Nittany Notebook

Fight On State will periodically post our Nittany Notebook, which is a collection of tidbits, notes and information from the PSU football program, with news on players, positions, coaches and more. This edition features reports on players like Chris Harrell, Justin King, Jordan Lyons, Paul Posluszny, J.R. Zwierzynski and Rich Ohrnberger.

Here are some updates on a variety of players coming out of the winter conditioning sessions as they prepare for the spring practice routine which begins March 28.

Paul Posluszny:

Posluszny continues his reputation of "disciplined dedication" in the weight room. A leader all around when it comes to conditioning, Posluszny has added " a few pounds" and is at about 234. As is the case with Dan Connor, the staff wants Posluszny to grow, but do it methodically. His build is "intimidating" and he has had a stronger focus during the off-season on working his legs, his perceived relative weakness.

Quick in drills, Posluszny is described as nimble and does an excellent job of staying on his toes at all times. His 40 time sits around 4.57 seconds, which is thought to be "excellent for his size." The staff feels that given his increased strength that he will have greater lateral quickness and be a greater threat in coverage. Observers like the prospect of Posluszny as a "devastating blitzing back if [the coaches] unleash him consistently."

Posluszny has great control of his abilities in drills and is more "deliberate" and "patient" with things. We asked what this meant and the reply was, "He is smart. He understands he can lose control of his size or speed. When he runs drills he is very methodical — he is always thinking and has great awareness." He had a tendency to overpurse at times, which he make strides in controlling even more. Posluszny has always been aggressive since he stepped foot on campus, but he appears more disciplined with his aggression. One comment is "He channels it well."

Another interesting comment was, "He has this quiet confidence which has some other players watching him a lot — even off the field. He is very laid back, but almost seems like he could snap at any moment. It's like he flips a switch and a beast emerges. It's kinda cool and scary at the same time [laughing]."

J.R. Zwierzynski:

Zwierzynski has decent size at about 232 pounds. He has the build to be a decent linebacker, but does not have the strength of comparable players at the position like Connor, Shaw or Posluszny. He does well with conditioning, but is not one of those "wow" type of guys in the weight room, although he has improved significantly over the past year or so.

He is quick and has good footwork, which is probably one of his best all-around assets. He carries his size fairly well and has a good, powerful stride. He is not the speediest guy and again trails the projected starters in this area, but can use the speed he has effectively. He has also improved on reads over the course of last season.

The consensus is that his heart seems to be with playing fullback, which has impacted his play at linebacker to some degree. Fullback was his "natural" position in high school and although he never got a real shot at it at PSU he misses the offensive side of things.

Despite this, LB coach Ron Vanderlinden likes him a lot, which will play out well for him this year. He is expected to break into the two-deep this spring. Unseating Connor, Posluszny or Shaw is a long shot, but he will likely fill out the depth chart.

He needs to continue to work on his tackling technique and get his heart into defense more. He must also increase his upper body strength to help with his tackling and ability to wrap up players.

Jordan Lyons:

Lyons has excellent strength and power and a good "sleek" build with solid physique and tone. He's not the strongest tight end in the lot, but that is not to say he does not have the power and strength to provide a good blocking frame and target for the offense.

As for the shoulder injury that forced him to miss most of last season, he is doing well and has recovered fully. He has complete mobility and flexibility with no lingering pain or side effects. He is able to lift and run fine, too.

Lyons has a nice stride and "runs hard." He cuts well and is expected to be solid on crossing routes. He runs well for his size and is nimble all around. He displayed consistency on receptions early last year, prior to his injury, and was impressive enough to see some action.

Again, he is not the flat-out fastest guy, but he is toward the top of the speed rankings. He has enough quickness coupled with his size to be dangerous.

Several observers believe he will end up as the backup tight end to Isaac Smolko heading into and coming out of the spring sessions. He is also expected to play special teams, as well as play the second tight end in two-TE sets. We'll see, but the all-around comments on Lyons have been positive.

Rich Ohrnberger:

This past year on the forieng team, Ohrnberger's strength made him impressive on pass-rushing situations with a consistent ability to wedge himself into the line and disrupt the pocket. On all-around fundamentals he pretty good, with consistent technique off the blocks and the power to apply pressure on the pocket.

At 6-foot-2, 275 pounds he is said to have a "odd size" given that he is a few inches shorter than most of the defensive ends yet outweighs many them by a good 10 to 15 pounds.

On the other hand, if you were to look at him as an offensive tackle he's about three to four inches shorter than most tackles and 10 to 15 pounds lighter. Hence, the "odd" comment about his size.

It is unclear whether he ends up on the offensive or defensive line, although he is penciled in at defensive end currently. He saw snaps on both lines last season, but like A.Q. Shipley was more energized about playing defense than offense.

He has a solid package to work with, but needs to "unleash his aggression to get the most out of his abilities." He has the power to be "great" on either side of the ball.

Justin King:

King's speed has been "amazing" and "consistent." He is quick off the blocks and was recently hand-timed in the 40 at 4.3 seconds. His speed has not disappointed observers who were admittedly skeptical of the hype. He has a strong, powerful stride and "runs with confidence." The concerns about his speed circle around his ability to control it. Folks just want to see him handle it consistently in game speed situations.

Although his size (not height) is a concern for some, others feel that his 6-foot, 170-pound frame, coupled with his speed is a solid combination, adequate enough currently to be an effective corner. Although he has a excellent tone to his physique his overall upper body build is considered to be smaller, but he has the frame to "add to his upper body".

His strength needs improvement overall. His legs are in "good strong shape," but his upper body needs work this offseason to handle the CB position effectively. He needs to work on his arms, shoulders and chest to help him in coverage to handle the pushback from his assignments.

Chris Harrell:

As you may recall, he suffered a neck injury last spring and was redshirted for the 2004 season. This past season and early into the winter the staff was watching him closely and monitoring his progress, and he had no issues. They have "ramped him up to full sets" with his workouts and he is "100 percent and drilling well."

He has good strength and mobility with his neck and shoulders and with no limits on his conditioning or drills. Origninally there was concern that although the injury's pain subsided, that his mobility with his arms and shoulders on strides would be limited. Fortunately, the trainers have found no evidence of this.

There was also concern over whether his speed would suffer due to his reduced training for a good three months. Harrell's speed is "as expected if he hadn't been sidelined." His most recent 40 had him at a "hair over 4.5 seconds."

He is not quite as fast as Alan Zemaitis, but "close."

Harrell "looks comfortable out there" and "is as aggressive as ever." Although the secondary won't see conact for a few weeks, he is anxious to get back to making hits. The staff too wants to see how he does in pads and then with contect. The concern around Harrell is that he manges his aggression and "eases his way back into things."

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