Spring Big Ten Revisited (Part 2)

At the start of spring practice we revealed 10 players we were focusing on (as best we can, considering most practices are closed). Some are being asked to be impact players in 2007. Others are young guns who are getting a chance to show their stuff. Get a review of how these players are progressing this spring.

Now that we are basically halfway through spring practice, we figured we would revisit the progress of these players who are of particular interest to us this spring. Here is a review of five of them. Remember that the last practice was this past Monday, since Joe Paterno elected to cancel Wednesday's session.

When it came to picking these 10 players, there was not necessarily any rhyme or reason. They are just players who are of interest to us ... and many Penn State fans this spring judging by the requests that rolled into FOS since drills kicked off.

Check out Part 1 of our report earlier this week.

Let's get a quick update on each of these players and why they are on the list.

Derrick Williams (WR): Williams has "looked sharper in the most recent practices — he's off the line quicker and sharp on his routes," one observer shared. Physically he "looks good" and is at just under 200 pounds, although "losing a couple more [pounds] could really help," another observer explained.

"He's been challenged when up against the first-teamers (corners Justin King and A.J. Wallace)," according to one observer. "A lot of the time he is set out on the wing, but in the last few practices they motion him inside, which has allowed him to matchup with a safety, which can be easier for him to create some separation." Williams' has been consistent with his hands and is focused on "owning the route — using his body to create space for the ball," as one observer put it. He continues to see first-team reps with the wideout unit this spring.


A.J. Wallace

Lydell Sargeant (CB): The buzz at the open of practice was around Sargeant's "continued misuse" at cornerback, and the thought of him making a contribution in the offensive backfield. While some observers maintain that position, others feel he "is starting to come around at corner — he's more comfortable and his coverage is really improving." In fact, Sargeant has had some "impressive interceptions" in drills.

He is seeing his reps with the second team behind Wallace, but has also taken a small number of first-team reps in recent practices. The biggest issue he is dealing with is his aggression, which "can be a real asset in coverage, since you play the assignment tight," according to an observer. "But it also results in some risk-taking which gets him in trouble sometimes. He gets physical and plays in tight and the experienced receivers use that to their advantage with a quick route adjustment or step-out, which throws him off and allows them to get open."

A.J. Wallace (CB): Observers consistently rave around Wallace's speed and the fact he has improved control over his runs. "I haven't seen a wideout who he can't keep pace with," according to one observer. "However, you put him on a vet — Butler or Williams or Norwood, and they are pretty good at using his own speed against him with a hard post or break or a comeback. A.J. has to focus on adjustments, but he is played pretty tight all spring."

Wallace's strength is "in open coverage" and he's getting better "cleaning up his game with inside runs." Justin King has been working with him on these types of adjustments at times. He's very aggressive though and plays "intense on every down" another observer shared. "The coaches like his approach to the game and you couple that with his physical play and most think he's going to be a special one."


Chris Bell and Mike McQueary

Chris Bell (WR): "Chris is coming around. He's starting to realize that if he wants to impact the unit he has to work on the little things," an observer said. Seeing time with the second-team wideouts with some limited first-team reps this spring, Bell has shown good hands, but "needs to use his head and feet off the line — at times the defender will bump him and he let's his aggression get the best of him," another observer said. "He locks up with him, pushing back and it throws off the route and timing. He's got to learn to let it go, bounce off and continue on."

Bell has had a tendency to have some physical confrontations at times, which "end up distracting his play." One observer explained, "He needs to realize it's a physical game — he needs to focus and not stew on or get caught up in it five plays later. The defender is just doing his job, it's not personal."

Kevin Kelly (K): Kelly has been "kicking consistently" this spring and continues to work on distance and control with his kicks. "He's been going for power, to build up his range, but he's really been focused on ball placement," an observer said.

"He's faced some limited rush drills, and did pretty well," the observer shared. "The key is getting it all to be second nature — kick through the ball and get a set motion that gets the distance and control. It's tough, but he's making progress with it."

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