Nittany Notes: Opening Day

Penn State began spring practice Monday. Learn about some of what went down in the session from our exclusive Nittany Notes.

Though Joe Paterno did not have his typical opening day press conference to kick off spring drills Monday, FightOnState.com got some news and notes from the afternoon session.

  • This initial session saw no contact or pads and focused on agility, technique and individual position drills for the players.

  • "This first practice is really an evaluation period," one observer said. "The [coaches] use it to just figure out what kind of winter everyone had and to get an idea of what they have to work with and on during the limited time they get [this spring]."

  • As of this stage, the team is said to be "looking good" in terms of overall health, with no new major injuries. Last week we reported kicker Kevin Kelly was dealing with an Achilles' tendon issue, but "he is fine" now and has been running and kicking since that report.

  • In terms of previously injured players, DT Jared Odrick (dislocated ankle), DE Jerome Hayes (torn ACL), OL Quinn Barham (broken ankle), OL Lou Eliades (foot stress fracture) and TE Brennan Coakley (ACL) were present at the session. However, all of these players were limited in their participation. Hayes and Odrick participated in light runs. As of this time, none of these players have been cleared for contact.

  • DL Devon Still participated in Monday's session and "looks fully recovered" from his August 2007 ACL injury. Observers feel he will be cleared for contact drills which, are scheduled to kick off on Friday and Saturday of this week.

  • The offensive line focused on agility drills, including bags and "dummy work" (referring to the 7-foot tackling dummies used, not the complexity of the drills) and some basic fundamental work. The defensive line also "worked the dummies" and "got into some rip-swim work with [position coach Larry Johnson]." The two units also saw some limited 1v1 time to "get some assignment work in." The initial starters for both lines were:

    Offensive Line

    LT: Gerald Cadogan
    LG: Rich Ohrnberger
    C: A.Q. Shipley
    RG: Mike Lucian
    RT: Dennis Landolt

    Defensive Line

    LE: Josh Gaines
    LT: Abe Koroma
    RT: Ollie Ogbu
    RE: Maurice Evans

  • As one observer said, "[Coach Johnson] is going to use this week to build the rotation, which will allow him to start putting together various packages with different combinations that include guys like Tom McEowen, Aaron Maybin, Eric Latimore and Devon Still. The tackles are short-handed right now though [with Chris Baker and Phillip Taylor suspended and Jared Odrick injured.]"

  • For what it is worth, the order of QBs taking snaps Monday was: Daryll Clark, Pat Devlin and Paul Cianciolo

  • DE/LB Tyrell Sales, who had his locker cleaned out following a St. Patrick's day legal run in but was subsequently cleared of all charges, was cleared to practice on Monday after meeting with Paterno and participated in drills. Defensive back Willie Harriott has also been cleared to participate in spring drills after not making the Alamo Bowl trip last December due to a DUI charges.

  • None of Penn State's other suspended players — Baker, Taylor, WR Chris Bell, LB Navorro Bowman and DB Knowledge Timmons — were at the session.

  • Monday's practice was the first of 14 that will occur leading up to the April 19 Blue-White Game, which will mark the end of spring drills.

    Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for unmatched inside coverage of Penn State football and spring practice.

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