Big 33 Preparations Underway

Teams from Ohio and Pennsylvania are gathered in Hershey this week as preparations are underway for the 53rd annual Big 33 Classic.

HERSHEY, Pa. — The Pennsylvania squad hopes to rebound from a defeat last year at the hands of the Ohio team, but the rescheduling of Ohio's North-South Classic has allowed Ohio to send a full strength team to the Big 33 for the first time in several years.

A large number of early admissions has left Penn State represented by just four players on the 2010 Pennsylvania team, a quartet of potential defensive backs with a common goal of defeating the Ohio squad, then adding some firepower to the Nittany Lion defensive backfield.

All four of the new Nittany Lions have shown potential this week. Perhaps the most polished of the group is State College native Alex Kenney. Kenney will wear number 18 for the Big 33 Classic and could see action in the secondary and at any number of positions on offense.

Ryan Keiser of Selinsgrove is projected at safety. Keiser showed good speed in defending several passes from Pennsylvania quarterback Tyler Smith, a Maryland bound product of Wilson High. Keiser will wear jersey number 25.

Shyquawn Pullium of Erie Cathedral Prep hopes to make an impact as well in the defensive backfield. Pullium finished out the year strong and is expected to be in the fold with the Lions when fall practice opens, after earlier discussions about a potential season at Kiski Prep. Pullium will wear number 21 for the Pennsylvania squad.

A late addition to the Big 33 squad, but a player with a fierce attitude, is Jonathan Duckett of Bishop McDevitt. Duckett looks the part of a football player, and is hopeful that he will make an early impact for the Lions. Projected as an athlete at Penn State, Duckett will wear number 30.

Playing through an intermittent drizzle, the Pennsylvania and Ohio teams worked through their drills and then put their teams on display, working through a good part of their playbooks. While the Ohio team has superior overall talent, the Pennsylvania team practiced with intensity and attention to detail. Wisconsin bound linebacker Manasseh Garner is the real deal, and will be a force for the Nittany Lions to deal with in upcoming years in the Big Ten. Quarterback Smith looked cool and poised in the pocket, but his soft touch led to several underthrows, at least one of which was picked off by the Pennsylvania defensive backfield. Smith is backed up by Pitt bound Anthony Gonzalez of Liberty High.

FightOnState spoke with each of the four Penn State representatives before lunch outside Lower Dauphin High, a new location for Big 33 week practice headquarters, as the athletic fields at long time home Hershey are being renovated this summer. The two working fields at Lower Dauphin are separated only by a field house, making it easy to observe both groups going through their paces. We'll be posting some short video clips from each of the new Lions, and bringing you additional coverage over the next couple of days, and we'll be back in Hershey for tomorrow's practice sessions when the teams are expected to have their full playbooks in play. The last of the Penn State representatives

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