Yet the buzz around the current recruiting class typically overshadows the news about these redshirt freshmen. So we thought this was the perfect time to remind people about the terrific prospects who are already on campus working out with the team.
A.Q. Shipley: Shipley was a standout on both sides of the ball at Moon Area High in western Pennsylvania. In order to determine the best fit for him, the staff reportedly had A.Q. (left, Shipley family) run reps at both guard and center on the offensive line this past season. Though the feeling seems to be that he would make a solid offensive lineman, Shipley did not display the energy or intensity he had on the defensive side of the ball. He simply did not seem to have the same level of interest to play on the offensive line as he has shown on the defensive side of the ball.
According to observers, Shipley loves playing defense and appropriately was moved back to nose tackle. He has been described as "awesome" and "powerful." His leverage off the snap allows him to "bully his way into the pocket." This leverage of Shipley's has been compared by some observers to the ability Anthony Adams displayed while at the tackle position at Penn State.
The consensus among observers is that Shipley has a good shot to break into the two-deep at nose tackle next season.
Dontey Brown: Brown has seen the majority of snaps with the linebacker this past season unit and reportedly seems set there, at least heading into the off-season. He is said to have an excellent build and "carries his size well" on pass rushes. Brown (right, McKeesport High) is described as aggressive and said to be "quick and nimble" off the snap.
His particular strength is apparently his instinct in chasing down the ball. He reads development of plays well. Though some comparisons have been drawn between Brown and Brandon Short, who both went to McKeesport (Pa.) High, observers we spoke to feel that it would be premature to put the redshirt freshman in the same class as the current NFL veteran.
Josh Gaines: Gaines has had most of his reps at the defensive end spot this past season. The sentiment of some observers is that although he is quick and intense at applying pressure on the pocket, at 6-foot-2, 260, he lacks the height for the end position. One observer speculated that Gaines (left, Northrop High) might eventually shift over to the linebacker unit.
Gaines reportedly has a strong tackling technique and "plays all out" on every down. He is also said to be intense in the huddle. But his frame may not be long enough for him to be an effective end.
Tyrell Sales: Sales' time this past season was reportedly focused at the linebacker position. The consensus is that he has the foundation to be a solid contributor on defense. It has also been said Sales (right, Playbook Archives) is not as aggressive as Brown, but he has a solid set of instincts in practice.
Observers we spoke with about Sales feel he can benefit from some added size and strength and the winter conditioning will be a critical determination in what kind of impact he has in the spring and during the 2005 season.
There has been discussion about Tyrell possibly moving to defensive end, but given his size (6-2, 235), that shift was not made this past season.