Both enrolled early at PSU, heading to Happy Valley not long after the game.
Khairi Fortt enjoyed a solid senior season despite an injury which slowed him in the middle part of the year, and Silas Redd sizzled in New England and was a finalist for the U.S. Army Player of the Year award. During bowl week, both players blogged about their experiences for the Stamford Advocate, a daily newspaper in the state.
FightOnState.com had the chance to grab the thoughts of John Schmid, Director of Player Personnel for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. A former college offensive coordinator and also a track coach, Schmid is a constant presence at events, combines and showcases, always in his black bowl polo shirt, khaki shorts and crumpled up roster of players tucked under his arm. Schmid shares his thoughts on Fortt and Redd, whom he was tracking closely this time last year.
FightOnState.com: Having had the chance to see both Khairi and Silas at Football University's Top Gun last summer, what were your thoughts and impressions on both?
Schmid: My first thoughts that they were true football players. They showed up worked hard, performed well, and did not get caught up in trash talking. They are both excellent football players, but even better people.
FightOnState.com: Did it surprise you that two players from the "Nutmeg State" who lived just a few miles from each other, ended up being U.S. Army All-Americans?
Schmid: If you told me before the selection process we would have two players from Connecticut selected I would have found it hard to believe. But after seeing them on film and in person, it was easy to see they belonged in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
FightOnState.com: The reputation of PSU as "Linebacker U." certainly puts pressure on anyone who comes into the school at that position. How do you think Fortt will progress and is he, in your opinion, a candidate for early playing time?
Schmid: I do think Khairi could compete for some early playing time, but a lot depends on what PSU has returning at linebacker. Obviously they always have a nice stable of linebackers, so it might be tough to see time at the position as a freshman, but I could see him being a contributor on special teams.
FightOnState.com: A lot of people are talking about Redd as an impact freshman. Do you see him as a feature back?
Schmid: Nowadays you do not see major colleges or the pros just use one back. I think Penn State does a great job of evaluating what a player can do and creating a package for them to excel. So I do see him making a contribution in some way as a freshman. It will be interesting to see how they use him.
FightOnState.com: Having attended many showcases, camps and combines this spring, is there one player you've seen who may be a bit under the radar but will blossom into a big-time recruit and college player?
Schmid: The guy that has a lot of offers, but is not getting ranked as high right now by many, is linebacker Tony Steward from Pedro Menendez High School in St. Augustine, Fla. I think when it is all said and done, he may be the most talented linebacker in the country.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for questions, comments and crude remarks at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012