Keep in mind these observations do not come from watching the players in pads, full practice drills or contact, so they are limited primarily to lifting and running sessions and any independent unit or Drill 6 reps they participate in during the summer.
- Kevin Newsome: The early enrollee has been on campus for six months and has "really grown" in that time according to observers. The backup quarterback to Daryll Clark, Newsome "rarely leaves Lasch (Building)," one observer said. "He's always trying to get better -- continually trying to learn from everyone around him, whether it's Clark, Jay [Paterno], Stefen [Wisniewski] or even Todd Blackledge. He got to talk to Todd and he was absorbing every piece of advice he was giving him." Newsome has shown improved pass consistency in Drill 6, strong drop-backs and is said to be a "born leader." As another observer explained, "His teammates really gravitate toward him -- he is incredibly approachable, humble and respectful. None of that arrogance you sometimes see with these top players."
Strengths: Leadership, coachability, athleticism, attitude.
Improvements: Follow-through, short reads, overall pocket comfort.
- Eric Shrive: "Phew, he is one big boy -- he's only a true freshman? I still don't buy that," according to one observer. Shrive has turned heads simply because of his massive 6-foot-7, 300-pound frame.
"He can put up weight [in lifts], and I think he's got some good footwork for a guy that size. He's working on coming out of his stance and his basic technique, but he's done well in indies (individual drills) so far and is a pretty determined guy," as another observer put it.
Strengths: Frame/size, strength, general footwork, determination
Improvements: Technique, stance holds, engagements
- Mark Arcidiacono: Another freshman lineman who is penciled in at tackle, Arcidiacono is a bit smaller than Shrive. "He's about an inch or two shorter and maybe 12 to 15 pounds lighter," one observer explained. "I like his technique, though. He's been quick out of his stance and uses his hands pretty well." Said to be "quiet," he's described as another young player who is "very coachable." In terms of areas he's focusing on, "[The coaches] are going to work to get him to fit into his frame; get more power from his legs and bump up the power from his chest and shoulders to help hold his blocks and contain assignments."
Strengths: Coachability, basic technique, size
Improvements: Footwork, overall blocking power
- Sean Stanley: Penciled in at defensive end, Stanley has "shown a good burst off the line" in sprints, "but you need to see how that carries over to the game. Quick off a starting line is not necessarily quick off the snap. His top-end speed is limited."
As another observer said, "He's got decent strength, but will have to improve it, particularly his upper-body to shed blocks consistently."
Some observers mentioned his overall size as a concern. "He's going to have to add some size since he's not one of those burners -- he'll need power to get into the pocket." Observers say he's "likable" and seems to be "pretty fun to be around."
Strengths: Good initial burst, attitude, baseline power
Improvements: Size, overall strength
- Christian Kuntz: At 6-foot-4 and around 195 pounds, Kuntz has initially been with the wideouts. Observers like his build and height, but expect he will need to add weight. "He's got a good foundation to build from, he's going to have to add some size, though, so he can hold a route and not get knocked around," according to an observer.
Kuntz has shown "good consistency" with his hands in limited Drill 6 work, but "has to look the ball in more. He just needs to get more comfortable with everything. It's expected." Several folks feel he could grow into a possession receiver and like his athleticism.
Strengths: Height, hands, athleticism
Improvements: Weight, technique, overall comfort
- BONUS NOTE: Observers noted that rookies Devon Smith and Shawney Kersey have both been timed at better than 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash. These were, however, hand times.