NITTANY NOTES: Early Work

News and notes through the opening sessions of Penn State's 2012 football training camp. Get the lowdown on QBs, LBs and more.

It's been a rough run over the past several months for the Penn State football squad. As one observer said, "It's hard for the players to see guys leave, particularly ones who have been here for years. But the good thing is that they now have guys who want to be here."

The first two practices were part of the NCAA-mandated "Acclimatization Period," with helmets, jersey and shorts but no pads.

No on-field practice during the period can be more than three hours long. And there are strict guidelines on the equipment that can be worn during the sessions. During the first two days, only helmets are allowed. On the third and fourth days, helmets and shoulder pads are allowed. From the fifth day on, full pads are allowed.

The Lions have not had contact since the Blue-White Game in April.

The drills have been "fast and furious" compared to years past, when there was more of an inclined pace over several practice sessions. "[The staff] has the team at near full speed for a lot of it, but that is how they do everything now — all out all the time."

Here are some player notes from the early sessions:

• New starting tailback Bill Belton has been "sharp," and "aggressive" with his work so far. He's had extensive work on inside runs and receiving out of the backfield. Belton is running "comfortable" at this point.

• Linebacker Michael Mauti has been very vocal with the defensive unit. He is wearing a heavy brace on the knee he injured last season but running first team at and outside spot. The 'backers have seen impressive work from Mike Hull, who is upward of 230 pounds and is backing up All-Big Ten OLB Gerald Hodges. Hull's emergence has been important given the defection of 2011 backuyp Khairi Fortt. Glenn Carson has been handling much of the MLB reps with Mike Yancich getting in for some work, as well. The staff is looking for the veteran Yancich to be "more aggressive." Redshirt freshman Ben Kline has looked good as a second-team 'backer, as well. • Malcolm Willis is a leader of the secondary at safety and has "improved his jump" on the ball Adrian Amos has seen reps at corner and safety, often switching positions during drills. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong has seen safety reps and has made quite a few "interceptions jumping the route." He saw more time in the early session when fellow safety Jake Fagnano was out with a minor hamstring injury.

Stephon Morris has been a mainstay at cornerback, as expected. Walk-on Jesse Della Valle has been getting a lot of work in at corner, too.

Matt McGloin has had the bulk of the first-team reps under center. He's said to have grater awareness of pocket and has "delivered some nice balls." Paul Jones has been at the helm of the second team. He now checks in at 258 pounds. It seems like that would be too much weight, but he is said to be "carrying it well."

• The team has run a lot of 7-7 drills, which the staff is using to "get used to snap-pass play." It's resulted in quite a few interceptions, but with no running game the staff is looking for the QBs and WRs to make decisions "efficiently."

• With the receivers, Shawney Kersey appears to have stepped up into Justin Brown's spot and has shown "improvement with his fundamentals." Allen Robinson has also has some "strong" early work. "He's showing better routes all around." Alex Kenney is completely healed from offseason surgery and appears to have the inside track on the slot receiver position.

• TE Garry Gilliam has seen a lot of attention in drills and has had a good number of balls thrown his direction, pulling in the bulk of them from the Y position. The staff is also getting freshman Jesse James extended work at the position and seem to like his progress. He has focused on blocking and releases, but seems to be pleasing the staff with his progress.

• At the F-TE, Kyle Carter has been seeing most of the first-team snaps. His "endurance is up" and he's been "more crisp with his cuts."

• The first-team defensive line has been primarily:

DE: Sean Stanley
DT: Jordan Hill
DT: DaQuan Jones
RE: Pete Massaro/Deion Barnes

• On the offensive line the first-team has primarily been:

LT: Adam Gress
LG: Miles Dieffenbach
C: Matt Stankiewitch
RG: John Urschel
RT Mike Farrell

Redshirt freshman Donovan Smith projects as a starting tackle, most likely on the left side, but was slowed early in the week with a hamstring injury.

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