Only a couple of weeks after Dallastown’s Ben Kline finally made it back on the football field, the rest of his season is now finished.The redshirt sophomore linebacker tore a pectoral muscle in Penn State’s loss at Minnesota and will miss the final three games.
Kline already had been playing through a shoulder injury that had ruined much of the first half of the fall. Actually, the shoulder problem began last year and he underwent off-season surgery in an attempt to repair it.
But though he worked slowly through spring practice and preseason practice this past August, the shoulder would not stay in place.
He played sparingly in the Nittany Lions’ first seven games before starting and making eight tackles against Illinois.
And though he injured the pectoral muscle on the second play of the game in Minneapolis, Kline stayed in until the end. Head coach Bill O’Brien said he didn’t know of the most recent injury when it happened.
“I don’t think he said too much to anyone,” O’Brien said.
The shoulder problem and pectoral injury are on different sides of his body and are not related, O’Brien said.
Kline expects to have surgery this week to repair the chest muscle and will have another shoulder operation at some point in the off-season, O’Brien said.
“He’s a tremendous kid,” O’Brien said.
“I think he definitely can come back from those (injuries) next season. Knowing Ben Kline, he’s going to rehab (hard). That’s the exact conversation I had with him … that we’re looking forward to him coming back.
“I look at Ben Kline and he’s a tough kid. He’s in the role of a Mike Yancich (former Penn State linebacker), a tough dude who loves to play football, loves Penn State.”
Kline’s first career sack came at Ohio State against Braxton Miller. He then followed up his first start by making four tackles at Minnesota.He owned a 3.90 GPA in finance coming into the fall semester and is an Academic All-America candidate.
“It’s too bad he was injured because, over the last two games, he’s played very well for us,” O’Brien said. “He stopped the run and played pretty well in the pass game.”
Kline’s injury points to a larger problem the Lions have been forced to deal with all season. Senior Glenn Carson appears to be the only starting linebacker who is completely healthy.
Junior Mike Hull was still recovering from an opening-game leg injury when the same knee was bent awkwardly last Saturday, causing a tremendous amount of pain. He did return to action to lead the team with nine tackles.
“It’s definitely challenged me mentally, but I just try to play hard as can and help my team,” Hull said. “Even if it doesn’t look perfect or look that great, I just find a way to get the job done.”
Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Nyeem Wartman has played up-and-down while dealing with a bad shoulder. True freshman Brandon Bell could see added playing time Saturday against Purdue, O’Brien said.