Player Spotlight: Ben Kline
The Penn State Nittany Lions will head to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to take on the Golden Gophers this weekend. Penn State enters the game at 5-3, while the Golden Gophers come in with a surprising 7-2 record. Bill O’Brien has never faced Minnesota and this week he will rely on his defense to shut down the potent rushing attack of Minnesota. One of the players O’Brien will rely on this week is redshirt sophomore linebacker, Ben Kline.
The 6’2”, 230, pound linebacker hails from Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania. He is a 2011 graduate of Dallastown Area High School, where he was the first freshman to start for the varsity football program, in school history. As a senior, he led the Wildcats to an 11-1 season, and their first county championship in 30 years. Kline led his team both on offense and defense. He recorded 152 tackles, while racking up 13 touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball. Through his success on the field Ben was named to the Parade All-American Team, which honors the best 53 seniors in high school football.
Kline was originally committed to the Pittsburgh Panthers. After a late scholarship offer came from Penn State, Kline switched his commitment to the Nittany Lions. He arrived to Penn State in the summer of 2011. Due to tremendous depth at the linebacker position, Kline was redshirted.
The 2012 season was the first year Kline saw time on the field. Once again, Penn State had much depth at the linebacker position. Future NFL draft picks Gerald Hodges and Mike Mauti, extremly talented linebackers in their own right, were ahead of Kline on the depth chart. However, Kline was able to contribute most often on special teams. Kline was a starter on all four of the primary special teams units and he registered 18 total tackles in his first season on the field. At the end of the season, Kline suffered a shoulder injury which required him to have offseason surgery. This surgery prevented him from participating in spring practice this year, because he was still recovering.
Kline is not only one of the best players on the Penn State defense; he is one of the smartest players in the Big Ten conference. Ben was named to the Big Ten All Academic team. He registered a perfect 4.0 GPA in finance in the spring semester of 2013. These scores bring his cumulative GPA to 3.94, which proves not only is Kline getting it done on the field, but he is also excelling in the classroom.
Coming into the 2013 season, Kline battled Nyeem Wartman and Mike Hull for time at the outside linebacker positions. In the first game of the 2013 season against Syracuse, Kline saw significant playing time, where he registered two tackles and half a sack. However, following the game with the Orange, Kline once again re-injured the same shoulder. He was forced to sit out the Eastern Michigan game, due to the recurring injury.
He returned for the Central Florida game, but due to being limited in practice, he saw little playing time in the game. Kline was able to rehab enough to return to the field to see significant time in the Kent State contest. The very next week, he once again re-injured his
shoulder and missed the next two games. But, Kline returned for the Ohio State game and during the game he registered his first career sack against potential Heisman Trophy candidate, Braxton Miller.
The game catapulted Kline into a position to start his first collegiate game. After battling through a severe shoulder injury, Kline finally earned a starting role for Linebacker U. In his first career start, Kline registered eight tackles and two pass breakups. He is finally settling into his role as the starter. When he has been healthy, he has flourished. Look for Kline to breakout as one of the better linebackers Penn State has in the next few seasons.