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 and Part 2 of our exclusive Redshirt Report series. Here are the assessments from Part 3 of our series:
Christian Kuntz, WR, No. 34
THEN: A 6-4, 190 pound wideout from Trinity High in Camp Hill, Pa., Kuntz was a physical player who carried and caught the ball in a Wing-T offense. As a junior he carried 115 times for 813 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 426 yards and four touchdowns.
NOW: Kuntz is listed at 207 pounds with mid-4.4-second range 40 speed and decent hands. Redshirting was expected from the get-go for a couple of reasons. First, Kuntz sat out much of his senior season in high school due to an injury, so the coaches wanted to give him adequate time to recover, which he has. Second, PSU already had several big wideouts (Brett Brackett, Graham Zug, Justin Brown) as weapons, each of whom were further along in their development. Kuntz is a solid package, but given the depth of wideout talent in a similar physical mold, it will be interesting to see where he ends up as the off-season progresses, as some observers feel he could add depth at safety.
Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, DB, No. 23
THEN: The 5-foot-11, 185 pound Obeng-Agyapong played for John F. Kennedy High in the Bronx, N.Y. A relative unknown out of high school, he had offers from programs like Iowa, Connecticut and Buffalo. Obeng-Agyapong had good speed and was said to be a physical player.
NOW: With mid-4.4-range 40 speed, Obeng-Agyapong is quick and "strong off the blocks." Penciled in at safety, "he's got to improve on his reads, but is strong on pursuits," as one observer said. The staff has focused on improving his strength, without increasing his size dramatically which "can be challenging." Given the depth concerns, Obeng-Agyapong is expected to be in the mix to fill out the depth chart at safety this off-season, however, he'll need to "make better breaks on the ball" to make a push at the two-deep.
Malcolm Willis, DB, No. 24
THEN: Another shorter stature defensive back, Willis had decent size and speed to make up for his 5-11 frame. Said to be aggressive, Willis punished ball carriers and showed solid tackling technique in the preseason
NOW: At 221 pounds, Willis is said to be quick and powerful from the safety position. He has seen reps from both the free and strong positions, and has shown impressive run-support skills. Willis has been "solid" with his reads, although "he needs better control of his speed and aggression," since he over-pursues his targets at times. With improved discipline observers feel that he should make a run at the two deep, likely at the strong safety position.
John Urschel, OL, No. 64
THEN: At 6-3, 263 pounds, Urschel was not a highly recruited prospect, although he had an offer from Boston College. When he first got to campus, Urschel was praised for his discipline and the PSU coaches liked his physique and raw skills along with his coachability.
NOW: Urschel now checks in at 278 pounds. "The redshirt has helped him a lot," one observer said. "He's stronger, bigger and has an improved physique — he carries himself better." There has been some debate as to whether Urschel will end up on the offensive or defensive line, but he seems to be penciled in at guard heading into the off-season. Observers point to his maturity and desire to improve his game. He's been focused on improving his footwork and speed, "and he's been putting in extra work to get his agility together. He'll put in extra cone work and runs to improve — that's what is needed from these guys." With depth issues at the guard positions, the staff hopes Urschel will make an aggressive run at the two deep this off-season.