Mark Brennan/FOS

Penn State Spring Practice Quick Hitters

Our premium takeaways from the open portion of the Nittany Lions' eighth session of the spring.

Our quick hitters from the open portion of Penn State’s Wednesday practice.

• They were outdoors. Full pads. There were a TON of people there because of some Facebook contest or something. This was practice No. 8 of 15.

• Whenever I’ve seen him this spring, backup QB Tommy Stevens has impressed. He had a nice short TD throw right when we got there that went to redshirt freshman WR Dae'lun Darien. He also had a terrific run on a read-option where everyone on defense thought RB Andre Robinson had the ball. Stevens looks REALLY quick for someone who is a legit 6-foot-4. And there is no hesitation in what he is doing, like we saw last spring. He really seems to have a handle on this offense.

• It was mostly the second-team O-line in there when we were there. Expect for LT, which was initially starter Ryan Bates. I was wondering what was up. Then I realized true freshman Mike Miranda was right beside Bates, at LG. No better way for the young guy to learn than by getting reps next to the best O-lineman on the team. In talking to Bates afterward, he said the key for Miranda is getting heavier and stronger. PSU has Miranda listed at 295 but I think he might be a bit lighter than that.

• After Bates finished up his interviews, I called him aside and asked what he weighted. He said 315. I asked what he weighed when he arrived at Penn State. He said 265.

• Darien’s TD catch was really nice. We can’t get into formations and stuff. But CB T.J. Johnson seemed to have good coverage and Darien made the catch on what I think was a post (was tough to tell while shooting). They tumbled into the end zone and fellow WR Irvin Charles was immediately signaling touchdown before the two players were even untangled. LB Cam Brown came back and tried to knock the ball out of Darien’s hand as he was standing up (long after the play was over). Darien was palming it in one hand and playing keep-away. Kind of funny. 

• Backup TE Jonathan Holland had a nice catch in traffic when we were there, too.

• Keep an eye on redshirt freshman DT Antonio Shelton. He has really good size (300-plus) and appeared to be moving well in there at the one technique. 

• The second-team ‘backers, as we reported earlier, were Brandon Smith in the middle, Brown at outside box and Jarvis Miller at field.

• They were only thud tacking. And the third-team linebackers were in by this point. But Robinson had a nice bolt right up the gut for an 8-yard TD. 

• QB Jake Zembiec tried a quick out to one of the deep reserves at receiver. DT Tyrell Chavis tipped it. Chavis got up in the air a little. Might have been a good thing for Zembiec because S Garrett Taylor had the receiver well covered and could have been in position for a pick.

• Speaking of Taylor, he definitely looks thicker after making the move to safety from corner. They list him at 200 pounds now, which seems about right.

• Punt return guys were Mark Allen, DeAndre Thompkins, Lamont Wade, K.J. Hamler (no pads, just a helmet) and Josh McPherson. They were only fielding punts, not going against any coverage. So it was tough to judge anything. I did not see an blatant drops or anything, though. Wade looked really comfortable back there.

• LB Jake Cooper and TE Nick Bowers were both in full pads. But their practice gear seemed mighty clean.

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