In December, when it appeared there might be a coaching change at PSU, we felt it best to hold off on the reports. Then, when the change happened and was followed quickly by the run-up to Signing Day, there was so much other news going on and we were not sure if all of the redshirts would stick with the program.
But now, with spring practice set to begin Monday, things seems to have settled down. So let's go ahead and dive into the reports, starting with the offense:
Hamilton did very little last year after recovering from surgery on his left hand/wrist. He enrolled at Penn State last summer, and after complaining that his wrist was bothering him, was examined by team doctors. The exact nature of the injury has not been made public, but it was significant enough to require surgery (which took place July 12). At PSU's recent open workout, Hamilton was still not full go and was wearing a heavy wrap on his left wrist. It will be interesting to see what -- if anything -- he is able to do in the spring.
Late last season, former coach Bill O'Brien mentioned Mahon as a redshirt freshman to watch in 2014. At 6-4, 305, Mahon has impressed in the weight room, dead-lifting in the neighborhood of 500 pounds. Brute force is a strength, but fundamentals are an area where he must improve. He worked at guard and center on the foreign team last season and will likely get a look at both spots in the spring. With Ty Howle gone, PSU needs a new starting center, and Angelo Mangiro, Wendy Laurent and Mahon are in the mix. Since making the line calls is a big part of the center's job, the youngster Mahon would seem to have a better shot of getting the nod at the vacant guard spot.
O'Brien talked up Nelson often last season. He was good enough to start, according to our observers. His footwork and fundamentals were that advanced for a true freshman. But since he was not head and shoulders above seniors Adam Gress and Garry Gilliam, the staff decided to redshirt him to allow him to get even stronger. He's a legit 6-5 and weighs 297 now, so there is still room to grow. His long build seems to mesh well with new coach James Franklin's idea of the ideal body type for an offensive tackle. He is very athletic for his size. It will be a surprise to us if he doesn't end up starting opposite left tackle Donovan Smith in 2014.