Nittany Notes: PSU Redshirt Report Part 1

With the regular season wrapped up and the Nittany Lions awaiting to discover their Outback Bowl opponent, many Penn State football fans have been asking for assessments of the Class of 2006 redshirts. Take a look at how some of the redshirt freshman have looked this season in practice. This is the first in a series.

With a season of scout team work under their belts, we've been collecting reports on several Class of 2006 members who are redshirting this year. Get a look at the strengths and areas in need of improvement of some of these players as they work to make an impact on the Nittany Lion squad in coming years.

Pat Devlin, Quarterback, 6-foot-4, 205 pounds

Very few redshirt freshmen have had the interest around them that Pat Devlin has had this season. With the ups and downs Anthony Morelli has experienced at the PSU helm this year, Nittany Nation fans are curious about the progress the Scout four-star prospect, Elite 11 selection who was ranked out of high school as the No. 4 QB nationally, has made running the scout team.

Mechanics: Devlin's passing motion is described as "fluid" and "smooth." He is said to "have a natural release — he's looks comfortable with his tosses and does not have jerks in his motion." He has been working on full follow-through on every pass.

"In some passes that require placement rather than velocity, some would call it touch, he tends to hold back his follow-through to take some power off the pass." He has worked on extending his throwing motion in order to deliver the pass, but using his wrist more to "increase the ball's spin" which can help with placement.

Footwork: He has a "certain dropback" that is the same every time. "A lot of quarterbacks drop back a little different each time, which requires adjustments in how they set their feet and body." Devlin sets his feet "well, with a solid base" and "he's up on his toes — he's not a flatfoot."

A good amount of his power in his passing comes from his thighs and hips, which "he uses well. His entire body flows through a pass." He does have a tendency to "hop" on progressions, squaring his shoulders to whichever target he is focusec on, which "can telegraph a pass; but he's getting better at just using his eyes."

Delivery: "Pat has different gears on his passes. His high-end balls are not like Anthony's [Morelli], but he can deliver some velocity because of that technique we talked about — getting his whole body behind the pass." Devlin can throw "hard and soft" and has "nice ball placement on a lot of passes — right in the numbers or in the ribs on a crossing or out pattern."

The biggest knock on his delivery is on breakdowns. "When it's a set play he looks good; if there is a breakdown he will often lose some of his technique — jumping or not following through on a checkdown. It'll come." Earlier in the season we reported that he was very anxious on his progressions. By all accounts he is more patient, although he "wants to make the big play."

Defensive Reads: Although it is unclear how effective Devlin is at flat out reading the scheme that he is facing, given the shifts in personnel and changes related to the scout team, he has he has an ability to read a corner's coverage tendencies, which would likely lead one to believe he has the ability to read defensive fronts fairly well. Observers have said that he will "study where a corner will ease off or break on a route and attempt to hit his target at that point."

For example, some corners will play tight for 15 yards than pull off five or so yards after the out, assuming that the play will be a run, or they may stuggle recovering from a break on a post pattern. Devlin has exploited these types of thngs on play action and with his progression.

One major asset for Devlin is that he was "raised in a pro-style offense" at Downingtown, which is a significantly different system than Morelli saw at Penn Hills. Given that Devlin has worked with three- and four-wide receiver sets and ran the occasional designed QB draw/run, it has likely aided him in picking up these aspects of Penn State's scheme more quickly.

Mobility: Although he is not a running QB he said to have "enough movement to get out of jams." He runs "hard" and "tough" and has had his running style of "tuck and fight" compared to Zack Mills. "He's a 4.6 to 4.7 [second forty] range runner, so he isn't going to burn many guys straight out. But with his arm and abilities he can keep the defenders back and just make his move if he needs to."

Leadership: "He's an upbeat kind of guy. His huddle is positive and he talks guys up." As another observer said, "He dictates the offense well and is not afraid to praise or critcize, but in a way that is not condescending or upsetting to his team." Devlin is a "talker" in the sense that "he doesn't just give the play, but he provides some color for the guys around him. I think he puts his players at ease — from my point of view he's liked and respected — although he may be too nice sometimes. Sometimes you need to grab that facemask of your linemen and direct them."

Overall: Several observers have credited this year's relatively young secondary's progress in no small part to Devlin's play on the foreign squad. "He makes good decisions and places the ball well — he often will lead receivers with the pass. The [defensive] backs have had to play in tighter to narrow the windows. He's really challenged the corners particularly." Devlin has been described as "sepcial" and a player who "can really be good." He has embraced his scout team role and "made the most of it." Although "he is really anxious to compete for the head job."

Aaron Maybin, defensive end, 6-foot-4, 238 pounds

Considered a vocal leader of his recruiting class, Maybin was instrumental in building the Class of 2006 base of talent, particularly the slew of prospects out of Maryland like Navorro Bowman, Bani Gbadyu, Antonio Logan-El, Philip Taylor and A.J. Wallace. Maybin saw reps with the third and scout teams this season.

Footwork: Maybin has good fundamentals when it comes to setting a stable base. He has worked on lowering his center of gravity off the snap. One asset for him is that "his feet are always moving." He is described as "relentless" and a player who "never quits."

In fact, former Lion defensive tackle Anthony Adams raved about Maybin last summer, picking him out as a freshman that impressed him. Maybin also does good job of "playing on his toes" to help play "nimble and quick."

Speed: He is "quick off the snap, has great fundamentals and is a heady player. With some size he could be a special one," an observer said. Maybin's 4.65 40 speed "gives him an edge off the corner."

"Aaron is not the fastest guy in a flat out sprint," one observer explained. "However, he draws good power from his legs and knows how to drop a shoulder to get around the post of his assignment." He needs to work on head-on block shedding, which appears to be an issue related to his relative'y small size for the end position.

Condition: Considered to be in excellent condition, Maybin came into PSU and was one of the few freshman to handle the incredbile amount of running well. Said to be "impressive on runs," the Scout four-star prospect has the stamina "Coach [Larry] Johnson looks for in his rotations."

His overall intensity and dedication has seemingly paid dividends this year, providing him with "excellent endurance" in drills. "His motor doesn't quit — he's the type of player coaches love to get hold of."

Strength: Physically, Maybin is in excellent shape for his size. He had good strength coming out of high school with the ability to bench-press 320 pounds and squat 435 pounds. He has "an impressive build" which is said to be a solid foundation to work from.

Although he is strong, his lack of weight on the line requires him to use his strength, speed and footwork to handle straight blocks, pulls, etc.

Hands: This is area of the game Maybin has been working on — keeping his hands up and using them to help direct his assignment. Early on he had a "tendency to drop his hands — a lot of guys go through this — but he's done better keeping them up."

Attitude: This may be his best asset overall. Maybin is described as "very coachable," "hungry to learn" and "fun to bne around." He has the respect of his teammates who "gravitate toward him."

He is also "very dedicated to every aspect of his game — workouts, drills, practice, even how he eats."

Though it was evident early on that he was going to redshirt, Maybin made most of the road trips with the Nittany Lions this year. That is a true indicator that the staff intends to get him serious playing time in 2007. Why else use a valuable travel-roster spot on someone who had little chance of playing in a game?

Leadership: Described as "captain material" by observers, Maybin is a vocal player who "exudes leadership" and "is always talking up his teammates in drills." When seniors Levi Brown and BranDon Snow had words on the sideline during the Minnesota game, Maybin stepped in and played the role of peacemaker.

Overall: "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." Maybin's relatively small size at end has some observers thinking he would be well-suited to step into a stand-up defensive end position to leverage his speed, similar to the role Tim Shaw played this year.

-30-


Fight On State Top Stories