NITTANY NOTES: Six Pack (Offense)

With spring practice right around the corner, FOS went to several practice observers to see which offensive players they are most anxious to see in action. Here are their top six picks.

With spring practice arriving in short order, we thought it would be interesting to get a gauge of which up-and-comers have impressed in the winter conditioning period.

Here are six offensive players who have not been in the spotlight who observers have on their short watch list:

Derek Moye, WR: One of the biggest question marks on the team is how the receiver unit will emerge with the departure of Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler. Among the players expected to step up is Moye. Currently at around 200 pounds and 6-foot-5, Moye "could really create some mismatches on routes," as one observer put it.

That's not just because of his size, though. "Derek's quick, he's big, but he is deceptively quick and really improved on start-ups off the line [of scrimmage]," an observer said. Moye was recently timed in the low 4.4-second range in the underclassman Pro Day event. "He could really be big time," another observer said.

Impact Potential: High

Kevin Newsome, QB: With the departure of Pat Devlin, "all eyes are on New New." Since his January enrollment, Newsome has only had the opportunity to participate in "pitch and catch and Drill 6," however he's looked "strong" and "showed good arm strength, touch and accuracy" in informal workouts. He still "short arms" some passes and needs to "finish" his release, but "he has a good base to build off of."

Newsome has shown he has solid speed, as well, despite his 6-foot-2, 225 pounds frame. This off-season he's posted mid to high 4.5 40-yard dashes and shown, "nice footwork in the agility sets." Given the fact he is likely the default backup to Darryl Clark, most observers are anxious to see how he does in spring practice.

Impact Potential: Medium

DeOn'Tae Pannell, OT: Getting reps as a true freshman in eight games last season, Pannell learned from veteran left tackle Gerald Cadogan, whose starting spot he'll be vying for this spring. He also saw action at left guard during Rose Bowl preparations. "He's got such a massive, towering build, and the wingspan of a jumbo jet. He's really built to be a solid tackle," one observer said. "I love his motor, too."

Pannell has made significant strides this off-season. "He's got great endurance and is starting to nail down the outside [tackle] job," one observer said. As another observer reported, "Cadogan raved about him even as a freshman. He's got the frame and the heart to excel. The opportunity is there too."

Impact Potential: High

Chaz Powell, WR: With Williams departed, Powell is the guy many observers are pointing to as his replacement. Powell's preparations are well underway to address the role. Down to 195 pounds, he's shed six pounds since the bowl and has been working overtime to enhance his already "impressive speed."

Powell's work paid off wirth recent runs by clocking a sub-4.3 40 (hand-timed) in the winter. "He's got the ability to be a rocket off the line," one observer said. "He's pulled in his stride and is working on hitting corners, making cuts and punching the post. He could be a big, big weapon — the guy they shift around — a real play-maker."

Impact Potential: High

A.J. Price, WR: Yet another wideout observers are anxious to see in action this spring, Price "has some sharp basics to his game." As another observer said, "He's getting the routes down and a lot more comfortable with the scheme."

Price is still focused on adding size to his frame. "He's upward of 175 [pounds], but the coaches really want him over that 180- to 185-pound mark. He has a big [6-4] frame to fill out, so they are always pressing him to get one more rep or eat another burger. I am not sure everyone understands how big this wideout unit is getting."

Impact Potential: High

Andrew Szczerba, TE: Toward the tail end of last season, Szczerba saw "a good amount of first-team" reps. He has consistently impressed observers with his "heads down" approach and his "coachability." As one observer explained, "With Mickey Shuler and Andrew Quarless, he's got some veterans ahead of him, but he's — and nothing against Mick — but he's got the size and hands over him. If he comes out with consistency he could already be ahead of Quarless, who is off and on depending on the day of the week."

Szczerba has been focusing on his blocking in the zone scheme and the fundamentals of his play, particularly "setting and holding his blocks." As another observer said, "His blocking is getting better. And I like his hands, so we'll see if he can pull it together."

Impact Potential: Medium

BONUS BREAKDOWN

Stefen Wisniewski, C: There's no secret among fans as to who Wisniewski is or what he is capable of. However, with a shift to center from right guard this off-season, there is anticipation to see how he manages the role, stepping in for All-American A.Q. Shipley. "PSU asks a lot of the center with the shifts and adjustments they are responsible for, but Wiz is sharp and there's no doubt about his physical play," an observer said.

Wisniewski is "thrilled" to be making the shift to center and is "happy to make the move for the team." As one observer said, "He's been buried in the playbook and asking for extra film time to really nail down the role — good sign there." As an aside, Matt Stankiewitch and Quinn Barham are penciled in as his backups headed into the spring session. And some of the veterans on the line suggest folks keep an eye on Doug Klopacz, who is coming back from a knee injury.

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