NITTANY NOTES: Spring Kickoff

Get the ins and outs of what went down as Joe Paterno and his team returned to the practice field Wednesday.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno was slated to meet the media following Wednesday's opening of spring practice.

Though the session was moved to Friday (it will be held after a men's basketball press conference), we were able to tap into our program observers for some notes from Wednesday's action.

  • Wednesday's practice was the first of 14 that will occur over the next few weeks leading up to the April 25 Blue-White Game, which will mark the end of spring drills.

  • The initial practice session saw no contact or pads and was conducted in shorts and T-shirts. The players focused on individual position drills, agility and footwork. The coaches hit the field about 3:30 p.m. and the session lasted until about 5:30 p.m.

  • Coming off hip replacement surgery last November, Paterno was reportedly in great shape Wednesday. "He was on his feet the whole time today," an observer said. "He was very active."

  • "The sessions out of the gate are really used by the coaches to assess what they have to work with [in terms of players and depth]. A lot of it is gauging the progress their guys made during the winter — in the weight room, in informal drills and at the training table," an observer said. As another observer said, "The staff is limited to 15 (spring) practice sessions (by the NCAA), so they have to understand what they have to accomplish quickly."

  • The lines focused on footwork and agility sets, getting some bag and tackle dummy drills in to test their fundamentals. The defensive line also got some "pursuit basics" in with position coach Larry Johnson working on rip, swim and corner techniques. Very fundamental stuff.

  • Stefen Wisniewski "has really taken charge of the (offensive) line out of the gate. I know some were concerned he'd let his underclassman status hold him back, but I think the coaches pulled him aside and told him he needs to command the line in his new role (as center)," an observer said. Wisniewski is making the move from guard to center. He is still only a sophomore academically.

  • Not surprisingly, the quarterbacks took snaps in the order of Daryll Clark, Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin.

  • Generally, the team "looks pretty healthy" heading into spring ball. However, Penn State is dealing with some previously sustained injures like Stephfon Green (RB - broken bones in his leg), Brent Carter (RB - ACL tear) and Jerome Hayes (DE - ACL tear). All three are expected to sit out for spring drills.

  • PSU did not fully escape the injury bug heading into spring. Reserve safety Ryan Gmerek sustained a knee injury (ACL/MCL) recently, which is expected to sideline him for the spring session.

  • This off-season Sean Lee has continued recovering from an ACL tear sustained last spring. Although said to be recovered, the coaches are expected to keep his participation limited. He did participate in the light drills Wednesday.

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