CALLING CARD: FS Malcolm Willis

With a depleted unit, Malcolm Willis provides insight on how the secondary is shaping up for Penn State this spring.

Malcolm Willis reviewed a variety of aspects from spring practice with a focus on the secondary unit. Here's a summary of his comments:

• He views himself as a leader of the secondary. "Really, I'm just trying to go out there every day and get better and prove to the coaches I'm a guy to lead the group." He wants to be "as productive as possible in the spring so I can show the younger guys what they need to do in the coming months to get ready for the season."

• The safety positions are no longer called the hero and free safety, just the strong safety and free safety. He is playing free safety.

• The main difference with the defense is the tempo. In the past, they did a lot of standing around before the snap. Now, it is all about pre-snap movement. "It's a lot of different looks." Things are much faster in practice, too.

• "For the most part, Coach Roof talks to us every day about how aggresive we need to be." If the defense is aggressive in practice, "it leads the offense to be more amped up."

• He was asked if they will play as much cover three as in the past. He said it is still a part of the package but they are doing much more, too. "It's a lot of different looks that we're having to learn under Coach Roof."

• One of the key differences he has noticed with the offense is that the staff is trying to get the ball into the hands of the best athletes "in space." He mentioned Devon Smith, Alex Kenney, Shawney Kersey and Brandon Moseby-Felder. "People being able to get the ball in space and be athletes is really a big difference from the past."

• He said Garry Gilliam and Kevin Haplea seem to be getting more action that the tight ends did in recent years.

• He does not think the injuries to Curtis Drake or Adrian Amos are serious. However, "It definitely hurts a bit to know that guys aren't out there every day on the field so we can get that chemistry." They are in on all the meetings and stuff, though.

• Secondary coach John Butler is very vocal. He'll give a lot of feedback, "whether it's good or bad." One key thing that sticks out to Willis: "He wants us to have fun, and that's the reason we're on the field."

• The entire defensive staff emphasizes creating turnovers every day. They go over it before each practice.

• He said Jake Fagnano has really benefitted from the new strength program. "You can see how it's translated on the field in practice." Overall, he said, players in the secondary have "gotten more explosive than we were in the past."

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