With Penn State wrapping up its second week of spring practice and over 50 percent of drills complete, FightOnState.com updates who's impressed observers recently and supplies other details from program observers.
With the second week of practice in the books and the 2006 edition of spring practice more than halfway complete, here is a rundown of notes from this week:
One of the young players who continually receives praise for his performance in drills is redshirt freshman wide receiver James McDonald. Friday, he received even more praise, with an observer saying, "Although James is not the fastest guy among the wideouts, his play is sweet — he makes nice catches, runs good routes and has great, great hands."
Dontey Brown has been making plays this week and has moved up to the number two spot at middle linebacker on the depth chart, behind Tim Shaw. "Brown is looking better. He is making good plays," an observer shared. When asked how he compares to redshirt freshman Jerome Hayes, an observer explained, "Hayes has more athleticism, but Brown has had more time in the program to get the position down." Another observer said Brown is more "polished" than Hayes at this point. The coaches have been impressed with Hayes but want him to play "more disciplined."
Despite the talk of incorporating a 3-4 defensive scheme, the defense has still yet to run it in matchup drills. The Lions have run some drills that would prepare them for playing a 3-4, but "they were just fundamental drills on reads, reactions and pursuits."
The first team offensive line continues to be:
LT: Chris Auletta
LG: Gerald Cadogan
C: A.Q. Shipley
RG: Robert Price/Greg Harrison
RT: John Shaw
Shipley has "really stepped up" at center and "is a lineman who will punch anyone in the mouth." As the senior leader of the unit, the coaches have had Levi Brown sitting out of the majority of drills (Auletta is in his place) to give the younger linemen first-team work. Brown is expected to be starting left tackle this season, protecting Anthony Morelli's weak side. Harrison continues to push Price at right guard and "is seeing more and more first-team reps."
The running back situation has seen Tony Hunt sitting out of the bulk of snaps this week to help him recover from his high ankle sprain. This has set the three deep at tailback as:
RB: Austin Scott, Rodney Kinlaw, Matt Hahn
Scott "looks great." According to an observer, "Last year he looked a step slower. This year he looks like re-gained that step and has shown nice power on his runs." Hahn "is good" and is getting comfortable in the third spot. Derrick Williams also continues to see "an ocassional snap from the backfield."
Mark Rubin continues to see his snaps at the safety position. "He's getting used to it, but it's clear it's not his natural spot," another observer shared.
The team has been "fortunate" with injuries. Currently Hunt, Nick Pincheck, Navorro Bowman and Brennan Coakley are sidelined.
Want to keep up to speed with Penn State football throughout the off-season, including complete coverage of spring ball, junior recruiting and the NFL Draft? Subscribe to a Fight On State Total Access Pass now at this link.