Nittany Notes: Early Risers

Penn State's early enrollees have been on campus for nearly three weeks now, getting immersed in campus life. Get an update on how the Nittany Lion Class of 2007 early enrollees have looked in the early goings of winter workouts.

The shift from high school to college football is never a simple one for players. However, for those who have the opportunity to enroll early, they get a significant headstart on getting acclimated to the program and taking major strides toward making an immediate impact on the team. Several previous early enrollees have done just that, such as Dan Connor, Justin King and Derrick Williams.

The Class of 2007 has four early enrollees; Nick Sukay, Jon Ditto, and JUCO prospect Ako Poti.

As one observer explaiend, "The first few [weight-lifting] sessions are a shock to a lot of guys. They put out the trash cans since so many guys will puke with the workout — it's not easy."

Here's an update on how a couple of the Class of 2007 early enrollees have looked in the early goings of the winter sessions.

Nick Sukay: Sukay has been on campus since his arrival Jan. 14. In the nearly three weeks since he arrived at University Park he has been working out and conditioning with the team, running conditioning sets and drills with the secondary unit.

"He's done well overall. He really got himself ready before he arrived [on campus]," one observer said. "He's been pushing himself in [lifting] sets and seems to be taking it all in."

Sukay has been participating in the player-mandated conditioning sessions that include lifting, running and fundamental drills. "Nick has looked good — he has pretty good upper body strength and runs well. He has endurance and has shown he has a powerful stride."

At around 200 pounds currently, Sukay is focusing on adding the 10 pounds the coaches have asked him to. As he told us in January, just prior to his arrival at PSU, "They are saying they would like me to get up to around 210 [pounds] or so."

He is currently focused on working on his lower-body strength and is said to have "impressive upper-body strength."

Sukay has seen limited time in Drill 6 (7-on-7 passing drills) reps at safety (both free and strong). As one observer shared, "He's shown he is aggressive. He needs to work on his control and discipline, but his attitude and intensity look good. He's tough. He'll need to work on his angles and reads, but he has a good foundation to build from." Sukay has also displayed impressive speed and a "burst off the snap."

The consensus among observers is that Sukay has the base to build from to help him make an impact this coming season.

Jon Ditto: At 6-4, 224 pounds, Ditto has also been immersed in winter workouts — lifting, running and drilling with the team, and has primarily seen work with the unit that is made up of tight ends, fullbacks and quarterbacks on lifting and drill sets and also includes linebackers and defensive ends on running sets.

In agility, fundamental and skill sets (e.g. Drill 6, 1v1, 2v2) Ditto has been working with the tight ends. "Jon is about the same size Andrew Quarless was when he got onto campus (6-5, 225 pounds)."

Observers also feel that while Ditto has work to do to catch Quarless, his early enrollment could give him significant benefits if he takes advantage of it. As one observer said, "Andrew added a good 25 pounds or so and picked up the playbook quickly to become a big impact player this past season. If Jon keeps up his initial intensity and can add some size, he has the opportunity to follow a similar path [to Quarless]. It will be tough for him to overtake the No. 1 tight end spot, but he has an major opportunity in front of him."

Although Ditto is "not as quick or smooth" as Quarless on runs, he has shown consistency with his hands in some early passing drills, although observers are interested in seeing his abilities in game situations with pressure.

Ditto has seen some work also in 1v1 and 2v2 matchup drills. "He needs to refine how he sets and holds his blocks. He engages quickly, but will have to learn to maintain his block and use his feet more."

In our next edition of Nittany Notes, we'll give updates on Poti and McCormack. -30-

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