IN FOCUS: Mike Yancich

See how the Penn State linebacker is progressing during spring practice drills in our exclusive In Focus series.

With a backlog of 'backer talent at Linebacker U. in recent years, young players like Mike Yancich have had to battle their way up the ranks. Now, with the departure of standouts like Sean Lee, Josh Hull and Navorro Bowman, Yancich is positioning himself to break into the two-deep and make an impact on the squad. See where he stands so far this spring.


Mike Yancich, LB, (6-foot-2, 225 pounds)

Yancich is running second team middle linebacker behind Chris Colasanti, although several observers feel he's "making a run at the starting job." Colasanti is 10 to 15 pounds heavier than Yancich, but observers feel his fundamentals and "head for the game can make up for that."

Fans paying close attention to the PSU sideline this past season may have noticed that in several games, Yancich was sporting a headset on the sideline. That was a sure sign the staff was grooming him to be a play-caller on the defense, which is generally the responsibility of the middle linebacker, where he is currently.


Speed: Yancich displays agility and "plays on his toes." Although "he doesn't have the fastes straight-line speed" observers say he has improved his reaction times which has "helped to make him a faster player. He has a good frame and carries his weight well. He is working with the coaches and Jeremy Scott to improve his pursuit technique.

Approach: Previous said to be "cut from the same cloth as Dan Connor and Paul Posluszny" and "all business" in his preparation approach, Yancich is the "blue collar type" of linebacker who "focuses on taking care of the details of his game," and as one observer said, "has shown the patience to work his way up -- that speaks volumes to the coaches." Some observers say that Yancich has embraced the "reckless" battle cry of the linebackers and "carries that over into his style of play."

Strength: Yancich is not the strongest of the linebackers, but still has impressive strength and has good power. Observers say he's learned "to use his legs more to break off and shed blockers." He's a bit lighter than where PSU has had their middle linebackers in recent years, but that seems to be of little cocnern with most observers.

Technique: Yancich is said to have excellent tackling technique and "drives right through guys." The consensus is that although he's aggressive, he's also sound with his fundamentals.

Improvement: Aside from improving his running technique, Yancich is still working on increasing his size and strength, as well as his read-react skills, "which have improved a lot, but can always get better." The coaches are also working on having him "just trust his head, because has good instincts for the game."

Impact: With the three starters gone, Yancich is not only expected to hold his position in the two-deep, but also make strong case for the starting position. "He's one of the guys Vandy needs in the rotation to fill out the depth, but I expect him to help boost up this unit," one observer explained. is THE source for original, exclusive, inside coverage of Penn State football.


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