Ask the Staff: Fight on Statements

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

psufan202 Asks: I remember that Penn State was really high on Chris Bell. My question is, are we still recruiting Bell hard and does he still have an interest in Penn State?

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: PSU is still recruiting Bell and he is still interested in the Nittany Lions. He is planning on camping at University Park, so I'm sure they'll put the full-court press on him. The last time I looked we had him favoring Miami and USC, but neither had offered.

SlayerPSU Asks: Are former PSU players allowed to participate in drills, teaching techniques, watching and analyzing film with the current players? If so, are any of them actually doing this right now and why isn't this a regular and stronger endeavor?

Mark Harrington Answers: Penn State's staff has used the tactic of bringing in former players more over the past few seasons. Nittany Lion greats in the NFL like LaVar Arrington, Anthony Adams, Bryan Scott and Brandon Short have visited with players, discussed technique and even worked out with them.

This past April's Blue-White Game honored the 1994 undefeated team, which provided a great excuse to assemble Lion legends like Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter, Kyle Brady, Marco Rivera and Bobby Engram, among others, made the trek to Happy Valley for the reunion, but also set aside time to have discussions with the squad on technique, practice approaches, workouts and game preparation. So this is a practice which Penn State is starting to embrace more and more, although the PSU staff should consider using the tactic even more given the positive impact it can have.

SlayerPSU Asks: Jared Odrick is supposedly PSU's number one defensive priority. What position is Penn State looking for Odrick to be in? Which position do you think he is best suited for and which one will he probably end up at? Does he have a strong interest in us? Thanks.

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: Penn State is recruiting Odrick as a defensive end. Personally, I think he'll make a lot of money in this game someday, but as an offensive tackle. Odrick is interested in Penn State still.

NWNittany Asks: What's the current wisdom on where King fits in on defense – at corner or nickel? Do you think the staff would consider moving Anwar [Phillips] back to nickel where he's had success both in coverage and blitzing, and putting King on the outside?

Mark Harrington Answers: Justin King's speed and route-running are described by observers as "the best raw talent seen at Penn State since LaVar Arrington." Having said that, the staff is concerned with applying too much pressure on him too early, so the early use of his skills may be based on the greatest need – offense. However, he still could see limited two-way action, which would likely place him at the nickel, a position he is "well suited for" with limited practice time. I would be surprised if he unseats Anwar Phillips at corner this early on, but if he shows he can handle the pressure and added snaps he has raw talent to.

Mark Brennan Answers: Joe Paterno and staff want to see how the rest of the incoming rookie wideouts (other than Derrick Williams and King) look before deciding where King will contribute this fall. My guess: He'll play receiver and also cornerback. Phillips will start games at corner. When PSU goes nickel, Phillips will switch there with King moving in at corner.

Erv66 Asks: It seems every year a prospect that is highly rated early loses steam later in the year even before the season starts. This year John Maddox seems to fit in that mold. Has his performances in camps hurt his status or have others just stepped up to get recognition? Is he a solid prospect still? What really influences critics during this judgment time prior to any games being played?

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: Basically it all comes down to evaluations. Other people had him as one of the top players in the nation early but they must not have seen the rest of the state. Maddox is a solid football player, he has great hands. He has run a little slower then some would like, but he'll be fine in the end.

SafeHaven Asks: With Ed Johnson out of the picture and assuming Shaw and Shipley will not return to D, are there any other linemen on our roster that, in your opinion, could be legitimately considered for movement from the O side to D to shore up depth there?

Mark Harrington Answers: Given the concerns around the offensive line, I am skeptical that the unit has the luxury to allow any major players to shift over to the defensive side of the ball. If I had to pick one I would likely point to Charles Rush given his defensive skills out of high school and the fact he has not been the "head turner" on offense the staff expected. He could add some needed depth to the defensive line, but I am also not a big fan of shifting guys over during their final year of eligibility. I could also see Rich Ohrnberger possibly shifting over.

Mark Brennan Answers: Rush and Levi Brown played together at left guard and tackle, respectively, all of last season and all spring. Given the question marks everywhere else on the line following "Arrow-gate," there is no way the staff breaks up that tandem. I agree that we could see redshirt freshman Rich Ohrnberger getting a look on defense.

petek Asks: A very respected poster on the free board basically said that Jeremiah Hunter is overrated and didn't really care if we got him. Bob, comments?

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: Everyone has varying opinions. Personally, I like him. Of course I've seen him play. The most impressive thing about Hunter is watching him in pass coverage. I saw him at the Elite College Combine covering LeSean McCoy like glue.

erv66 Asks: I've read an article recently on J.B. Walton. I also know that Bob had some criticism for him concerning his camp performance here at Nike, which was an eye-opener. Bob, would you say Penn State should be happy that Walton has them in his top 5, or that Walton should be happy he has around 40 offers? Bob, who would be your top five picks that PSU is recruiting for the OL?

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: Walton looks decent on film; my concerns were from the Elite College Combine, when he appeared to not want to compete, which was noticed by several coaches as well. When prospects tell you they have 40 offers, you kind of have to take it with a grain of salt. It could be true, but it may not be. I'm not saying the kid is lying, but sometimes when you see a kid things just don't add up. He would not be in my top five of linemen that PSU is recruiting, but maybe they see something I don't. I know other recruiting guys are high on him.

CarolinaDave Asks: Any word on what Rolle thought of his visit to York? Is he still really high on OU and Michigan?

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: Jamie Newberg is supposed to be trying to get in touch with Rolle for a story soon – stay tuned.

erv66 Asks: It has been obvious Deon Butler is impressing many of the coaches, including Joe Paterno. Has there been talk of him earning a scholarship, being that he is a walk-on? When and who was the last walk-on that earned a scholarship at PSU? I'm guessing it was a center we had not so long ago, whose name eludes me.

Mark Harrington Answers: Yes, there was talk back in the spring that Butler would likely earn a scholarship if he kept up his level of play. Butler turned down scholarships offers from Wake Forrest and Akron to walk on at PSU. There have been several walk-ons recently who have earned scholarships. Among them are Robbie Gould, Matt Kranchick, Rich Gardner, Casey Williams and Mike Lukac. The center you are likely thinking of is Joe Iorio.

Mark Brennan Answers: As an interesting aside, two of the last four Nittany Lions to be taken in the NFL draft both arrived on campus as walk-ons: Gardner and Kranchick.


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