New Name in FB Mix for Lions

Recently, we ran down the fullback situation facing the Nittany Lions headed into spring drills, which start March 28. Despite breaking down the personnel available in the backfield position left vacant by graduating senior Paul Jefferson, we inadvertently excluded one other candidate who will be competing for the role this off-season.

Aside from BranDon Snow, Matt Hahn, Dan Lawlor and Jed Hill, the Lions also have Ryan Harford available in the backfield, a 6-foot-2, 242 pound, 4.6/40 fullback from Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor, Pa. According to his father, John Harford, "Ryan transferred during his senior year of high school and got lost on the shuffle."

Originally pursued by a multitude of programs like Boston College, Syracuse and Pitt, Ryan was sidelined with a broken leg during the eighth game of his senior year, thus dropping him off the recruiting radar of most programs.

During his brief senior season he still managed to roll up 900 rushing yards on offense and 40 tackles, three sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on defense, all as a first year member of the ACHS squad. A two way player, Harford was honored as a Pennsylvania first-team AAA selection at linebacker and an All-Catholic League selection at fullback.

Originally looked at by PSU as a linebacker recruit, Ron Vanderlinden approached Harford after his leg injury with a preferred walk-on invitation. According to the elder Harford, "Ryan's dream was to play at Penn State, so he jumped at the offer."

He walked-on at Penn State with the Class of 2004, boasting players like Dan Connor, Greg Harrison and Anthony Morelli. During his time so far at Penn State he has seen a majority of his reps in the backfield at the fullback spot.

Said to have the ability to bench press upwards of 400 pounds, he has done well with his overall conditioning, scoring impressively on the internal testing and even winning some conditioning competitions. He is described as "determined" and "dedicated" in the weight room. As one observer explained, "He works out like he has something to prove."

His father echoes that sentiment saying, "He wants to prove he can play at this level and has set some high goals for himself. He doesn't just want to play, he wants to start -- oh and he wants to be a captain too."

As he went onto explain, "Ryan is a solid all-around athlete with a good work ethic and dedication to everything he does. He lives for sports conditioning and health. He has that rare fire inside him."

Harford is considered to have a solid set of receiving skills and is described as having "the size of [BranDon] Snow with the hands of [Matt] Hahn." He is also called a "versatile backfield player" and has good size and strength and solid all-around skill set. The staff will be watching his ability to set, leverage and hold his blocks this spring.

With the position wide open at this point he is expected to be in the thick of the spring battles and to add depth for the 2005 campaign.

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