Ask the Staff: Fight On Statements

Welcome to the first installment of Fight On Statements, where premium members ask questions on the Total Access Board — questions about Penn State players and prospects, the coaches and conference, and everything in between — and the staff answers.

1. Natty Asks: Did Joe [Paterno] go out on the road during the May evaluation period?

Mark Harrington Answers: Though there were reports that Joe Paterno made trips to Maryland and Pittsburgh, sources within the program indicate that he has not traveled extensively during the evaluation period this year.

2. PennStateFan33 Asks: During the recap of Coach Vanderlinden's speaking engagement to the alumni club, he talked about how hard JoePa is working this spring to recruit. If he isn't on the road, what else could he be doing?

Mark Harrington Answers: Paterno has been spending a lot of his time focused on evaluating prospect film and refining the staff's recruiting strategy and tactics. Although he has not been on the road a lot in May he has also been making a lot of calls and writing personal letters to recruits. NCAA rules mandate that a program may only have seven coaches traveling for recruiting purposes each week. This May the Penn State staff has primarily had Ron Vanderlinden, Tom Bradley, Larry Johnson, Jay Paterno, Brian Norwood, Mike McQueary and Bill Kenney traveling to visit prospects. Last season, Paterno made several trips to visit prospects in Maryland, New York, Connecticut and throughout Pennsylvania.

Mark Brennan Answers: This lack of travel business seems an indication of the confidence Paterno has in certain members of his staff, including McQueary, the second-year recruiting coordinator. Wonder if that trust will come into play with a certain second-year offensive coordinator next fall?

3. Safe Haven Asks: In regards to [Spencer] Ridenhour and [Paul] Cronin, is there anything substantive that would indicate their move from S to OLB is definite? I know "things can and will change," but if these two are going to make the switch to LB they certainly should know by now (ie. adding "good weight " over the summer).

Mark Harrington Answers: Spencer Ridenhour has been with the linebackers since last season and continued to see his practice reps at outside linebacker through spring practice, running with the third team primarily and backing up Paul Posluszny and J.R. Zwierzynski. In fact, he saw significant action in the Blue-White Game, tallying seven tackles, which tied for game-high honors.

We spoke to Ridenhour about his position recently and he explained, "I have been practicing with Coach Vandy and am confident he will get me in the shape of a linebacker." There have been rumblings that he will get a possible look at safety or H-back. However, given his current slate of reps and the fact he is working closely with Vanderlinden, there is no substantial evidence to indicate he is expected to permanently shift to either position and away from linebacker.

4. Bleedblu Asks: Which underclass offensive lineman is likely to have the most impact on the 2005 season and why (Shipley, Shaw, Cadogan, Orhnberger or Harrison)?

Mark Harrington Answers: Given his sheer size and athleticism and the fact he is improving with his snaps, that honor is likely to go to A.Q. Shipley. The center position has some questions marks surrounding it with the status of E.Z. Smith and the abilities of Lance Antolick. These questions could easily be answered by Shipley, who has embraced his position after initially dreading a move from defense to offense. Gerald Cadogan and Greg Harrison also had solid springs, but Shipley seems like the likely leader of that pack.

Mark Brennan Answers: I knew Harrington would eventually come around on Shipley as an offensive lineman. I think Shaw has a chance to make some things happen this year, too. The rest of the people you mention have a chance to emerge as impact linemen in 2006 and beyond.

5. Bleedblu Asks: Which incoming freshman (besides D$ or JK) is going to positively impact the 2005 Season and why (Sargeant, Hayes, Timmons, etc.)?

Mark Harrington Answers: Probably not the "sexy" answer you are looking for, but this honor is likely to go to either Kevin Kelly or Matthew Waldron. With a lackluster spring kicking game, the Lions need a solid kicker to come in and give them a special teams advantage. Fortunately, Penn State has two solid kickers coming in with these two freshmen who will battle it out this summer.

Others to keep an eye on are Lydell Sargeant, who the Lions may need if the receiving game struggles, and Jerome Hayes, who insiders feel will likely not red-shirt. Sargeant has size, speed and hands to be a threat in the slot or backfield. Plus he is a smart player who has an aggressive style of play. Hayes has the size to step in and add even more depth to the linebacker unit, but he is most likely to make an early impact on special teams, with his ability to deliver scary hits.

Mark Brennan Answers: If I had to pick one player here, it would be Kelly. He has the strong leg and confidence needed to succeed as a rookie.

6. Joe9195: Why is Penn State recruiting two quarterbacks this year given how many they just recruited?

Mark Harrington Answers: If you look at 2006 season, when the players PSU is recruiting now will be true freshmen, the Lions will have Paul Cianciolo (three years left), Anthony Morelli (two years left) and Paul Suhey (three years left). Assuming State gets Brett Brackett, who has committed to the Lions, and one other QB, they could redshirt their freshman year, making 2007 their first year, leaving a senior Morelli and juniors Cianciolo and Suhey. This is not a bad approach considering that in 2008 the Lions would have only two upperclassmen quarterbacks, so they need some depth for the position. Daryll Clark may also be in the mix at QB, but as of this writing he had yet to qualify, so the staff must make contingencies in case it does not happen.

Mark Brennan Answers: Another reason to target two QBs is because this is a good year for them, especially in Pennsylvania. Given that Suhey and Clark are both capable of playing other positions, it makes sense to stock up on passers and sort out the particulars later.

7. Lrja 26 Asks: Outside of McEowen & Maddox (and possibly Odrick & Devlin), is PSU in good shape with any other of the top 20 kids in PA?

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: I see them having a better shot at LeSean McCoy than most people think they do. Larry Johnson has impressed him. L.J. is turning into a force on the recruiting scene. He's gaining a lot of respect nationally. McCoy was very impressed with his visit to Penn State. There are not a lot of kids in Pennsylvania's top 20 (beyond the ones you mention) that they appear to be actively recruiting.

8. SafeHaven Asks: Who's "actively" recruiting Da'Rel Scott for PSU (or aren't we)? Any evidence of a written offer being extended?

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: Da'Rel is consumed with track right now and he will be until after this weekend. I spoke with his mother Thursday night and she said he's getting some interest, but he's focused on rack right now. We will speak with Da'Rel next week to find out more about his recruitment and Penn State's involvement.

9. Bigslu Asks: Wondering where you think LeSean McCoy, Sam Young and Myron Rolle will end up. I know it is impossible for you to know for sure, so I am asking for your best guess on this trio. Does PSU have a real good chance at landing these guys. Thanks guys. Keep up the good work.

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: McCoy could surprise and end up at one of the two in-state schools (Pitt or Penn State). Young I see going to PSU, Michigan or one of the Big 3. Rolle I see headed to Michigan, PSU or Oklahoma.

Want to ask a question of the FOS team for Fight On Statements? You can do so in the thread on our premium message board if you click here.


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