Nittany Notes: Safety Patrol

See how things are playing out in the heart of the secondary early in preseason drills. Position changes have led to some new faces emerging at key positions.

With the move of backup Chaz Powell to receiver, we've received several questions on how the Penn State depth chart is shaping up at the safety spots.

According to observers, this is how things looked as of Tuesday:

FREE SAFETY
7 Anthony Scirrotto, Sr.
28 Drew Astorino, Fr.
26 Nick Sukay, Fr.

STRONG SAFETY
9 Mark Rubin, Sr.
29 Cedric Jeffries, So.
38 Tyler Ahrenhold, Fr.

Quick hitters on the players listed above:

Scirrotto: Two-year starter and All-Big Ten pick who is the unquestioned leader in the secondary. You already know about him.

Astorino: Played safety and corner in the spring but is a full-time safety now. Moved up to the second team as a true frosh in 2007. Despite making several road trips, the staff kept him in a redshirt. Teammates have raved about him. Two-sport star in high school who led his team to PIAA football and basketball championships.

Sukay: Another redshirt frosh, he spent much of the summer in a cast and immobilizer while recovering from a broken bone in his right foot. Has been injury prone throughout his career to date and has not had a chance to prove himself.

Rubin: Former receiver who has finally found a home at safety. Has been outstanding in run support but must improve his coverage skills. His improvement allowed the staff to move Tony Davis back to corner and to try Powell at wideout.

Jeffries: Played safety as a redshirt freshman in 2007, making four tackles and seeing action (defense and special teams) in all 13 games. He was moved to outside linebacker in the spring, but then shifted back to safety earlier this week.

Ahrenhold: Walk-on who redshirted as a receiver in 2007 and then moved to safety during the spring. Teammates are said to like his nose for the ball. Heady player who figures to be a contributor on special teams in 2008.

AND ANOTHER THING: True freshman linebacker Mike Mauti, who enrolled at Penn State in January, was moved to safety late in the spring. Though he advanced up to the second team behind Rubin, he has since been shifted back to linebacker. Observers say the move in the spring was made to get the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Mauti more comfortable in coverage and was never intended to be permanent.

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