Breakout players for 2013: No. 5

During the next week, NittanyNation will count down the five Penn State players who weren't named to the All-Big Ten teams and are poised for breakout seasons in 2013.

The No. 5 breakout player: S Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, rising redshirt senior

Obeng-Agyapong was supposed to be the backup in 2012, a situational player who played some special teams but mostly acted as an understudy to Jake Fagnano. But when an injury hindered Fagnano in the preseason, he was pressed into service out of necessity.

When Fagnano recovered, Obeng-Agyapong won the starting job anyway -- and initially struggled. The secondary, especially the safeties, was the weak point for this defense and this team. But Obeng-Agyapong put in the work and, before long, several of his teammates heralded him as the most-improved player.

With Fagnano's graduation, there's no controversy about who's starting next season. It'll be Obeng-Agyapong, and another offseason with John Butler will do this rising fifth-year player wonders. If he can maintain that improvement, he could be in for a surprisingly good season.

He's good in run support and made twice as many pass breakups as Malcolm Willis. He'll be asked to do more with four departures along the front seven, but he's athletic and should be able to adjust to whatever gameplan the Nittany Lions might need to implement. He's definitely a player whose progress fans should track.

Quotables: "We came a long way. Ohio, UVa. -- we took a lot of criticism because we couldn't get off the field on third downs. ... We got better each and every game. We tried to correct our mistakes, and I definitely think we have improved a lot, especially the play of the safeties. Stephen Obeng is playing great."

-- Cornerback Stephon Morris