NITTANY NOTES: Welcome Aboard

The bulk of Penn State's Class of 2009 arrived on campus last week. Get the lowdown on how several key members of that group have held up to date.

Last week most of Penn State's Class of 2009 members arrived on campus. During the latter part of the week the freshmen were introduced to running and lifting sessions.

"Out of the gate the staff just wants an idea of what they have to work with," one observer explained. "J.T. (Penn State strength coach John Thomas) is the first real welcome they get to the program. A lot of guys think they are in good shape — and some are — but most have never worked out to the degree or intensity they will while [in the program]."

As another observer said, "J.T. gets [the freshmen] right into the swing and goes all out on them. Most guys don't know what to expect, but this is a whole new level, so it takes time for most guys — even the eventual All-Americans — to get adjusted. There are guys who handle it well — Stefen Wisniewski was one. You can often tell they have a good chance of being special. But the first week isn't usually a good gauge. I mean Daryll Clark had a tough time when he first got here. If you could see him when he first got to PSU and now, it's a world of difference."

Initial Impressions

Here are news and notes from observers on freshmen that stood out to them in the first few sessions. Keep in mind not every freshman is addressed here; only the ones who stood out to our observers. Also note that they are very early assessments.

"Speed and skill-wise there are several young guys who look like they can play if there is room (on the roster)," according to one observer.

  • Devon Smith, WR: Said to be "tiny" and "kind of petite," Smith is also described as "blazing fast" and "can really fly." On observer said, "Smith has to be one of the fastest guys on the squad right now." As an aside, Smith had his trademark braids cut and is now sporting a short harcut.

  • Curtis Dukes, RB: Described as a "a beast," and "really built," Dukes has been "pretty impressive in the lifts and has been pretty humble." "He definitely looks the part," according to another observer.

  • Eric Shrive, OT: As one observer describe him, "He's gargantuan — I mean just huge. He's super nice and has bonded with a lot of guys given that he's been up here so much." Observers also like Shrive's build for his size and are "anxious to see where the [weight] program takes him."

  • Jordan Hill, DT: Hill is "pretty well built" too, according to one observers. He is said to have impressive strength in his back and legs. He was also "surprising" in runs, showing "better endurance that most expected."

Other Notes

  • It's not exactly clear what the situations are with Justin Brown and Glenn Carson. Since their arrival on campus, their participation in conditioning drills have been limited.

  • As we previously broke on the TAP board, Darrell Givens has not enrolled at Penn State yet. He is taking summer classes back in Maryland and is expected to enroll at PSU in August. Also Derrick Thomas is taking the same route as Givens — summer school back in Maryland before enrolling at PSU next month. provides the BEST exclusive, original, inside coverage of Penn State football.


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