NITTANY NOTES: Redshirt Report 1

An update on how the Penn State rookies who are redshirting this year are doing in practice through the midway point of the season.

While a handful of Penn State true freshmen are playing this year — running back Brandon Beachum, defensive lineman Jack Crawford, defensive back D'Anton Lynn, linebacker Mike Mauti and offensive lineman DeOn'tae Pannell — most members of the Nittany Lions' most recent recruiting class are redshirting.

But that doesn't mean the players who are sitting out lack talent. The list of PSU greats who have redshirted is extensive, including All-Americans like Ki-Jana Carter, Kerry Collins, Michael Haynes, Larry Johnson and a host of others.

With that in mind, we believe it is important to track the progress of the redshirting freshman. Check out Part 1 of our series right here:

Brandon Ware, DT, No. 99

THEN: Ware came onto campus tipping the scales at nearly 370 pounds. As one observer explained during the preseason, "He really needs a year to knock down the conditioning — he needs to get his weight down and the endurance up." Ware initially struggled to complete early runs on conditioning sets in the off-season.

NOW: "He's started to trim down a bit, but he needs more time [in the weight room]," an observer said. "Getting his size down will help with his endurance, footwork and ability to break off the snap — all areas he has to improve on." As another observer explained, "He has the ability to be a load in the middle, but he's got to be able to do it time and again on a drive." And his ability to finish those runs? "He's getting better," the observer said. Ware earned a coveted spot on the 70-man travel roster to Purdue, an honor typically held for redshirting freshmen for whom the coaching staff has high hopes. He did not play against the Boilermakers, though.

Mike Farrell, OL, No. 78

THEN: This past off-season Farrell's impressive size (6-foot-6, 285 pounds) had him consistently standing out in the minds of observers. Although back then he needed "some time in the weight room," to "fill out his frame," he showed good agility in runs and was focused on "working on that endurance," according to an observer.

NOW: Farrell has shown promise getting down the blocking scheme and getting in work at both tackle positions. "Mike's had the opportunity to work with Dennis [Landolt] and [Gerald] Cadogan. Both are veterans who have given him help managing his feet and prying leverage off the line." an observer said. Farrell is said to have the size to contribute to the depth of the offensive line (which will need it) in 2009. But he has to work on "getting low and on his toes to pick up the rush off the edge." Observers also like the progress he has made with his conditioning.

A.J. Price, WR, No. 14

THEN: Called the "new featherweight of the wideouts," by Deon Butler, Price had about 170 pounds on his 6-4 frame when he arrived on campus late in the summer, but he impressed his teammates. As Butler said back then, "You can tell he's going to be a player once he learns what he is doing. He has good hands, can jump and can run."

NOW: Price has continued to impress with his hands and receiving skills. "He squares up, looks the ball in and does pretty well protecting it," an observe said. "He's getting better at his route-running; just needs to make them second nature." And as for his size? "He's getting there, I'd say he's put on eight to 10 pounds maybe, but he can handle a lot more; and he'll need it to avoid getting knocked off his saddle."

Mark Wedderburn, TE, No. 86

THEN: "Wedderburn is so tall, once he puts on some weight he's [going] to be a beast," an observer said in the off-season. At 6-6, 235 pounds, observers liked his quickness and feet, but expected him to add weight to his frame.

NOW: Wedderburn has focused on his upper-body conditioning to "shed tacklers" and his blocking technique. "He came in and hit the weights hard," an observer said. "[The coaches] have him focused on setting and holding blocks — using his technique rather than just trying to bowl over and overpower a guy. He could really be a weapon in coming years with the agility and strength he has shown." In terms of his hands, "Mark has pulled in some nice balls. He just needs consistency with the catches and holding onto the ball after a big hit."

Mike Yancich, LB, No. 33

THEN: Yancich was impressive to observers in the off-season and managed to work his way to see second-team reps in the preseason while Navorro Bowman was in the doghouse. During the off-season he was focused on "building up his strength," particularly in his legs. Back then one observer said, Mike "gets lost at times. But he has time to work with Sean [Lee]." Lee is the injured PSU linebacker who is serving as a sort of player-coach this year.

NOW: Called a "stud" and "the real deal," by observers, Yancich has shown a strong aptitude with the play book and the "speed and aggression to effectively play the outside." He's shown "good wrap up technique" and "has that reckless flair [position coach Ron Vanderlinden] loves; that disciplined chaos," an observer said. Many feel Yancich is making the strides needed to contribute to the depth of the linebackers next season. Considering the overall of youth of the positions and the fact that Lee is scheduled to return, that is high praise. is THE source for exclusive, inside coverage of Penn State football.


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