Here are four players who observers felt stood out in spring drills.
Derek Moye, WR: With the departure of Penn State's high-flying receiver trio, Mike McQueary has been looking to rebuild the receiver unit. The athlete who was talked about the most in the spring was Moye.
With a variety of observers pointing to his size, speed and hands, they feel he could provide a much-needed weapon in the passing attack. "Moye has great size [6-foot-5] and impressive body control on routes. He's not a burner like Butler, but he has deceptive speed and has shown he can be a deep threat," one observer explained.
According to another practice observer, "He's impressed me. He's gotten more aggressive. [The coaches] are pushing him to get a bit more physical, but he's shown good progress [this spring]."
Moye had two catches for 29 yards in Saturday's Blue-White Game.
Shaine Thompson, RB: The converted linebacker has "good size" at 6-0, 214-pounds and turned heads with his speed, quick feet and overall power. "He can hit like a truck. He has the linebacker mentality and is not afraid to lower a shoulder and level a defender. He loves contact," as one observer put it.
While Thompson has good aggression he needs to work on his reads. "He's still getting down-the-lane development from the zone blocking. Sometimes he'll get impatient and just put his head down and try to make his own lane by ramming into a crease," another observer explained.
Thompson has impressive speed, though, and has made "impressive runs inside and outside [the tackles]." According to one observer, "He has a good first gear. His top gear isn't up to Stephfon Green or Chaz Powell's level, but he's quick and has been sharp on his laterals."
Matt Stankiewitch, OG: Stepping in for Ohrnberger, who was drafted by the New England Patriots Sunday, is no small task. But Stankiewitch had a solid spring. The 6-foot-3, 292-pound redshirt freshman "picked up his assignments and is making strides on his technique."
Over the last few weeks of spring Stankiewitch was seeing first-team reps at left guard ahead of Johnnie Troutman. He has good footwork and has shown a tendency to get quickly off the snap with "solid technique" and "consistent power."
The issue he faces is actual game experience, having redshirted last season. Stankiewitch is expected to be in a "dog-fight" with Troutman for the starting left guard position. Although he is about 25 pounds lighter than Troutman, he is quicker. "This one could all come down to consistency and strength — who can hold their blocks better," an observer shared.
Stefen Wisniewski, C: OK, far from an unknown, Wisniewski is on the list due to initial questions surrounding his move from right guard to center, where he is replacing the Rimington Award winner Shipley. Wisniewski has answered those questions (so far) with a good spring.
"Wiz is such a rare player — he's incredibly disciplined, a technique fanatic and super-smart," one observer said. "He was a natural to take over for Shipley. I am not sure how many people realize how cerebral the position is. It's not just about delivering the ball; you have the physical side of the job, which is to manage a guy who is in your facemask. Then you have a mental side, which is to read the defensive shifts and make adjustments — all in a few seconds."
An Academic All-American, Wisniewski has "gotten comfortable in the middle." However, he's "still had spot issues with knowing when to call for help from his guards." All in all, observers feel that he has the ability to "get the line together." As one observer said, "Losing Q, Rich and (Gerald) Cadogan is big, but great lines are build from the inside out. Wiz will be a great foundation and will improve with every snap. He will also be a great, great leader for the line, which cannot be underestimated."
FAB FROSH BONUS
Kevin Newsome, QB: For a player who should still be a senior in high school, Newsome has "really impressed with his drive and ability to pick up the offense." As one observer explained, "[The coaches] have had him run a lot of intermediate work to help him get the scheme down and built his comfort."
As expected, Newsome looked "average" in some spring drills, but it's "almost like something clicked" just over a week ago in a team scrimmage. Since then he has had greater consistency. In Saturday's Blue-White Game he went 9 of 13 for 71 yards and one touchdown pass.
Newsome has also been called a "born leader." In terms of his on-field abilities, "He just makes plays. He'll still short-arm or push the ball here and there, but those [mistakes] are becoming less and less."
As another observer said, "I think he looked great, particularly in Saturday's scrimmage. You never know how a guy is going to perform for the first time in front of 70,000 fans, but he was poised and confident. Sure, it was a scrimmage, but that first Beaver Stadium touchdown strike he tossed meant a lot to him and I think will give him a boost of confidence."
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