Nittany Notes: Frosh Focus

The Class of 2006 has made some waves this preseason. Here's a rundown of how each of the rookie have performed out of the gate for the Nittany Lions, who open with Akron at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon

The Class of 2006 represents the recent recruiting surge that Penn State football has experienced. Here is a review of how each freshman from the Class of 2006 has looked in practice:

Chris Bell: The receiver has received significant buzz this preseason, thanks to his size, speed and hands. According to one observer, "It's tough to ignore Bell's abilties. He just needs to refine his game, work on his patience; letting things develop and improve on positioning his body to box out defenders." Bell is among a handful of freshman who are expected to make an early impact. His size and speed "add a new dimension to the passing game."

Navorro Bowman: Bowman "is an excellent athlete" with "impressive endurance." Some have speculated that the linebacker could suit up for PSU basketball coach ED DeChellis if he ever chose to do so. Coming off shoulder surgery from an injury sustained midway through his senior year, Bowman has seen reps with the scout and third-team linebacker unit, but the coacheS have wanted "him to take it easy; shoulder injuries can easily become a nagging problem."

Brett Brackett: The quarterback has made a positive impression with the coaches and his teammates. He is a "sharp, patient player." He's shown solid power in his legs with his dropbacks and passes. He has "good mechanics" and "is patient with his passes — he doesn't seem to panic." As one observer explained, "He looks good, but these are skeleton sets — it's like backyard pitch and catch — the key will be how he does with a lineman in his face; pressure tells the full story with these guys."

Brent Carter: Carter has seen some third-team reps a running back. At 6-foot-2, Carter needs to run lower and "get his shoulders down." He "keeps his legs moving, but runs high which makes him an easy target to bring down." Carter needs to focus on getting his upper-body strength on par with his lower body. He's a "smart" runner, though, and has "picked up spotting a hole with zone blocking scheme pretty well."

Pat Devlin: Devlin's participation in preseason drills was limited to some early reps due to a case of mononucleosis, which has him taking it easy until he recovers. Out of the gate the QB displayed good consistency with his throws, strong footwork on dropbacks and an ability to "shift the velocity on his ball." He will need to focus on running through his progressions and waiting for routes to develop. "He's anxious, which is common with the younger guys. He wants to deliver the ball fast and hard." The consensus on Devlin is that he is has a great foundation to work from and a knack to learn.

Lou Eliades: Eliades has split his reps at both offensive guard and tackle, getting most of his work with the third team in practice so far. "Lou's a tough customer; he looks like he has the size to play guard, but the more I see him the more I think he has the footwork and agility to play tackle — he can move." Although pretty quiet, Eliades can "play nasty." One observer said, his attitude "reminds me of A.Q. Shipley."

Maurice Evans: Evans has shown solid fundamentals with his pass rush at defensive end. 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 Jim 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. "He needs to get his conditioning primed to break into the rotation."

Bani Gbadyu: While some folks think Gbadyu is a linebacker, he has seen the bulk of his reps at the safety positions this preseason. "Bani is a physical player; he can add some size, but looks like he could become a solid strong safety to me," one observer opined. His pursuit angles have been "excellent for a freshman," but he needs to "work on his tackling — he needs to hit lower."

Cedric Jeffries: At 6-2, 195 pounds, Jeffries has been working with the safeties. "He's not as aggressive as some of the other freshmen there like Bani [Gbadyu] or Travis [McBride]. He has pretty good read-react skills." The consensus among observers is that Jeffries needs to add some size and strength to his frame before he can effectively contribute.

Doug Klopacz: We have not received a lot of reports on Klopacz, so unfortunately we don't have a lot to report on the offensive lineman. Most observers have said they have not had the opportunity to see him, or they don't recall his performances. We'll working on finding out more on him. It is not uncommon for true freshman offensive linemen to get lost in ths shuffle a bit during their first preseason.

Abe Koroma: Koroma has been seeing some third-team defensive tackle reps this preseason. "Abe carries his size well. He needs to refine the basics; sit low, get up on his toes, bend his knees more," one observer shared. "He has an impressive foundation to work with and has a godd attitude — very coachable." Koroma has also been working with Jay Alford to understand how to attack breaks in the line and apply pressure.

Eric Latimore: Recovering from two shoulder injuries sustained during his senior year, Latimore is greyshirting this year to allow him to fully recovery from his injury.

Antonio Logan-El: Logan-El has been working with the offensive line, particularly with senior Levi Brown. "Levi and he hit it off, so Levi is showing him the ropes and how to effectively play the line — not a bad tutor." At 6-5, 315 pounds, he is "quiet and focused." Despite his low-key demeanor, observers have noticed a "mean streak" in him that "needs to come out more." He has shown good footwork, but has to extend his base and get up on his toes to pick up leverage off the line. Currently he is not practicing due to an NCAA Clearinghouse issue that has recently emerged, a problem which is described as "minor."

Aaron Maybin: At 6-3, 237 pounds, Maybin has seen the bulk of his reps with the third team at defensive end. "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 leadership," 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.

Travis McBride: Seeing time primarily with the safeties, McBride has "good quickness" and a "strong initial burst." At about 6-0, 195 pounds, McBride needs to "learn the position and get comfortable with it. They'll have him work on his pursuits and hitting the right angle."

Tom McEowen: At 6-4, 289 pounds, McEowen has shown good footwork and hands in 1v1 drills. "He's pretty nimble for his size," one observer explained. "He gets up on his toes and pumps his legs and constantly moves." Observers say McEowen has an excellent surge off the snap. "He needs to tap into his mean streak. He's aggressive, but he'll channel his strength if he plays more mean." His true strength may be his leadership; "he's always pushing guys around him."

Jared Odrick: Odrick is in "phenominal shape," at 6-5, 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 [defensive] end, so we'll likely see him there in the near future — I think he has a great shot to make an impact there."

Ollie Ogbu: Ogbu has seen reps with the defensive tackles this preseason, earning some third-team action. Ogbu "has good power to work with" and "solid bull-rush technique." His general technique needs to be refined along with "the details of his game," but he is "hungry to improve." Ogbu "needs to use the power from his legs more; keep them pumping off the snap." He uses his hands pretty well though.

Andrew Quarless: Quarless "could be an outstanding tight end." He has good reception skills and releases well off the line. His blocking needs to improve which will "come with practice" and he "needs to work on his overall endurance," but "he has the tools to be a complete tight end. If he works he'll provide an effective target in years to come," according ot one observer.

Evan Royster: Observers like Royster's build (6-0, 205 pounds) and stride. Although he can add some size, "he runs smooth; he glides and makes sharp cuts," one observer explained. Royster is working with the running backs, particularly with Tony Hunt, who has been reviewing what to look for with the blocking schemes. "They'll have him focusing on sitting lower off the blocks and running with his pads more out and down — this will make him a challenge to take down." Although he sustained a minor shoulder injury in earlier in preseason, he is said to be fine and "running well."

Phillip Taylor: Described as "massive," the defensive tackle has found all the running the team does in the preseason to be somewhat of a challenge, but is "adjusting well to it." He's been "a lot for assignments to handle" early on given his size and strength. "As you can imagine he has tremendous momentum off the line; he's like a tank." At around 340 pounds, Taylor is expected to drop some weight, but if he can get comfortable with the running observers feel he has the frame to effectively carry his size. "He's surprisingly athletic for his size," one observer said.

Johnnie Troutman: Recovering from an ACL tear sustained last season, Troutman is expected to greyshirt this coming season.

A.J. Wallace: Wallace has seen his drill reps with both the running backs and defensive backs. "He is light on his feet and has great transition speed off the snap." He runs "crisp routes, but will have to get control of his speed." During the latter portion of preseason practice he shifted to see the bulk of his reps at wideout. "He reminds a lot of people of [Justin] King, a little more aggressive, a little bigger, but the coaches will probably work him in the same way to see where to best put him on a permanent basis."

J.B. Walton: Walton will is currently attending Milford Academy and plans to enroll at Penn State in January.


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