Nittany Notes: Redshirt Report IV

With the eyes of Nittany Nation focused on the Class of 2007, there is a second recruiting class at Penn State that has yet to see the field, but has had a season to make preparations for its impact on the team — the redshirt freshmen. Take a look at how some more of the redshirt freshmen have looked this season in practice. This is the fourth in a series of exclusive in-depth reports.

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.

Tom McEowen, Defensive Tackle, 6-foot-4, 286 pounds

Rated a four-star defensive tackle prospect by Scout in the Class of 2006, McEowen was pursued by programs like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Boston College, before choosing Penn State early on. Although McEowen saw limited action against Northwestern, his game time this season was cut very short due to an ankle injury. He is expected to receive a medical redshirt this season. Given the early impressions he gave, the coaches had planned to show McEowen significant action. He is now recovered his injury but won't play in the Outback Bowl.

Footwork: McEowen has "impressive movement for his sheer size." He has "good lateral movement" and "can cut well off a break." One of the most consistent comments about McEowen this season is his "continual movement through the whistle." The consensus is that he is "constantly moving his feet."

As another observer explained, "He's pretty nimble for his size. He gets up on his toes and pumps his legs and constantly moves."

Fundamentals: Observers say McEowen has an excellent surge off the snap. He "attacks cracks in the line" and uses his hands well, particularly in 1v1 assignment drills. He lowers his center of gravity well and has focused on squaring and lowering his shoulders off the snap with line coach Larry Johnson this year.

Approach: McEowen plays "very disciplined." As one observer said, "he has a military style about him." He's also said to be very "coachable."

"He needs to tap into his mean streak," one observer said. "He's aggressive but he'll channel his strength if he plays more mean."

Strength: Overall his strength is solid and consistent. This season has seen him focus on improving the strength in his thighs, back and shoulders to "make his initial surge more unmanagable for assignments." Generally, he has an impressive physique and build and "carries his size well."

Position: As one observer said, "Tommy is built to play [defensive] tackle." There is little argument among that opinion as every observer we spoke with saw McEowen as a defensive line player.

Leadership: One of his biggest assets is said to be his leadership. Observers regularly have commented on his continual encouragement of his teammates. "He's talks up guys to finish drills and push themselves."

Condition: McEowen was among the most impressive freshmen when it came to conditining and endurance out of the gate. If you recall in the preseason sessions, the staff had the players run an incredible amount. While most newcomers struggled with their endurance in these drills, McEowen was among the few who excelled.

Overall: If McEowen can tap into an aggressive streak and maintain his discipline around his fundamentals, he has the ability to make an impact in coming seasons. The coaching staff saw his potential from the outset of his arrival on campus, and if not for an injury he likely could have been among the top freshmen contributors with Andrew Quarless and Maurice Evans.

Brett Brackett, Quarterback, 6-6, 233 pounds

One of the more intriguing redshirt freshmen is Brett Brackett. At 6-6 he has impressive size. Brackett's time on the scout team this season have seen him take reps at quarterback, wideout and tight end, which has led to speculation abouot a potential position shift.

Mechanics: Brackett's release is not as sharp or quick as Pat Devlin's but he has shown good overall accuracy with his passes. He has gotten more comfortable with the overall scheme this season and has focused on the follow-through of his motion to "better deliver the ball."

He "squares up" his shoulders consistently and has shown an ability to throw "soft and hard passes" in different situations.

Fundametals: Brackett grew up in a "mobile passing scheme," where he was often looked on to "pick up his feet and move." Early on it was said he dipped his elbow from time to time on passes, but he has worked this season to improve that.

Overall he has good footwork and fundamentals. "He holds the ball well and eyes multiple targets," one observer said. His larger hands are said to be an asset in handing snaps and handoffs. He has also displayed impressive power in his legs with his dropback and passes.

Defensive Reads: Described as a "sharp, patient player," he is said to be "patient with his passes — he doesn't seem to panic" when situations break down.

He has shown an ability to deliver the ball on intermediate routes consistently and has improved the range of his passes throughout the season. He still needs to work on reading and adjusting to "all-out pass rush" and blitzing situations.

Physique: Brackett is not as well built as Devlin, "but still has a good overall physique." He is generally strong and has made an impression around the program. He derives a lot of power from his legs and has been working to improve his upper-body strength this season.

Mobility: Not as fluid on runs as some of the "smaller QBs," he has a strong stride and powerful legs, throwing his upperbody into his stride. He's not afraid to move when things breakdown or "lower a shoulder into a tackler."

Leadership: Brackett is well liked and seemingly respected by his teammates, some of whom have raved about him in interviews. He tends to be somewhat quiet, but is said to be showing improvement in "managing the huddle."

Position: While there has been talk of Brackett making a move to tight end or wide receiver in the spring, this has simply been the nature of playing on the scout team — all scout players play multiple positions. For example, Dan Connor played some fullback last year with the unit.

While a shift is not out of the question, observers have consistently said that Brackett is expected to get a shot at the quarterback position this spring before any position shift decisions are considered.

Overall: A heady player with size and power, Brackett has made strides with his redshirt this season and has turned heads with his abilities. He "plays tough" and is "anxious to learn." Overall he has some work to do, but appears to have a solid foundation through his first season in the program.

Here are more recent redshirt and greyshirt reports we have posted:

  • Redshirt Report III: Logan-El, Gbadyu
  • Redshirt Report II: Eliades, Royster
  • Redshirt Report I: Devlin, Royster
  • Grayshirt Report: Troutman, Latimore

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