But that doesn't mean the players who are sitting out lack talent. The list of Penn State greats who have redshirted is extensive, including All-Americans like Ki-Jana Carter, Kerry Collins, Michael Haynes, Larry Johnson and a host of others.
The best part about redshirting as a true freshman is it allows a prospect to immerse himself in the strength-training program. Each Friday during the season, while most everyone else on the team is off, the redshirting rookies are put through brutal workouts at Lasch Building.
With that in mind, we believe it is important to track the progress of the redshirting freshman. See Part 1 of our exclusive Redshirt Report series. Here are the assessments from Part 2 of our series:
Curtis Dukes, RB, No. 26
THEN: Dukes had observers talking during the off-season after he had an impressive Lift for Life as a true freshman. His strength had him "managing early lifts well," and his 6-foot-1, 240-pound frame coupled with a high 4.4-second 40-yard dash time had observers excited to see Dukes' abilities on the field.
NOW: With veterans like Evan Royster, Stephfon Green and Brandon Beachum in the mix, Dukes was not expected to see action in 2009, but "he could have," one observer said. Dukes has shown incredible power and has been "devastating at times between the tackles." He's been focused on showing patience with his blockers rather than "just trying to run over guys," and has improved with his overall "run reads." One observer feels, "Dukes and Beachum could change up the entire short-yardage situation [for Penn State]."
Gary Gilliam, DE/TE, No. 89
THEN: Gilliam's big frame and impressive hands had many excited to see what he could do at tight end for the Nittany Lions as a freshman. However, with Andrew Quarless, Mickey Shuler, Andrew Szczerba and Mark Wedderburn, the Lions had a full roster of tight ends for the 2009 season, so the staff shifted Gilliam over to the defensive side of the ball to see how he managed the position.
NOW: Gilliam has "transitioned well" to defensive end, where he has seen scout and third-team reps. At 6-6, 245, the coaches have looked to add weight to his frame, asking him too add 15 pounds or so. Gilliam has shown good footwork and use of his hands. He's now working on block shedding and "making the corner." Observers feel he has work to do but has made enough progress that they suspect that he'll add depth to a 2010 rotation that will boast Jack Crawford, Kevion Latham, Eric Lattimore and Sean Stanley.
Shawney Kersey, WR, No. 4
THEN: Kersey showed up at PSU with good size (6-1, 187) and impressive speed (4.3 in the 40). However, he was not as polished of a receiver as Curtis Drake or Justin Brown, who ran tighter routes and had better instincts out of the gate. However, observers liked his upside and felt a reshirt year would serve him well.
NOW: Kersey's speed is what observers point to first. "He's so fast and fluid," one observer said. Coupled with his size, he has the ability to be "real threat" in the passing game. Kersey has been focused on the basics with his hands. "He has the ability to make some great catches, but he thinks too far ahead — before he has the ball in his hands and has made some dumb mistakes." Observers feel he is making progress, though, and should help provide depth to the wideouts next season. He should also make an impact in special teams, as a return and/or cover man.
Adam Gress, OL, No. 58
THEN: Gress came arrived on campus with a determination and "nasty streak." With a sizable 6-6, 275-pound frame, Gress had impressive lifts early on, "drawing power from his size," and showed promise in early drills with a need to improve his agility and footwork.
NOW: Many observers feel Gress has benefited from his redshirt year, with better endurance and greater strength. He is still working on his footwork and overall mobility, but has shown progress at third-team tackle this season. "He's got an intensity he draws from, but he needs to get his agility and technique down to lock up and pick up the rush." The feeling is Gress is tough and has a good base to build from, but has work to do on getting the blocking scheme to be second nature, with improved footwork and understanding of his assignments.
Brandon Moseby-Felder, WR, No. 8
THEN: Due to an injury sustained in high school, Moseby-Felder had not played in nearly a year when preseason practice began. So it was a no-brainer to redshirt the athletic 6-2, 170-pounder. It is also allowing to get strong.
NOW: Said to be "the most impressive redshirt freshman wideout" by one observer, Moseby-Felder has "head-turning speed" and good hands. He has focused on "locking his routes." As one observer explained, "If it's a 12-yard route, he's got to run 12 yards, not 11 or 13." However, the consensus among observers is that if he can nail down his route-running he should be another formidable weapon for the passing game.
Mark Arcidiacono, OL, No. 63
THEN: A bit smaller than Eric Shrive and Gress, Arcidiacono came in and was said to have had the most refined technique of the three. Quick off the snap, Arcidiacono was called "coachable" and a "head down" type of player, meaning he was focused.
NOW: This season Arcidiacono has focused on adding size and strength to this frame to get over 280 pounds. He has also worked on his technique in terms of holding his blocks and getting his "footwork to be more fluid so he can get better lateral motion." Arcidiancono is penciled in at tackle and has the technique to make a move on the depth chart, but will need to continue to focus on his strength and footwork to get him to where the coaches want him to be next season.
Stay tuned for more progress reports on Penn State's freshmen redshirts, exclusively on FightOnState.com.