REDSHIRT REPORT: Part II

Get another inside update on how the Penn State rookies who redshirted in 2008 are coming along.

While a handful of Penn State true freshmen played in 2008 — 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' 2008 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:

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-foot-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 late in the 2008 season. "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." Price will continue to focus on adding size and strength to his frame this off-season to help him make a run up the depleted wideout depth chart.

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 last summer. At 6-foot-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." He's also focused on his footwork and his ability to "get off the line clean" late in 2008. Observers feel if he can get consistent with his blocking he will vie for playing time in 2008, even with three veterans ahead of him on the depth chart.

Michael Zordich, FB/LB, No. 31

THEN: Originally with the linebackers during summer workouts, Zordich moved over to the offensive side of the ball early in the preseason to pick up the role of fullback, a position he was well versed in from his high school days. Zordich initially saw the bulk of his reps with the third team, but progressed to pick up significant second team reps during the preseason. Just before the start of the 2008 season, he moved back to linebacker.

NOW: Most people project a move back to fullback since starter Dan Lawlor is graduating. Though Zordich played well at linebacker on the foreign team during the regular season and in the run-up to the Rose Bowl, observers believe he can be even better on offense. "He's big and powerful, but he's nimble and plays determined," one observer explained. "He squares up well, lowers his gear and is a gritty player who fights for extra yardage." As another observer explained, "He really focused on his blocking technique [in he preseason] — a must for the [fullbacks] in the [PSU] system — but what makes him dangerous are his hands. He pulls in the ball well and tucks it in tight."

Mikel Berry, DL, No. 94

THEN: Berry came in as a walk-on from Upper Arlington, Ohio. He listed at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds at the time. Berry saw action for Upper Arlington both on the defensive line and in the backfield periodically as a short-yardage running back.

NOW: Berry is listed at 255 pounds but appears to be much bigger than that. He played on the scout team in 2008 and draw praise from All-American center A.Q. Shipley, among others. He's focused on trying to increase his size and upper-body strength and get his footwork consistent off the snap. "He has a ways to go to really get into the realm of pushing for a depth chart spot, but he tends to keep his head down and is the type of player you need to come out and push it in practice," one observer explained.

FightOnState.com is THE source for exclusive, inside coverage of Penn State football.

-30-


Fight On State Top Stories