Lion Trio Working Out at Big 33

The annual Big 33 Classic kicks off Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. The teams from Ohio and Pennsylvania practiced Tuesday under oppressively hot and humid conditions in preparation from the game. Three future Nittany Lions figure heavily into Pennsylvania coach Bob Palko's plans to end Ohio's two-year winning streak.

HERSHEY, Pa. — Sean Lee, Knowledge Timmons and Kevin Kelly will suit up in Blue and White for the Lions this fall, but all three are taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in this year's Big 33 Classic. From brief observations of both teams, the game appears to be a good matchup, with the Pennsylvania squad showing more talent than expected. There is no spectacular quarterbacking tandem, as was the case in 2004 when Chad Henne and Anthony Morelli suited up for the Pa. team, and future Lion Justin King along with Kyle Newell of Bethlehem Catholic are not available to play for Pa. due to commitments to their respective colleges.

Sean Lee looked impressive in the inside linebacker spot. He was described by one Big 33 staffer as a clone of Paul Posluszny at this stage of his career. Quick, with a good sense for the ball, Lee never seemed surprised, and never found himself out of position during the brief scrimmages run in Tuesday's practices. He stepped up to a leadership role on the Pa. defense, several times stepping in front of and settling down the defensive linemen and reminding them of the seriousness of the game. Lee demonstrated intensity on every play, and his performance seemed instinctive and did not require coaching in order to know where he needed to be and what he needed to do.

In combination with other favorable reports on Lee from workouts at Penn State, and from his performance at Upper St. Clair High, it is apparent he should add quality depth to a talented linebacking corps at Penn State that is already evoking echos of past greatness at "Linebacker U."

Intense is the one word that can best describe Kevin Kelly. During practice Tuesday evening at Hersheypark Stadium, Kelly was automatic on field goal attempts up to about 40 yards. Palko showed his confidence in Kelly by lining up the team for a 55-yard attempt. On the first try, the ball traveled seven yards and exploded off the back of the center's helmet, providing one of the day's lighthearted moments. Kelly pulled the second try at 55 yards wide left, but moments later atoned for that by dropping the next kick neatly over the crossbar.

Though small in stature, Kelly demonstrated a lot of leg strength and a solid work ethic. Following the special teams portion of practice, he remained hard at work, driving kick after kick through the stadium uprights while the remainder of the team worked through their portion of the practice. He also demonstrated a strong talent for punting, delivering several solid 40-plus-yard kicks and a pair of very well-placed corner kicks on short punting drills.

On observation: Kelly seems to have the physical talent and mental intensity needed for success at Penn State, and with no proven place-kicker on the Nittany Lion roster, he has the best chance of any incoming freshman to make an immediate impact on the fortunes of Paterno's troops.

Knowledge Timmons as expected is the fastest player on the Pennsylvania squad and is consistently the quickest down the field in kick coverage drills. Timmons' speed appears effortless, and he is slotted as a defensive back for the Big 33 game and projected in the defensive backfield at Penn State. Timmons' limited exposure to organized football is evident however in that his raw talent is somewhat unpolished, and his football instincts are not as refined as some players who have more on-field experience.

Nowhere was this more evident than on a kickoff return drill in which Timmons streaked down the right side of the field and put himself in position to make an excellent defensive play on Wisconsin-bound Jerry Butler of George Washington High. Butler juked right, then exploded left around a frozen Timmons, then took the opportunity to jaw back at Knowledge, "I know you're fast, but you have to accelerate, man."

More than many players on the team, Timmons required the additional coaching to pick up on what was expected of him, and he rotated at DB with Jordan Mitchell of Central Dauphin High. The coaching staff is high on Timmons for his raw potential, but observation suggests that Timmons will likely require a season as a redshirt at Penn State to fully grasp his role with the defensive backfield.

Saturday's game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. We will have more coverage from Hershey throughout the week.

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