Big Ten: Jon Ditto
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno sounded a bit more optimistic about his team's spring progress before the annual Blue-White Game, and the Nittany Lions turned in a solid effort before a record crowd of 76,500 at Beaver Stadium. The White team edged the Blue squad 21-16.
There weren't many revelations in the spring game, though Penn State can feel a bit better about its quarterback depth heading into 2009.
First-team All-Big Ten performer Daryll Clark was terrific in limited action, completing 10 of 13 passes for 123 yards. Freshman Kevin Newsome, an early enrollee who had looked shaky earlier in spring ball, completed 9 of 13 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. And redshirt freshman Matt McGloin threw two touchdown passes and added a 28-yard run for the White team. Clark might still be the most indispensible player in the Big Ten, but the performances by both Newsome and McGloin were encouraging.
The day's biggest news involved a player who didn't take the field, first-team All-Big Ten linebacker Navorro Bowman. Paterno said the junior failed two team-issued drug tests. Earlier in the week, Bowman admitted in court to marijuana use and received an additional year of probation.
"It's a very difficult situation these days with kids," Paterno said of Bowman. "You hope that they can overcome some of the environmental problems and things that they have. You know, he's lost his father [Hillard, in 2008] and some other things. I'm just going to let it all settle down and I'll decide sometime next week."
Bowman will face further punishment from Penn State, but it doesn't sound like Paterno will do anything too drastic, especially after the player admitted to his mistake. Though Bowman has erred more than once at Penn State, I'd be surprised if he gets more than a three- or four-game suspension.
Other items from the Blue-White Game:
- Without Bowman and Sean Lee on the field, linebacker Michael Mauti finished a strong spring with four tackles in the game. Mauti was named the team's most improved defender during spring ball, and Paterno called him a "big-time player." The sophomore will be in the mix for a starting outside linebacker spot this summer. Redshirt freshman Jon Ditto also looked promising during the spring game with four tackles and a fumble recovery.
- Penn State's top three wide receivers appeared to be Derek Moye, Graham Zug and Chaz Powell, with Brett Brackett as a close fourth. Moye hauled in a 28-yard reception from Clark, while both Zug and Brackett caught touchdowns. Zug had a game-high four receptions for 62 yards. After losing three multiyear starters at wide receiver, Penn State could come out of the spring feeling good about this group.
- Talented tight end Andrew Quarless might finally be on the right track after recording four receptions for 52 yards.
- Defensive line coach Larry Johnson appears to have another budding star in defensive end Jack Crawford, who batted down a pass and showed impressive pass-rushing ability in the spring game. Defensive tackle Devon Still also recorded a tackle for loss.
- An injury-plagued spring for Penn State ended on a down note, as defensive end Pete Massaro, Brackett and tackle Ako Poti all got hurt in the Blue-White Game. Powell and cornerback A.J. Wallace returned from ailments, but Penn State's sick bay this spring included running backs Stephfon Green and Brent Carter and defensive end Jerome Hayes.