team last season, continued to play but did not register a reception. O’Brien pronounced him “day to day” -- his go-to designation for most injuries.

O’Brien did say that outside linebacker Mike Hull, who injured his right knee against the Orange, was “probable” for the EMU game.

Jesse James, who had 18 catches last year, is the likely starter at tight end if Carter is unable to go. Adam Breneman, a highly regarded freshman, is also in the mix at that position, but he played little in the opener.

O’Brien also said he is inclined to go with different personnel groupings, featuring more widespread use of his wideouts or an expanded role for fullback Pat Zerbe.