IN FOCUS: Ty Howle

See how the true freshman offensive lineman is progressing this spring as we continue to focus in on particular Nittany Lions.

THE PLAYER

Ty Howle, C (6-foot, 284 pounds)

An early enrollee (along with Kevin Newsome, Gerald Hodges and Anthony Fera), Howle had the advantage of going through Penn State's winter workout program.

This spring Howle has primarily seen third-team reps at center, backing up starter Stefen Wisniewski and current second-teamer Quinn Barham.

Since his arrival on campus, Howle has been penciled in at center, the position he focused on at Bunn High in Wake Forest, N.C.

THE ASSESSMENT

Approach: Howle's described as "pretty quiet" and "taking it all in" right now. Said to have a "strong work ethic," Howle is "facing perhaps the toughest role out of the gate, outside of maybe quarterback and middle linebacker." As one observer explained, "He's had his head buried in the playbook and been working a ton on understanding the communication aspect of the [center] job."

Size: "The coaches want to get him some added size onto his frame," and observer said. As another observer reported, "Wiz has like three inches on him, but that doesn't mean he can't be an effective center. [A.Q.] Shipley was in a similar situation, but [Howle] will have to work that much harder to improve his technique and strength to compensate."

Strength: Said to have good initial "baseline strength," Howle has focused on his back and legs to "generate more power off the surge." He's put in extra weight sessions, which has impressed observers, and "[John Thomas] has him on a similar regimen that A.Q. was on." However, observers believe Shipley came into Penn State ahead of Howle in terms of strength. "Q had some amazing power even as a freshman," one observer explained.

Improvement: "Ty has a ton of improvement to make, but he's only been in a handful of organized practices," an observer said. "Center is a challenging position — he's got to nail down the playbook, nail down zone blocking, nail down his technique and nail down the physical side of his game. He'll be fine with time and reps."

Howle is working on each of these aspects with the offensive line coaches, but perhaps more importantly, with Wisniewski, who made the move to center from guard. "Wiz is in a similar boat, but Howle has couple of oars and Wiz has a couple of big engines. [Wisniewski] is picking it up more quickly because he's played center in the scheme and he has the zone blocking and playbook down, and physically he's where he needs to be. The good news is Wiz is working with Howle on aspects of his game which will hopefully help with his learning curve."

Impact: With Wisniewski the likely starter and Barham playing second-team center, the expectation is that Howle will not make an early impact unless the position experiences a significant injury issue or he makes some impressive off-season progress. Many observers feel Howle's size may be an issue, but also feel he has the approach and foundation to improve "if he keeps his head down." We expect him to redshirt this season and to come back bigger and better next spring.

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