Nittany Notes: Comin' Up

In this latest exclusive edition of our Nittany Notes series, we look at five young players who are turning heads in spring drills to date.

Before we get into the young players who are making an impact in spring practice, here is a review of this week's practice schedule for the team:

MONDAY: Tops (helmets and shoulders pads, with shorts) in Holuba Hall

TUESDAY: Off

WEDNESDAY: Full pads in Holuba Hall. 25-play (or so) scrimmage slated for the end of the session.

THURSDAY: Off

FRIDAY: Full pads in Beaver Stadium. Possible full scrimmage

SATURDAY: If the full scrimmage does not happen Friday, it will likely happen Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

Please note that what is going to happen later this week is subject to change at the whim of the coaching staff.

Sure, every FightOnState.com member knows about the spring buzz young guys like Stephfon Green and Pat Devlin have made through the early sessions. However, here are five young players who haven't seen game action yet and have to not received a lot of pub, but are turning the heads of observers in drills.

Eric Latimore (DE): Described as "massive" and "towering" at 6-foot-6, 262 pounds, the defensive end is "deceptively quick off the snap" and "digs in and just bowls over a guy off the line."


Eric Latimore.

Last season Latimore saw second-team reps in practice despite being redshirted. "It's impressive to have a guy not have the chance to play [due to his redshirt] but still consistently get second team work on [position coach Larry Johnson's] unit."

Latimore continues to see second-team defensive end work and "has had more than his fair share of sacks and negative(-yardage) plays. He has shown the ability to knife in and blow up plays," an observer said. Latimore is still working on "lowering his stance to generate more power off the snap," "his lateral footwork" and "swim" technique, but "he could really add another dimension to the Penn State pass rush.

Chimaeze Okoli (DT): Okoli "not only looks the part, but has shown he knows how to use his size." At second-team defensive tackle, Okoli "has really stepped up and rounded out the rotation since a few guys (Phillip Taylor (suspension), Chris Baker (suspension) and Jared Odrick (injury) have been out."


Chimaeze Okoli.

At 6-4, 287 pounds "he gets his frame low and squares his shoulders. He gets those feet out to give him the ability to surge off the snap," one observer explained. Okoli has also shown consistent footwork and has "an outstanding motor." One observer compared his stamina to former PSU DT Anthony Adams, saying "he's all out on every down."

Although he is still working on his engagement technique, particularly with his hands, "he's an incredible load to handle — Coach Johnson has worked on that perpetual movement with his legs, which really creates a ton of momentum for [the offensive lineman] to pick up and manage."

He also has a massive wingspan that "quarterbacks have to keep an eye on. You think you're getting away and this plastic-man ... remember plastic man? That really bad 80s cartoon? ... well, his arms are so long, it's like three extra steps on a guy."

Nate Stupar (LB): Seeing a majority of second-team weak-side linebacker reps this spring, one of the biggest assets for Stupar's development is the time he has had with senior linebacker Sean Lee, "working [his] reads, technique and general approach to the position," one observer said.


Nate Stupar.

Described as one of those "textbook guys [position coach Ron Vanderlinden] loves; they come in with a great foundation. But most importantly they are coachable — they want to learn — and they have great humility."

At 6-1, 220 pounds, Stupar has shown good all-around strength but will continue to "add power to his game with improved technique." Stupar is focused on his coverage skills this spring, but most observers we have spoken with feel he is prepared to make a significant contribution to the team's two-deep thanks to his instincts and athleticism.

Drew Astorino (S): Described by observers as a "pure athlete," Astorino is "raw" with his technique, but he is "very coachable." He has solid speed and "has physical, aggressive style of play out there."


Drew Astorino.

Several observers have named Astorino as a player they expect could contribute to the depth of the secondary unit this coming season. "He has a nose for the ball and, with some work, could really be refined into an impact player."

Astorino's focal points this spring are on his reads and tackling technique. "[The coaches] are working on reading a ball-carrier's tendencies on a run," one observer said. While another observer explained, "[When he tackles] he needs to just lock on and finish it though the whistle."

Derek Moye (WR): Moye's size, at 6-5, 196 pounds, creates mismatches for the coverage. "He's big and uses his body pretty well to box guys off the routes," one observer said. Moye also has impressive receiving skills. "He's got good technique — he creates a big target with his hands and looks the ball in," another observer explained.


Derek Moye.

As FOS' Scott Cole said after watching Moye, "His size created problems for every CB who tried to cover him. He has soft hands as he made grabs deep down the sideline where he badly beat (A.J.) Wallace and over the middle on a slant, both from Devlin."

Saturday Moye was sidelined part way through the practice with what looked to be some kind of leg muscle strain. A trainer was wrapping Moye's left thigh and then continued the wrap up around his right hip and back down. This injury was not serious and he has gotten work in since.

In terms of improvement, Moye is focused on his technique getting off the line and "sharpening up his cuts."

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

-30-


Fight On State Top Stories