Redshirt Report: Part II

With the regular season wrapped up and the Nittany Lions preparing for Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl, many fans have been asking for updates on the Class of 2007 redshirts. Check out the second part of our series.

Redshirt freshmen are essentially a second recruiting class for a program, a group that has been kept under wraps since it stepped on campus last summer (and some before that). Given that these players have not had the opportunity to contribute in games yet and have had a season to brush up their skills and conditioning, there should be a lot of excitement about them and what they can potentially contribute in 2008.

Yet the buzz around the current recruiting class typically overshadows the news about these redshirt freshmen. So we thought this was the perfect time to remind people about the terrific prospects who are already on campus working out with the team.

With a season of scout team work under their belts, we've been collecting reports on several Class of 2007 members who redshirted this year. Get a look at both the strengths and areas of improvement for some of these players as they work to make an impact on the Nittany Lion squad in coming years.

Josh Marks, Offensive Lineman, 6-foot-4, 305 pounds

Since arriving on campus last summer, Marks has made an impression on most observers. Many raved about both he and Stefen Wisniewski as two linemen who could make an early impact on Penn State's offensive line. Wisniewski has seen action in seven games this season. While Marks is redshirting this year, he still has received strong praise.

Strength: Marks has consistently displayed impressive strength during his time on campus. In case you forgot, below is video of his bench-press performance at Lift for Life in July.

He draws "tremendous power" from his thighs and back, which gives him a burst off the line. Marks has seen most of his snaps at guard and has focused on increasing the strength in his arms and shoulders to "fend off the rush."

Fundamentals: "Josh has shown good control over his body — he needs to keep his hands up," one observer explained. Marks gets his center-point down and "sits in a solid stance."

He needs to improve when it comes to staying low when he comes off the line, but he has shown more consistency with his technique as the season has progressed.

Attitude: Marks is described as "incredibly upbeat and always wearing a smile." He is said to be very well liked by his teammates and respected by his unit thanks to his strong work ethic.

"Josh was very excited when Wiz got the call up to play," one observer said. "He a selfless guy." In fact, Marks could be taking over for A.Q. Shipley this year as Santa Claus during the team's holiday party in San Antonio.

Overall: Marks' strength and attitude could have him breaking into the two-deep if he maintains his momentum into the winter conditioning period and into spring practice. Observers would like to see him focus on his footwork some, and boost his aggression, but he has a "great foundation" to build onto.

FOS TV: Marks' Lift For Life Bench-Press

Stephfon Green, Running Back, 5-foot-10, 190 pounds

There are few redshirt freshmen in recent years who have created a buzz like Green has. It all started last summer when he took a screen pass 75 yards for a touchdown in a scrimmage. From there the legend has grown. "He can blow things open and has of few times in Drill 6," one observer shared last summer.

Speed: Green "has great speed" and is considered to be among the faster players on the team. According to on observer, "Steph is fast — his top gear is out of control. But you need more to be the lead guy. You can't expect to just outrun everybody down after down."

Green has been working on his runs between the tackles. "He can make a corner with his legs, but he's been focused on being able to hit an inside hole and move laterally to break open."

Fundamentals: With "impressive vision out of the backfield," Green runs low and "hits the lane hard." Said another observer, "Green hits the holes much better than Kinlaw did early this season. He needs experience, but he has the raw basics and the confidence."

In one drill set this season Green got the ball five times in the goal-line series and danced into the end zone on four of those carries. Despite playing behind a young, cobbled-together scout team offensive line, the starting defensive line simply could not get to him.

Overall: Without having seen a snap, many observers feel Green will add needed depth behind Evan Royster next season. Could he challenge Royster for the job? "He is, far and away, the best back we have," an observer said. "He's lightning fast."

However, others disagree. One observer said, "Green is as fast as they come, but Royster's vision makes him special. Re-watch what Evan does out there."

J.B. Walton

Despite being criticized by some for having "narrow shoulders" coming in to PSU, Walton has held his own, seeing reps with the scout team at both guard positions.

Approach: Observers like what he has shown throughout this season with a physical style of play and a technique that "needs work, but is generally good." As one observer said, "J.B. goes hard on every play. He is one younger guy who I think is going to be good in coming years."

Walton is described as quiet but is fairly intense on the field. "He's pretty tight with the unit and is one of those coachable players," one observer said. "That's the biggest reason why I think he will do well — he's willing to learn."

Blocking: Walton has been consistent with his ability to get downfield and open up lanes on the run. In this respect he is "able to get a good push off the line," which is impressive considering he has been going against the first- and second-teams in practice this year. He has worked on his pass blocking and the effectiveness of his hands to maintain his blocks in passing situations.

As another observer explained, "He's [gone up against] guys like Ollie Ogbu, Jared Odrick, Abe Koroma, Chris Baker and Phil Taylor. He doesn't get pushed around and is able to come really hard off the ball and get a good surge, which is so key to own that position."

Overall: If he is able to progress he could add some depth to the interior of the line. He has been working with Wisniewski and center A.Q. Shipley on various skills this season.

Joe Suhey, running back, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds

A player who many may be surprised to hear has had streaks of strong play this season is Suhey. Initially Suhey had a period where he had to "get comfortable with his gear" and the speed of the game, but since last summer he has adjusted to the level of play.

Speed: Described as "quick" rather than "fast," one observer told us, "Joe is pretty good; he has had a few good runs [this season]. I didn't expect for him to be as quick or shifty. He's not small, though. He looks about 6-1 and moves."

He has good acceleration through a hole. While he does not have the top speed of Green or Royster, he is quick with his lateral movements, which allows him to to evade tacklers.

Fundamentals: Given his size he tends to "run high, which makes him a big target." Suhey has gotten decked at times this season. "Sean Lee cleaned his clock on one run. He doesn't always use his peripheral vision to see what's coming."

Suhey has shown an ability to fight for yardage. His size makes him tough to take down once he is wrapped up. "He could be one of those short-yardage backs. He has also shown that he can catch some balls," said one observer.

Overall: Impressive based on what many expected of him, Suhey is not likely to push Green or Royster this coming season, but he could be a back that adds depth. He needs to work on some of the basics, particularly blocking, but he has shown some sparks.

See our previous Redshirt Reports:

Redshirt Report: Part I

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