NITTANY NOTES: Taking the Lead Part II

As spring practice progresses, see who is stepping into the leadership roles on the Penn State defense. Get the lowdown in our exclusive Nittany Notes.

STAFF NOTE: For this report we have gathered the opinions of a wide range of practice observers. We asked them to vote on which players they see as the leaders of the Penn State football team this spring. Previously we reviewed the leaders on offense. Now we take a look at the defense.

THE SCENE: Although the PSU defense lost a few veterans to graduation (Ollie Ogbu, Bani Gbadyu, Chris Colasanti), the prevailing sentiment is that the Nittany Lion defenders have a strong base of experienced leadership in the unit. It is interesting that four of these players made our leadership survey a year ago.

Here is a review of the players on defense who have been stepping into the leadership roles.

THE LOWDOWN

We asked each observer to vote for their top three leaders on defense. We also included quotes from different observers as to why they made their selections. The percentage number next to each name reflects the percentage of observers we spoke with who named the player among their top three leaders on offense.

Michael Mauti, LB: 92 percent - "Mauti is the type of leader you need to succeed; he leads by example, but can also be a vocal guy. I know he's a junior, but I think he'll be a captain." Mauti's dedication through adversity with injuries is also pointed to as a major factor in his leadership. "He doesn't whine or pity himself, he just does what he needs to and is back stronger. I love the guy."

D'Anton Lynn, DB: 83 percent - Lynn is player with "quiet confidence." Observers point to him questioning whether PSU was right for him early on, but say he came back, and "immersed himself in the program." Lynn is a "smart, savvy player. He may not be the fastest or strongest guy (in the secondary), but he doesn't let that hurt his ego."

Drew Astorino, DB: 58 percent - "It seems like Drew has been in the program for a decade," one observer said. "He's been a mainstay for the defense for years." Astorino is not necessarily a vocal leader, but he's a guy who will "work with the younger players to get them up to speed and make them better."

Devon Still, DT: 42 percent - Still has "come into his own," learning from guys like Jared Odrick and Ogbu. "He's assumed the lead role from them and is playing more disciplined. I think he's matured quite a bit." Still can be "pretty intense" and "get on guys" and "could be one of those driving forces to light a fire."

Nick Sukay, DB: 25 percent - Although Sukay's been held out of contact with the pectoral tear, he's "been right there with the secondary." He is drilling now but not scrimmaging. Sukay missed the second half of last season with the pec injury but still tried to help others in the secondary improve. As one observer said, "You learn a lot from guys when they are out; do they step back and just hang out or are they in the drills helping guys?" Sukay is a fairly reserved player, but some feel his focus on helping the unit will aid in the defense's leadership needs.

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