Harvey Levine/FOS

Penn State's Cothran Starting To Come Up Big

The transplanted defensive end has bulked up and taken over as a starting D-Tackle.

Curtis Cothran's transformation is complete. From defensive end to defensive tackle. From little guy (relatively speaking) to big guy.

And from missing person to starter.

Suspended the first four games of the season for violating a team rule, Penn State’s redshirt junior D-tackle cracked the rotation three games ago and made his first career start in last weekend’s upset of No. 2 Ohio State.

Not a bad debut, that.

Now, of course, it’s time to make another transformation, for him and everybody else — from giant killers to consistent winners, with a game at Purdue coming up Saturday.

“Last week was great,” he said. “Obviously to be able to win over a Big Ten opponent like Ohio State is a great thing, but we have to move on. We’ve got to do what we do. We’ve got to handle our business, and this week is Purdue.”

The Boilermakers are just 3-4, but quarterback David Blough leads the Big Ten in passing yardage (2,065), and has thrown 14 touchdown passes (albeit with 11 interceptions). He also leads the conference in total offense (300.7 yards per game).  http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1721066-great-pen...

Wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey has accounted for 491 yards, seventh-most in the Big Ten, on his 28 receptions. He has five touchdown catches.

Not to be forgotten, either, is the fact that the Lions (5-2) have lost both their road games this season, after dropping their last two in 2015. Their last victory away from home came by a 31-30 score last Oct. 24 against Maryland, in Baltimore. In all they went 1-4 on the road last season. Their last victory at an on-campus site came on Nov. 8, 2014, at Indiana.

In PSU’s favor this week is the fact that the Boilermakers are last in the Big Ten in rushing offense (120.3), total defense (441.0), turnover margin (minus-8) and red-zone offense (15-for-23, 11 touchdowns) and next-to-last in rushing defense (249.0).

Also in Penn State’s favor is the confidence borne of last week’s victory. 

“Back at Michigan (in the 49-10 loss on Sept. 24), a lot of guys were kind of hesitant to make plays,” Cothran said.

Part of that was the spate of injuries that had hit that unit, giving it a crazy quilt look. 

“There were younger players playing spots that they hadn’t played before, so that meant somebody (was) a little hesitant to do things that they needed to be able to do,” Cothran said. “But I feel like now that everybody has gotten playing experience, we’ve been able to mature and grow this year. I feel we’re in a great position.”

The loss to the Wolverines was the last game of his suspension, the last game he served as “almost like an extra coach.” His teammates in the meantime were bucking him up in practice.

“They told me just to keep my head down and keep working,” he said, “and everything will work out. … They all just helped me keep a positive mentality. I’ve always been taught that growing up myself. It’s just that if you keep a positive attitude, everything should work out in the end. Just keep grinding and keep working. … I’ve dealt with other situations in my life where I’ve just had to be patient. This is just another hurdle.”

After redshirting in 2013, Cothran was a backup defensive end the next two seasons, appearing in a single game in ’14 and accumulating 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks while appearing in all 13 last fall. But there was a need inside, and he was tabbed to make the transition. http://www.scout.com/college/penn-state/story/1719381-psu-fans-now-get-s...

That meant piling on the pounds through a few more protein shakes, a few more between-meal snacks.

“I just had to get into that mode of ‘OK, you just have to gain a certain amount of weight each week,’ and then eventually over time it just started to come on,” he said. “Now I’m good.”

Cothran, who has three assisted tackles to date, said he carries between 280 and 285 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame at present, after playing at between 260 and 265 in 2015. But he also had to learn the intricacies of his new position — adjust to taking on double teams, etc.

“It’s definitely more physical inside,” he said.

After a long wait — longer than might have been expected — he completed the transition. In every way.

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