Redshirt Watch: Part I

With signing day nearly upon us, the eyes of the Nittany Nation have been focused on the Class of 2006. However, there is another group of prospects who have yet to see the field, but essentially have a head start on the incoming class — the redshirt freshmen.

Redshirt freshmen are essentially a second recruiting class who have been kept under wraps since they stepped on campus last summer. Given that these players have not had the opportunity to contribute and have had a year to brush up their skills, there should be a lot of excitement around them. Yet the buzz around the current recruiting class typically overshadows the excitement around these redshirt freshmen.

We have received periodic progress reports on the redshirts throughout the 2005 season from practice observers. Here are some updates on a few of the redshirts who reportedly have made impressive strides this past season in conditioning and practice. You may want to keep an ear out this coming off-season for any buzz around these players and their progress.

And stay tuned to FOS over the next two weeks for updates on other redshirt freshmen.

Chris Baker: Baker, a 6-foot-2, 307pound, 4.95-second 40 lineman has been described by observers as "big," "physical," "athletic" and "powerful." Baker focused this past season on his fundamentals coming out of his stance and using his body to leverage and "work over" assignments.

As one observer explained, "Chris' size and power help him to overrun assignments, but with better technique coming out of his stance and more effective use of his hands he can provide consistent pocket pressure."

Baker saw the majority of his reps on the scout team at defensive tackle. The trait that most observers consistently raved about was his attitude. "Chris plays with a chip on his shoulder," an observer shared. "He does some talking out there but he plays with the attitude that he is hands down better than the other guy he going against."

Daryll Clark: The 6-2, 222-pound Clark has received rave reviews out of practice this year for his athleticism. Described as "an athletic specimen," "a beast" and "ripped," he is said to be in the best shape physically among the other quarterbacks.

Clark is a duel threat quarterback in the mold of Michael Robinson. He is strong, runs hard and is not afraid to put a hit on a defender. According to one observer, "He is going to shock some of the defensive guys when he plows them over in practice during the off-season."

It was Clark who played the role of Troy Smith on the scout team the week prior to Ohio State and "he played Troy Smith better than Troy Smith did," according to one observer.

He is not as fast as Robinson but he is elusive. He tends to "try to do too much at times" and makes "sloppy decisions." Earlier in the season he looked to run first and pass second, but he improved in this aspect over the course of the season. He needs to work on not forcing the ball to his receivers, but has improved on adding touch to his passes.

Dennis Landolt: At 6-4, 285 pounds, Landolt turned heads in practice this past year. "He is big, but is also quick and athletic," one observer explained. "He plays aggressive and consistently goes all out in drills."

A standout wrestler, Landolt was asked to wrestle for Penn State, but respectfully declined, stating he is exclusively a football player now. Though there is debate around whether he ends up at tackle or guard, observers feel Landolt has the technique and ability to break into the two-deep this off-season.

"He brings an attitude to the line similar to that of [A.Q.] Shipley's," another observer shared.

Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for more redshirt reports in our Redshirt Watch series.

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