Nittany Notes: End Game

With the departure of Tamba Hali and Matthew Rice, the Penn State football staff is looking for a few good replacements at defensive end. The team in the thick of two-a-day contact drills, so what better time to break down this key position on defense.

Though the Nittany Lions are only a few sessions into contact drills in pads, defensive line stability is starting to develop.

With the departure of Tamba Hali and Matt Rice to the NFL, both defensive end positions have been of paramount concern this off-season. The upperclassmen in the mix include Jim Shaw, Josh Gaines, Jed Hill and Michigan transfer Chris Rogers.

Jim Shaw: Shaw's strength is his power and ability to "dominate on a bull rush." He "pops" out of his stance and "releases incredible force off his initial surge." The senior has improved his footwork and ability to get low to provide leverage on assignments. Seeing action in eight games last season, he is the among the favorites to land a starting role and has seen a majority of his reps on the right side of the line. Shaw missed the early part of the 2005 season with a leg injury and has said he did not feel 100 percent until the Orange Bowl. He is clearly operating at full speed now.

Josh Gaines: Gaines saw action in 11 games in 2005 and has added five or so pounds to his frame (up to 264 pounds). He has seen first-team reps opposite Shaw all spring practice and preseason. "He's got good all-around fundamentals, he just needs to work on his consistency. He's good when he wants to be, but he has to bring it on every down." Gaines is another physical specimen who was among the top performers at the summer Lift For Life Challenge.

Chris Rogers: Rogers has been backing up Shaw most of the preseason and shared reps with Mike Lucian prior to the latter's shift to the offensive line at center. Rogers has shown good footwork and "is good at getting up on his toes." He also "reads his assignment well and has shown he can apply pressure. He needs to get his hands up more and use his knees instead of his back to create breaks in the line." Rogers is a transfer from Michigan in his first season of eligibility at Penn State. He has sophomore eligibility.

Jed Hill: Hill saw action in three games last year. In practice he's struggled with setting his base and getting low. He has good size for the position, but "he needs to embrace using his technique. He tries to just overpower guys, which he can't sustain on every down." Hill has been backing up Gaines.

Aside from the returning players, the Class of 2006 has several prospects vying for early time at the end position, including Jared Odrick, Aaron Maybin and Maurice Evans.

Jared Odrick: Odrick is in "phenominal shape," at 6-foot-5, 287 pounds. He is "well put together and has great agility." He has been impressive with his pass rush and "has shown he can wedge line breaks well." Observers have been impressed with his workouts and overall dedication and attitude. As to where he'll play, one observer said, "With the OL coming together he has shown he has the tools to play end, so we'll likely see him there in the near future — I think he has a great shot to make an impact there."

Aaron Maybin: At 6-3, 237 pounds, Maybin is seeing reps with the third team. "He's an all-out player. He needs to add some size, but he gives everything he has in the weight room, field or film room. He is among the most focused players we have." Described as "captain material," Maybin is a vocal player who "exudes leadershop," as one observer put it. He is "quick off the snap, has great fundamentals and is a heady player. With some size he could be a special one," another observer said. This is very much in line with the rave reviews former Lion DT Anthony Adams gave us on Maybin earlier this summer.

Maurice Evans: At 6-3, 260 pounds, Evans is described as "tough" and "aggressive." He drops his frame well and knows how to sit low and wide. He's been working on using his hands with Shaw and is improving with his endurance thanks to PSU's running regimen. Evans squares his shoulder well and gets up on his toes, he also continually pumps his legs, which has impressed the coaches.

In terms of the depth of the line at this point, this is how it shapes up:

DE: Jimmy Shaw, Chris Rogers/Jared Odrick, Aaron Maybin
DE: Josh Gaines, Jed Hill, Maurice Evans


Fight On State Top Stories