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. In this edition we cover topics ranging from Maurice Evans, Sam Young and Warren Wilson, to the O-Line, JayPa and Greg Harrison.

psufan2020 Asks: Maurice Evans, Daniel Wegner, Sam Young: Do we have a legit shot at landing these three? I saw that we made Young's final seven; do you think Penn State will make his final five and does he have a real interest in Penn State? He always mentions us as recruiting him the hardest but never says much else? As for his teammate, Wegner does he hold an offer from Penn State? There have been conflicting stories on whether he has an offer from us or not. Could he and Young be a package deal? As for Evans, I've read Evans is a beast, what current college D-end does he compare to? Thanks again guys.

Bob Lichtenfel's Answers: Fans often get caught up in these early commitments, but remember, generally Florida kids and kids from the South don't commit early.

According to our Scout network database, Wegner has an offer from Penn State. Most package deals always get talked about, but how many ever actually come to fruition?

Size and athletic ability-wise I would say Evans would be similar to a Shawne Merriman type player at this stage of his career. Merriman is the former Maryland standout.

As for Young, I would say PSU has as good a chance as anyone else, he has mentioned them pretty consistently.

erv66 Asks: In light of losing 3 DEs at season's end and now assuming the transfer rumors of Purcell are true, how many DEs will we be recruiting in this class? Will there be more line juggling this year? Tell me about our current depth at the line spots (who can play DE?).

Bob Lichtenfel's Answers: In terms of recruiting I would say a minimum of two defensive ends, possibly even three, will be in this PSU class.

Mark Harrington Answers: Amani Purcell is transferring (Aloha Amani) which deals a blow to the depth of the defensive end position. With Tamba Hali, Matt Rice and Lavon Chisley set to graduate after 2005, all eyes are on Josh Gaines and Francis Claude. No pressure guys. Gaines has received some stellar reports out of the off-season. Also keep an eye on Ross Muir, who was my walk-on to watch this year. Bottom line is we may need three DEs in this class.

Mark Brennan Answers: I'll throw Jimmy Shaw's name in the mix, too. The transfer becomes eligible this season and is among the strongest players on the team.

Bigslu Asks: Melvin Alaeze and Marques Slocum, I've read that these two did not qualify, and they will both be attending the same prep school (Milford Prep) as Ollie Ogbu. Bob, will PSU be going after these two hard and do you think they have any chance at getting them. Alaeze would be a huge get after Purcell's departure. Thanks.

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: Nothing has been officially announced about Alaeze; everything is pure speculation at this point. Slocum has told his coach he intends on honoring his commitment to Michigan. PSU may try and recruit them, but it's not often these kids change their mind after going to a prep school.

PSUCrusader Asks: Is there any way we could hear a little more about Ogbu? He is such an intriguing prospect, seems like he has monster potential, but I haven't heard a whole lot about him aside from the one interview with his coach. Thanks!

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: At Milford, you have to schedule an interview with him through the school. As soon as we get the opportunity we will do that.

GoPSU05 Asks: Assuming E.Z. Smith is not playing this season, who will be starting on the offensive line? Has Shipley taken the starting center spot? And who will be in the two deep at each OL position?

Mark Harrington Answers: Shipley is getting more consistent with his snaps, which has been his one true weakness at center. Otherwise he has received some nice words of praise. However, being that this is PSU I think we see Lance Antolick start against USF. That is not to say Shipley won't see action though.

As for the two deep, we are working out our projections currently, but I would see it as:

Levi Brown
Chris Auletta
Gerald Cadogan

Charles Rush
Mark Farris
Austin Hinton

Lance Antolick
A.Q. Shipley
Patrick Weber

Robert Price
Greg Harrison
Richard Cheek

John Wilson
John Shaw
Andrew Richardson

Mark Brennan Answers: I get the sense Smith will be back but buried on the depth chart. As for Shipley "taking" the starting job at center, he was running second team at the end of spring practice and the staff has next to no access to summer workouts, so any changes on the depth chart will not happen until preseason practice.

Wvulionatheart Asks: Who are some of the "plan B" type of kids that we will probably offer if we start to lose a few more prospects to other schools? Are they largely in-state kids?

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: I don't think there are a lot of Plan B kids right now for PSU. The staff has a strategy and that's what it is going with. There are a few kids who are receiving interest, enough to keep them interested like Kordell Young, Lou Eliades, etc.

Cletus11 Asks: What is the situation with Greg Harrison? He came in with as big of credentials as just about any recruit besides Connor and Morelli. He came in early so he has an extra spring practice, yet all I heard this latest spring is Cadogen, Hinton and Shipley. Where is he practicing and does he have any chance to break the two-deep or push for some PT this fall.

Mark Harrington Answers: Above I listed out the projected offensive line three deep, putting Harrison at right guard behind Robert Price. Given the solid reports on his technique and overall progress I think he could really make a push for the starting job. He has really developed solid footwork and has adopted a low, wide base. Couple this with his great attitude and he could be a fantastic asset and give the line a significant boost.

hockey9 Asks: A month or so ago, FOS was raving about discovering Warren Wilson and at of the combines. Since that time, nothing. What's the latest on his recruitment — not only at PSU but overall. Is he a sleeper, stud or combine warrior? More importantly, is he coming to PSU?

Bob Lichtenfels Answers: I spoke to Coach Perfield at New Hampton about Wilson and he sent me his film, which is in his profile (see his player link above). The kid is legit, he is a playmaker. I'll get in touch with Wilson and see how his recruitment is going.

Rath Ponies Asks: Plain and simple: Is Jay Paterno such a bad guy? I keep hearing, over and over, that he is not liked by many former and present players. That many boosters have cut back on there contributions because of their dislike for the man. What's the story on this guy?

Mark Harrington Answers: Rath, honestly I can't speak from experience since I don't know Jay Paterno personally. Actually, several players (current and former) have said they really enjoy hanging out with him.

The questions and criticisms seem to circle more around his quarterback coaching abilities though. Folks have seen the issues Zack Mills and Michael Robinson have had and often want an easy resolution so they point to a scapegoat. Whether it is a legitimate gripe honestly remains to be seen. Was Mills' regression due to coaching or the fact he was injured regularly (knee, elbow, shoulder, etc.)? I am not sure exactly.

Mark Brennan Answers: I've dealt with some "bad guys" through the years, and Jay doesn't fall into that department, in my humble opinion. But there is no question that since he became involved in the playcalling (in 2000), the Penn State offense has struggled. Whether that is a product of poor performance on his part or an unworkable system is open for debate.

An easy way to find out? Scrap the the crazy two-man playcalling system and hand over the primary duties to one person — either offensive coordinator Galen Hall or JayPa. I would go with the former. Either way, it would bring a measure of accountability to an offense that has been beyond sad in all but one season since the turn of the century.


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