Nittany Notes: Coming Up

With Penn State well into spring practice, the 2007 edition of the Nittany Lions is starting to come into focus. In this installment of Nittany Notes, we look at five young players who are turning heads in the drills to date.

Six practices in, observers have consistently mentioned a handful of young players who are pushing to make an impact in the program. Here is a look at five players who have fit this bill in the early goings of drills this spring.

Phillip Taylor: Tayor has "trimmed down" some and "is relatively trim for his massive size." Down to just over 320 pounds, the sophomore has seen the bulk of his reps at second-team defensive tackle behind Abe Koroma. "Phil's quicker off the line and more fleet-footed out of the blocks," an observer explained. "He needs to keep his feet pumping, but he's able to engage quicker. He still has the size and strength to pick up leverage and attack breaks in the line." Many observers feel Taylor's progress will make him a much-needed asset on the line this season. As one said, "If Abe and Phil both keep it up, the line will be in better shape than intitially expected." This is one reason Joe Paterno did not list the D-line as a serious concern going into spring drill, despite losing three starters. Another reason is...

Aaron Maybin

Aaron Maybin: Described as "explosive off the corner" and "a force on the edge [of the line]," the redshirt freshman defensive end has impressive speed and plays "fast and hard on every down." Currently running at second-team defensive end, he's been backing up Josh Gaines and picking up a handful of the first-team reps. Approaching 245 pounds, Maybin's attitude continues to be "among his best attributes." As one observer said, "He's continually talking the guys around him up — he's open to help and he gives it too."

Pat Devlin: Devlin's management of the pocket and "poise under pressure" have impressed onlookers. "He has a presence. Before he even steps to the line he seems to be reading the defense, reviewing his players and making adjustments. They don't have him audibling out yet, but he seems comfortable enough to do it." The redshirt freshman quarterback has been working on "smoothing his rollouts "and using his running backs and tight ends more," and has also been focused on the "basics of his footwork," but fundamentally has been sound with dropbacks and mechanics. His reps have been primarily with the third team with some second-team snaps at times.

Pat Devlin

Evan Royster: At just over 205 pounds now, the redshirt freshman tailback "runs hard" in drills and broke open a "handfull of 15-plus-yard runs in Saturday's scrimmage." Granted most of those were against the third-team defense, but he "rides low and hits a hole with authority. He's good at lowering a shoulder and running over guys," an observer said. Royster has seen reps behind Austin Scott and Rodney Kinlaw, but on the whole observers feel he is "better out of the backfiled than Kinlaw," although "he's not as quick." Royster "excels in traffic" but hesitates at times, which has resulted in some "big hits." He "manages handoffs well" and is working on protecting the ball "from getting stripped."

Lou Eliades: Eliades has seen time at third- and second-team left guard this spring. "Lou is strong and plays with a chip on his shoulder," one observer said. "He's pretty mean out there." Eliades has gotten in "more than his share of scuffles." Elaides "sets a good, low base," but needs to keep his hands up and consistently square his shoulders." Eliades is another redshirt freshman.

Elijah Robinson, the current first-team left guard, has consistently received comments that he is more well-suited on the defensive side of the ball but has shown improvement on the OL this spring. The extent of that improvement will likely be a significant factor in the impact Eliades makes early on in 2007.

Stay tuned to FOS for more spring practice reports on Penn State.


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