Scouting the Big Ten: Penn State

After an unexpectedly surprising campaign in 2002, one in which several senior players stepped to the forefront, Joe Pa and the fans in Happy Valley are now faced with a team devastated by graduation. The Lions had four picks in the initial frame last April with another pair off the board before the 60th selection…this year they may only have half that amount chosen in all seven rounds.

Though he did not have the breakout season we expected last season, we still feel receiver Tony Johnson has outstanding potential. The reliable handed wide out displayed a penchant in the past to get down field and make plays deep into the secondary, breaking games wide open. He also has the habit of making the acrobatic catch with regularity. What he must do this season is prove he can handle the duties of being a number one receiver. If he does, Johnson could move into the top 75.

Zack Mills is a big-armed signal caller that has done a good job leading the Lions since he was a red-shirt freshman. Mills zips the outs or drives the pass downfield. What he lacks is the pinpoint accuracy and though his passes are in the general vicinity of targets, receivers are always stretching backwards or stopping their crossing routes to make the reception. Sometimes that is a difficult skill for a passer to change but Mills must improve if he is to be considered an elite prospect before his senior campaign of 2004.

Fullback Sean McHugh looks like a guard in the offensive backfield…in fact guard may be his best pro-position. McHugh destroys defenders once engaged at the point but the big lead fullback lacks explosion, speed and has difficulty getting out ahead of ball carriers.

Coming to PSU as a major recruit, Chris McKelvey has yet to live up to his billing. Though the big-bodied blocker displayed flashes as a junior, he needs a good senior campaign to get consideration as a late round selection.

The pickins' on defense are slim thanks to graduation. Derek Wake has nice size at outside linebacker and the strength to match. Not overly explosive, Wake has the athleticism to develop into a solid prospect on the strong side.

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