NITTANY NOTES: Hard Hitting

The Nittany Lions began Easter Weekend by cracking heads in a scrimmage. It was the first action of the spring that involved referees.

Before taking a short break for Easter, the Penn State football team held an important practice late Friday afternoon. Check out our quick hitters below.

• The team scrimmaged on the outdoor practice field. For the first time this spring, referees were used.

• All three of the primary QBs saw first-team reps. The order went: Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden, Paul Jones. None seemed to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack.

• CB Derrick Thomas was back in action after not being on hand during the open portion of Wednesday's practice.

• Among those players dressed in workout gear (but not full pads) were defensive backs Adrian Amos and Curtis Drake, linebacker Khairi Fortt, and running back Bill Belton. None appear to be seriously injured.

• The first-team offensive line of tackles Mike Farrell and Adam Gress, guards John Urschel and Miles Dieffenbach, and center Matt Stankiewitch is starting to gel. It still has its hands full at times with a No. 1 defensive line that returns significant experience. But the offensive line did some of its best work in goal-line situations, opening holes for at least three touchdowns.

• Backup guard Eric Shrive is also starting to see time with the first-team offensive line.

• Redshirt freshman defensive end Deion Barnes continues to impress. Observers say his combination of athletic ability and length can make him a game-changer at the position. He had a touchdown off a turnover Friday.

• Redshirt sophomore running back Zach Zwinak had one of the best runs of the session. He blasted through the line and had a big collision with safety Jake Fagnano. The run was a 15-yarder (or so), but his quickness through the line and then toughness in taking on the safety head on opened the eyes of everyone watching the action.

• Fagnano, who has been running first team at strong safety, was impressive during the scrimmage. At least one source thinks the walk-on is extremely underrated among fans.

• Backup safety Tim Buckley, a redshirt freshman walk-on, had a couple of big hits in the scrimmage before leaving the field with an unspecified injury.

• There were a lot of high school coaches on hand. Just another example of new coach Bill O'Brien and his staff doing the little things to help recruiting. Speaking of which…

• One visitor of note was lineman Sam Mustipher of Good Counsel High in Olney, Md. He is a Class of 2014 prospect. He measured in at 6-foot-3, 280 pounds at the Nike All-American Combine.


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