PSU Nike Analysis Part 2

Our second installment of who did what at the combine on the Penn State campus Saturday. In this update, Cory James breaks down the prospects who project to the defensive side of the ball in college.

We ended Part 1 of this two-part series by talking about the offensive linemen struggling against the defensive lineman at the 2007 Penn State Nike Camp. From a defensive line perspective, it was difficult to find guys that could be sleepers given the level of competition that they were going against. Several defensive lineman looked good.

I already talked about Mackey (in the last report), who for my money is every bit as good as Maurice Evans was coming out of high school. The problem on Mackey is said to be grades, and no one knows exactly where he stands there. The academics must be viewed as a serious problem though, considering that Mackey hadn't even heard a word from Penn State coaches as of the conclusion of camp Saturday.

Really, only the Florida State coaches showed a lot of interest in Mackey. Now that isn't to say that Penn State isn't aware of Mackey. Coach Larry Johnson was front and center for Mackey's dismantling of R.J. Dill, as well as prior and subsequent dominations of other players.

Reggie Ellis (Washington, D.C.) was also on hand and had my attention given the praise that he has received at camps recently. Ellis was just OK for me. Against the competition on the offensive line, Ellis should have dominated. He is a thick defensive tackle type kid, but nowhere near the level of guys that Penn State has gotten in recent years such as Phil Taylor, Tom McEowen and Abe Koroma.

There was one other stud defensive lineman who had muscles upon muscles in Nathaniel Williams III (New Haven, Mich.). The guy was built like a truck and just overpowered everyone the way you would expect a solid defensive prospect to do against these offensive linemen.

The defensive backs had a few good guys in there, but not much depth to the group. Obviously, Boubacar Cissoko was the biggest name there coming off of his many MVPs and his commitment to Michigan.

Cissoko was very aggressive for his size. He was not afraid to get up and jam a receiver, but let's not pretend that he just dominated. Cissoko would have been flagged several times for pass interference. Cissoko is a great prospect, don't get me wrong, but he has some fine-tuning to do before that aggressiveness draws some flags at the college level.

The next defensive back in line for me was Okechukwu Okoroha (Greenbelt, Md.). This kid was just an athletic specimen at about 6-2, 190-pounds. Okoroha was very aggressive in coverage and really jammed people up. He didn't have great straight-ahead speed, but he could really break on the ball. This kid is the real deal. Okoroha would be an average cornerback but he could be a dominant safety. If Penn State lands Okoroha, he would be the first safety at the school in recent memory in the mold of a Sean Taylor or Myron Rolle -- a big guy who can move, hit and cover. I have to think the Penn State staff was impressed with Okoroha. Nothing much else to talk about by way of defensive backs.

The linebackers were very watered down so I did not spend a lot of time checking them out. I talked about Brandon Beachum and Christian Wilson in my previous report.

I did watch Shayne Hale (Monroeville, Pa.) as he finally worked out in the one on ones. Hale is impressive in stature but he honestly didn't impress the way that I expected him to in drills. Hale is just too big and rigid to be a linebacker. He is definitely a defensive end in college and it will take him some time to adjust as well. We'll see what happens on Hale, but the best thing that could happen to him would be to put his hand down and play some defensive end this year for Gateway High. In speaking with Hale, he was pretty tight-lipped about his recruitment. He did not indicate any favorites and only really stated that he would try to narrow things down this summer and take some visits throughout the summer and fall. I really got no feeling, good or bad, for Hale toward Penn State.

That was pretty much it for the position-by-position breakdown.

There were a lot of coaches there, from all the biggest and smallest schools around the country. I did not see any head coaches this year, including Penn State's own Joe Paterno. The rest of the staff was all present and accounted for, including Penn State wide receiver Derrick Williams, who was a player-coach for the wide receiver drills. I couldn't have picked a better ambassador for the PSU program to help coach at this camp. Not to mention, two of the guys that I mentioned previously in WR Devon Smith and DB Okechukwu Okoroha, are from Williams' high school and could learn a lot from Williams.

As I said, the overall talent was down from recent years but there were still some good prospects in attendance. Now we wait for any shakedowns from the camp to see if offers and interest picks up for any of the attendees.


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