Penn State Football Spring Practice: Commitments, Injuries, And Roster Updates

Penn State opens spring practice for the 2011 season, with some known commodities (RB, WR, LB) and some lingering questions (QB, DB).

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Penn State Football Spring Practice: Derek Moye Out For Remainder Of Spring Practice

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette is reporting that Penn State starting wide receiver Derek Moye will miss the remainder of spring practice with concussions.

As had been previously reported, Moye's spot in the starting lineup is one of the strongest, so keeping him out of spring practice is fine with me. He has roughly five months to get back to healthy. And as many Pittsburgh fans know, you don't want to mess with concussions and concussion-like symptoms.

In other spring football news, Penn State will once again be hosting numerous recruits, including many highly rated prospects, this weekend in Happy Valley.

Penn State will play host to roughly 15 prospects on Saturday including five-star defensive tackle Jarron Jones, four-star linebacker James Ross, four-star defensive tackle Jamil Pollard and four-star offensive tackle Patrick DeStefano.

I wouldn't expect any of the highly rated players to commit on this trip, but there will also be some players visiting who don't have an offer, and predicting their moves isn't as easy.

Two recruits visiting that don’t have Penn State offers now but could possibly land one down the road are receiver Anthony Nash from West Chester (Pa.) Baynard Rustin, and quarterback Brian Blackburn of Detroit (Mich.) Crockett.

With the Blue-White Weekend looming, Penn State fans are anxious to see who will be the next recruit to join the growing Class of 2012.


Penn State Football Spring Practice: Coaches Clinic And Recruiting Visits Highlight Weekend

As we wrap up the second week of Penn State's spring practice, the first of three allowed scrimmages is set to take place on Saturday. The scrimmage, held in conjunction with Penn State's annual Coaches Clinic, will be closed to the public.

While we can only speculate as to what will go on in Happy Valley, the key questions on everyone's mind include: Who will get the most reps at quarterback? How will the wide receiver and defensive line units deal with recent injuries? And what underclassmen will make the strongest push for playing time?

This weekend also marks the third straight weekend that Penn State will play host to Class of 2012 recruits. The Nittany Lions have secured commitments in each of the last two weekends, but this weekend will not likely result in a new member of the Class of 2012.

Much-hyped New Jersey athlete Devin Fuller was on campus during the week ($), and one or two additional high profile recruits will be in attendance this weekend.


Penn State Football Spring Practice: Three New Class Of 2012 Commitments For The Lions

Last Friday, Penn State kicked off a string of weekends where it would play host to recruits from around the country.

On Saturday, March 19, Penn State received its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2012 in offensive lineman Anthony Stanko. He is a solid start to the class, and held offers from Northwestern and West Virginia, among others. Also on the visit with Stanko was Pennsylvania DE Noah Spence, one of the mostly highly-sought-after players in the northeast (and country for that matter). Spence has a PSU offer, but will wait to make his college decision

This past weekend, no fewer than 20 recruits were on campus, and two of them left as definite future Penn Staters. On Friday night, Massachusetts LB Camren Williams committed to play for Penn State, and the next day Maryland DE/TE Brent Wilkerson joined the Class of 2012 list.

More commitments are expected soon, but either way Penn State is really firing on all cylinders this year. What changed is fuel for speculation and rumor, but with three commitments before April 1, and with roughly 60 additional verbal offers outstanding, the Class of 2012 could be a special one.


Penn State Football Spring Practice: Pete Massaro And Curtis Drake Injured - Which Hurts More?

It wouldn't be Penn State spring practice without a visit from the injury bug, and this year's string of setbacks started early. Last week, during a noncontact drill, WR Curtis Drake suffered what AD spokesman Jeff Nelson called a "left leg injury." This is the second time a leg injury has set Drake back, as the wide receiver from Philadelphia broke his leg in preseason practice last year, forcing a 2010 redshirt. Drake is expected to miss the rest of spring practice, but it is not sure how his regular season will be affected.

Then, just yesterday, defensive end Pete Massaro injured his left knee in practice, and the outlook isn't good.

The extent of the injury is still to be determined but Massaro could miss the 2011 season.

Massaro was expected to push for a starting role behind Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore, each of whom are dealing with lingering injuries of their own. After taking a look at the depth chart earlier this week, these injuries beg the question: whose injury, for lack of a better word, hurts more?

Let's take another look at the wide receiver depth chart, this time including the Class of 2011 wide receivers.

Moye D. Smith Brown
Kersey Drake Moseby-Felder
Kuntz Belton Robinson

Drake's injury immediately forces true freshman Bill Belton into the backup slot receiver role. Others might challenge for and even see time in the slot role, but the prototypical slot receiver is the speedy playmaker, and Drake certainly fit that mold. Further, the experience on the depth chart, even with Drake, is top heavy. Moye and Brown are experienced at the wideout spots, and Smith has seen his fair share of playing time, but after that playing time has been limited. Kersey, Kuntz, and Moseby-Felder, all Class of 2009 recruits, combined for four catches in 2010. Zanellato, Belton, and Robinson are all incoming freshmen. Finally, players like Chaz Powell and Alex Kenney could be in line for a position change, but they are much needed in the defensive back depth chart.

Now, the defensive end depth chart, with 2011 commits that project on the defensive line.

Crawford Lattimore
Massaro Stanley
Baublitz Olaniyan
Barnes Oakman

If Massaro is truly out for the year, that moves Baublitz or Olaniyan into a spot on the two-deep. However, like the depth at wide receiver, experience is limited to those at the top. While Crawford and Latimore might be favorites for the starting roles in 2011, position coach Larry Johnson, Sr. utilizes a pretty regular rotation that featured all four players listed at the top two spots above in 2010, at least until Latimore's injury put him on the shelf. After that, Baublitz surprisingly burned his redshirt at the end of the year against Michigan State, and none of the rest of the players listed have seen a snap as a Penn State player. However, like position changes mentioned for some of the DBs above, some of the defensive tackles on the roster could slide in to help, but that position is thin, like the defensive backfield.

So which injury hurts more? It's tough to say. Replacing a wide receiver is arguably easier than replacing a defensive end, especially a rising star like Massaro. Unfortunately, it appears as if Massaro will have to sit out 2011. Which leaves eight players for two defensive end positions on the roster for 2011. Conversely, with Drake, Penn State has 10 wide receivers for three receiver positions. But Drake's specific position, that of slot receiver, is now left with two likely candidates.

Hopefully Drake will make a speedy recovery and put this debate to bed. Until then, fans will have to wait with bated breath until the injury bug hits again.


Penn State Football Spring Practice: An Early Look At PSU Depth Chart

The first game of the 2011 season is still more than 160 days away, but since spring practice is now roughly a week old, the first glimpses of the Penn State depth chart are out. Below is a way-too-early look at the depth chart; do not put too much stock into these, as they are almost certainly bound to change as players impress and others play/act their way out of certain units (looking at you, Johnnie Troutman). For some players, it still isn't clear where they will end up (Mike Yancich, Luke Graham, etc.), so best guesses were made when putting them on the depth chart.

None of the 2011 commits are on the depth chart except kicker Sam Ficken, though some may be asked to step in quickly if certain injuries aren't healed in time. Further, there are 72 players listed; if you add the 15 remaining 2011 commits, you'll see that Penn State is currently two over their required 85 scholarship limit. How that plays out is anyone's guess.

Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Fullbacks, and Wide Receivers

Moye D. Smith Redd Bolden Suhey Brown
Kersey Drake Green McGloin Zordich Moseby-Felder
Kuntz   Beachum Jones Zwinak  
    Dukes Newsome  

The Offensive Line + Tight End

Barham Farrell Stankiewitch Urschel Okoli Gilliam
Gress Mateas Howle Arcidiacano Shrive Haplea
Cadogan Figueroa Dieffenbach Pannell Ricketts Szczerba
  Troutman     Kolb Yancich

The Defensive Line

Crawford Still Jones Lattimore
Massaro Hill Terry Stanley
Baublitz Ware Hailes Olaniyan

The Linebackers

Fritz Middle Sam
Hodges Mauti Stupar
Hull Carson Fortt
Royer Bars

The Secondary

CB Free Hero CB
Lynn Astorino Willis Morris
Thomas Sukay Obeng-Agyapong Powell
Wallace     Kenney

The Kickers

Sam Ficken - placekicker
Anthony Fera - punter

Again, these are all subject to change, almost on a daily basis as each positional coach makes decisions and evaluations.


Penn State Football Spring Practice: Junior Day Attendees List Becoming Clearer

The Altoona Mirror has reported a number of the recruits that are likely to be on campus this weekend for Penn State's Junior Day. The recruits range from close at home to far away, and many of them are already highly ranked by the national recruiting services. Some of the more notable players named include:

  • Three highly recruited Massachusetts players in WR Canaan Severin (possibly), LB Camren Williams, and DB Armani Reeves. The latter two players are West Roxbury teammates, and are thought to be a package deal. Victory Bell Rings targets Williams as a potential commit by the end of the weekend.
  • Pennsylvania offensive linemen JJ Denman (Pennsbury) and Chris Muller (Boyertown Area) will be on campus. Muller recently named PSU as his leader, and many feel like he could be No. 2 on the 2012 commit list.
  • Pennsylvania RB Drew Harris (Downingtown East), who many feel is a lock to head south for college, will visit this weekend. If Penn State is to have any shot, they need to make a strong push for Harris now, or concentrate efforts elsewhere if Harris is intent on leaving the state.

The article mentions some players that have already changed their plans (Florida TE Kent Taylor), but by and large, it's a pretty accurate list. However, nothing is official until the kids step on campus. These visits are very strong recruiting tools, as nothing can compare to actually setting foot in the facilities and fields on which a recruit will be playing.

UPDATE: JC Shurburtt of 247Sports has an interesting article about the depth of Maryland and Pennsylvania in this year's recruiting class. Included within the article is a non-exhaustive list of Junior Day attendees, including two recruits from Maryland's football powerhouse, DeMatha Catholic, in Michael Moore and Brent Wilkerson.

Stay tuned for any news, hopefully Anthony Stanko gets some company on the Class of 2012 Commitment List.


Penn State Spring Football: First Practice In Pads And Junior Day Highlight Week

Today marked the first practice in pads for the Penn State football team's spring practice, and on days like this you can be glad you're not a tackling dummy or scout team member. These players have been waiting two long months to get out the frustration from the disappointing Outback Bowl loss.

Some quick notes from practice so far:

  • Both Matt McGloin and Robert Bolden have been throwing with the first team, while Paul Jones takes most of his reps with the second team. Not too much should be read into this, though, as the beginning of spring practice is mostly for technical practices and conditioning.
  • The 2011 roster was released, including 72 scholarship players and 30 non-scholarship players but not (yet) including the 15 2011 commits that did not enroll early (only one, Anthony Alosi, enrolled in January). 
  • Speaking of the roster, it appears that Penn State is currently oversigned, with (now counting the 15 extra recruits) 87 players on scholarship. Check here for an excellent article that explains PSU's predicament, but long story short, PSU has until July to trim two players from their scholarship ranks to make it to the 85 scholarship level mandated by the NCAA.

Finally, State College will be buzzing this weekend with 20+ high school juniors (and potentially a sophomore or two) that will converge on Happy Valley as a part of Penn State's pseudo-Junior Day. Rather than hold a giant camp-like day where many, many more junior recruits show up (like most of the bigger schools do), Penn State prefers smaller days so that the recruits can get a more intimate feel for the athletics, academics, and surroundings of Penn State. See here for the current updated list on the visitors ($).


Penn State Football Spring Practice: PSU Pro Day Arrives

Penn State's Pro Day has arrived, and has confirmed ($) that 11 players will be taking part in the event, which takes place over the entire morning and into the afternoon.

One notable change is that Evan Royster is in fact set to participate, due in fact to his less than stellar showing at the NFL Combine last month. As reported, Stefan Wisniewski will not participate too much, but is in attendance.

This event is closed to the media and any agents that the players may have signed with, or any prospective agents looking for future clients. The event is strictly a player/scout/coach event, whereby NFL talent scouts can get a first hand look at the former Nittany Lions and determine if any are worth of a draft pick or undrafted free agent signing.

With the current NFL lockout, it is difficult to say which of these players will be drafted. Wisniewski is roundly projected as a second- or third-round selection, while Royster could go anywhere from the fourth-round to not being drafted. It is unlikely that any of the other prospects will hear their names called on draft day, but some could end up on practice squads in the future. That is, if the NFL and players association ever reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.


Penn State Spring Football: Spring Practice Officially Moved Back

It has now been confirmed by Jeff Nelson, Penn State's Assistant Athletic Director of Communications, that Penn State's spring football practice will begin Saturday, March 19. The delay from Wednesday March 16 is likely caused by two previously mentioned items.

First, the men's basketball team is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years, and the athletic department likely did not want to detract any attention from the team. Though, should the men's basketball team beat Temple, they will play on Saturday in Tuscon, likely against San Diego State. A further delay for the football team is unlikely.

Second, as mentioned earlier today, Penn State's Pro Day is scheduled for tomorrow, March 16.

While many of the players (and fans for that matter) are excited to see the team back on the field, they will just have to wait a couple more days. The annual Blue vs. White spring game will still take place on April 16.


Penn State Spring Football: Penn State Pro Day March 16

Penn State will hold its annual Pro Day tomorrow, March 16. Given the state of the NFL and the lockout between owners and players, it is unclear how many scouts will be on hand. Last year, all 32 teams were represented in Holuba Hall to watch some of Penn State's graduating class and other recent players perform drills.

This year, seniors Brett Brackett, Chris Colasanti, Bani Gbadyu, Cedric Jeffries, Lou Eliades and Colin Wagner have been working with Penn State speed coach Jeremy Scott. It is unclear whether these six are the only players that plan to work out for scouts tomorrow, or whether any other players will be involved.

Evan Royster and Stefan Wisniewski participated in the NFL combine last month, and will not be working out tomorrow. Former QB Daryll Clark tweeted that he will not be allowed to participate in this year's Pro Day because he is not a member of the 2011 draft class, apparently due to NFL lockout rules.

Finally, there are unconfirmed reports that the start of Penn State's spring practice will be delayed until Saturday, March 19, due to the men's basketball team's game against Temple in Tuscon on Thursday (though a win against Temple would mean the team would play again on Saturday). If and when these reports are confirmed, we will update the story.

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