Nittany Notes: LFL Notes

It has been a few days since Penn State's Lift For Life Challenge, where the Nittany Lions competed in a series of strength and conditioning events to raise money for the fight against kidney cancer. While our coverage during and after the event was (and will continue to be) extensive, this is the first chance we've had to cobble together random thoughts in one area.

• There has been a lot of talk about the camaraderie of Penn State's freshman class. It sure seems to be true. The final two groups were all rookies and they spent the entire competition urging each other on. Jared Odrick went earlier in the day and then came back to hang out with his classmates and help them through the competition.

• Several people told us QB Brett Brackett is one of the early surprises of the freshman class. That was meant in no way to demean Pat Devlin, who is fine; but he came with much higher expectations. Brackett was one of the top rookie performers in the competition. Devlin was pulled at the last minute by trainers. Like Aaron Maybin, Brackett is emerging as a vocal leader of the class.

• It is interesting to see the physical transformation Anthony Morelli has made from his freshman year. While not necessarily imposing, he is definitely a big guy and well proportioned for a QB. If he absorbs some punishment early in the season, he seems to have the body needed to survive.

• While on the topic of QBs, Daryll Clark is built more like a linebacker than your prototypical quarterback. That's not to say he can't or won't be a fine QB at Penn State, but rather that of all the serious contenders for playing time at the spot, he and Kevin Suhey are the only ones you can envision playing another position and doing it well. Don't read too much into that. That is simply an opinion.

• We mentioned this on the TAP board Friday, but Donnie Johnson is huge. And it is not just an upper body thing. He was tremendous in the leg curl and leg press. It says something about his dedication to the program. Here is a guy who saw limited playing time in his career and made multiple position changes until finding a home in the secondary last fall. He has one shot to be a starter, and he is clearly making the most of that chance.

• Penn State's offensive linemen did not test particularly well at the team's Pro Day in the spring. That is going to change big time when Levi Brown gets his chance next year. He was practically sprinting with the coaching buddy at one point in LFL, which is no easy feat. He also did well in the weight-lifting events.

• Freshman tight end Andrew Quarless definitely passes the look test. A couple of people told us he has also been a bit of a surprise in the early going, but only because he was not as hyped as some other members of his class.

Kevin Kelly and Jeremy Boone are both impressively strong for their diminutives sizes.

• Former Lion and current San Francisco 49er Anthony Adams did not just stop by to watch LFL; he took several groups through the competition (acting as scorer and spotter).

• LFL typically destroys freshmen. Of the newcomers we saw this year, Odrick, Ollie Ogbu, Chris Bell, Lou Eliades, Brackett and Maybin appeared to be the most prepared to handle the physical challenges. Some of the newcomers REALLY struggled.

• Phil Taylor and Antonio Logan-El did not participate in the event. But they both stopped by to check it out. Taylor is enormous. He has to be 350. While he has a bit of a gut, we would not describe him as fat. In fact, another player reported that he saw Taylor dunk a basketball on a standard 10-foot rim. Veterans have liked what they've seen of Taylor and Logan-El.

• While the sight of Phil Taylor suiting up for Ed DeChellis' PSU hoop team would be interesting, don't expect it to happen. However, multiple people within the football program have said freshman linebacker Navorro Bowman is good enough to be a key contributor on the hoop team if he ever chooses to do so. Until this point, DeChellis has resisted the urge to turn to the football program for depth. But with strong players like Bowman and Jordan Norwood already on campus, he may want to revisit his stance in a year or two.

• We would like to remind everyone that all of the reports you have seen about Lift For Life — here and everywhere else — happen because the players hope the event raises awareness for their cause: the fight against kidney cancer. So if you have not done so already, we urge you to stop by the LFL website ( to check things out.


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