Big Ten: Tyrell Sales

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The superlatives pick up today with Big Ten co-champ Penn State, which will be one of the more intriguing teams to watch this spring. Penn State lost quite a bit at defensive back, wide receiver and offensive line, and the early departures of Aaron Maybin and Maurice Evans created a hole at defensive end. Then again, D-line coach Larry Johnson seems to produce star pass rushers every year.

There were some tough choices here. 

Strongest position -- Linebacker

Key returnees: Junior Navorro Bowman, senior Sean Lee, senior Josh Hull, sophomore Michael Mauti

Key departures: Tyrell Sales (68 tackles, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles)

The skinny: Lee's return from a torn ACL gives Penn State the league's top linebacking corps entering the fall. Bowman earned first-team All-Big Ten honors following a monster sophomore season in which he tallied 106 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. If the Nittany Lions get decent production at the third linebacker spot from Hull, Mauti or someone else, they should be extremely tough against the run and active against the pass. Other strong positions include running back, defensive tackle and tight end. 

Weakest position -- Defensive back

Key returnees: Senior cornerback A.J. Wallace, sophomore safety Drew Astorino, senior safety/cornerback Knowledge Timmons

Key departures: Cornerback Lydell Sargeant (4 interceptions, 13 pass deflections), safety Anthony Scirrotto (61 tackles, 2 interceptions, 7 pass deflections), safety Mark Rubin (60 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble), cornerback Tony Davis (46 tackles, 1 interception)

The skinny: Several other positions could qualify here, but Penn State has a history of producing top defensive ends and should boast enough talent at wide receiver and offensive line to survive the losses of several multiyear starters. The bottom line is USC exposed Penn State's secondary as a major weakness in the Rose Bowl, and the Nittany Lions lose all four starters there. If last year's secondary was the best the Lions had to offer, this year's group could be in trouble. Penn State really needs players like Wallace and Astorino to step up this spring. 

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Penn State backup linebacker Bani Gbadyu didn't make the trip to California for the Rose Bowl because of academic issues. 

Gbadyu appeared in 10 games this season, recording 25 tackles and an interception. His absence likely means more playing time for promising freshman Michael Mauti, who had 24 tackles and a forced fumble this season. 

Navorro Bowman, Tyrell Sales and Josh Hull form the Lions' top linebacking corps against USC.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- In many ways, the third quarter encapsulated Iowa's season.

The Hawkeyes showed flashes of a team that should be much better than its 5-4 record. And then they showed exactly why they're 5-4.

Quarterback Ricky Stanzi committed two turnovers in his own territory that led to 10 Penn State points in the quarter. Stanzi responded nicely from the first error, an ill-fated pass that Tyrell Sales picked off, and led an impressive 73-yard scoring drive that displayed greater balance. Iowa went to the air and got wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos involved.

But with all the momentum on Iowa's side and the green-and-black-clad crowd revved up, Stanzi fumbled a snap and Penn State linebacker Josh Hull pounced on it.

The Lions running game went to work and Derrick Williams continued his splendid afternoon with a 9-yard score after taking the direct snap. The rushing combination of Williams and Evan Royster has overpowered Iowa's talented defensive front.

As it has all season, Penn State made an opponent pay for unforced mistakes. There's a reason Penn State is tied for 14th nationally in turnover margin. This team doesn't beat itself. Iowa does.

Big Ten internal affairs: Week 9

October, 22, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

It's time to look inside five Big Ten teams.

Penn State -- Despite Navorro Bowman's emergence, there has been some concern about linebacker play this year, and the picture only got cloudier last Saturday. After Michigan's run game started strong, the Nittany Lions called for reinforcements and put freshman Michael Mauti and sophomore Bani Gbadyu in the game. The two young players stepped up, combining for 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Both Mauti and Gbadyu could once again see increased playing time in place of Tyrell Sales and possibly Josh Hull against No. 9 Ohio State (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). Mauti's speed on the edge should help against Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Wisconsin -- A week after saying the 2009 season had no impact on his starting quarterback decision, Badgers head coach Bret Bielema certainly appears to be looking toward the future at that position. Junior quarterback Dustin Sherer will make his second consecutive start Saturday against Illinois, and sophomore Scott Tolzien will take more snaps this week in practice with the second-team offense. Fifth-year senior Allan Evridge, who started Wisconsin's first six games, has effectively been moved to third string. Sherer and Tolzien will compete for the starting job next season with Curt Phillips and James Stallons.

Illinois -- Freshman offensive tackle Corey Lewis could see increased playing time against Wisconsin after performing well in his debut against Indiana. Lewis can play either tackle spot and spelled left tackle Xavier Fulton for several series last week. Sophomore Ryan Palmer will remain sidelined for some time with a foot stress fracture, and Lewis likely will be needed against the Badgers. Lewis also can play on the defensive line. "I wanted to get Corey in there," head coach Ron Zook said. "We kind of joked about that when we told him we were going to play him because he's 18 now and old enough. He's excited about it and I noticed a little different intensity out of him."

Purdue -- Head coach Joe Tiller admitted this week that Purdue's offense has become too basic and needs to diversify after four straight losses. In previous years, the Boilermakers entered every game with two "deceptives" in the offensive plan. This season, the outside-the-box, high-risk, high-reward plays have not been included. That will change Saturday against Minnesota (ESPN Classic, noon ET). "From this point forward I want to see, when the game plan is presented later in the week, two deceptives," Tiller said. "Now, I'm not guaranteeing you they're going to get called, but we're going to have 'em as a possibility anyway, which we haven't had." Purdue ranks ninth in the league in scoring offense (22.3 ppg).

Michigan -- Despite a third consecutive loss, the Wolverines might have found their featured running back last Saturday at Penn State. Junior Brandon Minor had 117 rush yards and two touchdowns against the Big Ten's No. 2 rush defense (103.9 ypg). Minor's emergence allows head coach Rich Rodriguez to take pressure off of true freshman Sam McGuffie and, to a lesser extent, true freshman Michael Shaw. McGuffie has carried the load for much of the season but needs more time to grow into a top role. Minor's ability to run inside and grind out yards will benefit Michigan down the stretch. The junior claimed the top spot on this week's depth chart.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

A couple of newsy nuggets from Penn State today.

Head coach Joe Paterno will have his injured right hip examined next week when Penn State has a bye. Paterno, who suffered the injury during the preseason while demonstrating an onside kick, has coached the last three games from the press box. Normally a coach's injury wouldn't attract so much attention, but this is an 81-year-old coaching legend without a contract for 2009. If anything forces JoePa to step away, it could be his health.

Starting safety Anthony Scirrotto expects to play Saturday against No. 9 Ohio State (ABC, 8 p.m. ET) despite sustaining a concussion last week against Michigan. Scirrotto is practicing and had tests performed Tuesday, but he's still listed as questionable for the game. Paterno is keeping his fingers crossed that Scirrotto, the team's third-leading tackler (41), will be cleared.

Penn State guard Stefen Wisniewski will be fine for the game despite a sprained knee.

Paterno didn't say whether Michael Mauti and Bani Gbadyu would continue to see time in place of Tyrell Sales and Josh Hull against the Buckeyes. Mauti and Gbadyu replaced the two starters against Michigan and performed well.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The timing was right, and Joe Paterno didn't hesitate to bring it up.

Penn State had just completed a 48-7 rout of Wisconsin last Saturday, the team's fourth victory by 40 points or more this season. The Lions would immediately be called a national championship contender and the team to beat in the Big Ten.

Many around the program would peek ahead to Oct. 25 and a trip to Ohio State, but Paterno reminded his players of their more immediate business.

"I said, 'Hey, I hope you guys don't fall asleep and think that because we beat Wisconsin in pretty good shape and Michigan had some problems that it's going to be an easy football game,'" Paterno said. "'You've got to remember. These guys have beat us nine years in a row. They know how to beat us. We better be ready to go.'

"In that sense, I brought it up, but that's about the only time I'll probably bring it up."

The Lions' nine-game losing streak will be brought up throughout the week before sputtering Michigan visits Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon (ESPN, 4:30 p.m. ET). Michigan's run of success is by far the longest for one team against Paterno and Penn State.

"It's almost hard to comprehend," Lions linebacker Tyrell Sales said. "Penn State's a good program. We've had a lot of success. To think that we haven't been able to get one against Michigan in 12 years, it's almost unbelievable."

(Read full post)

Three questions for Penn State

August, 27, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

I didn't get a chance to make it to Happy Valley during the preseason, but now that the quarterback situation is settled, it's time to take a look at Penn State. Here are three questions facing the Nittany Lions this fall.

1. Did Penn State make the right call with Daryll Clark at quarterback?

Clark has the right mix of size, speed, arm strength and intangibles to effectively run the Nittany Lions new offense, the Spread HD. Those expecting a reincarnation of Michael Robinson might be disappointed, but Clark should be able to manage an offense stacked with weapons at wide receiver and running back. Penn State coach Joe Paterno said sophomore Pat Devlin also likely will play this fall, which isn't a bad idea, but Clark will get the first opportunity. The 6-2 senior doesn't lack confidence and projects as a strong vocal leader, which should help him transition to the top spot and earn his teammates' respect.

2. How will the recent off-field incidents and the speculation about Paterno's future affect the team?

If things go bad early on, some of those distractions could creep in for Penn State, but the team has good senior leadership in players like A.Q. Shipley, Josh Gaines and Derrick Williams. The Nittany Lions can't afford any more disciplinary incidents after a well-publicized offseason in the blotter, and it will be up to the captains to maintain order. The Paterno questions could crop up more toward the end of the season, especially if the team is struggling. Players maintain they don't worry about the 81-year-old coach, but constantly getting asked to speculate about his future could take a toll.

3. Who will step up on defense after the season-ending injury to star linebacker Sean Lee?

Penn State still should have one of the Big Ten's best defenses despite the loss of Lee. Junior defensive end Maurice Evans is on the cusp of a monster season after collecting 21.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks last fall. Safety Anthony Scirrotto will be fully focused after dealing with his own off-field problems last season and should lead Penn State in interceptions for the third consecutive year. If the Lions get good leadership from Tyrell Sales and production from former walk-on Josh Hull and promising sophomores Chris Colasanti and Bani Gbadyu, the linebacker corps won't be an issue.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

I didn't get around to breaking down every depth chart released Monday, so let's do it. Wisconsin's and Iowa's came out last week, and there were no major changes there. Still waiting for Michigan State and Minnesota (Purdue doesn't play until Week 2).


  • As stated earlier, quarterbacks Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin are both listed as potential starters.
  • Andrew Quarless is listed as the third-string tight end behind Mickey Shuler and Andrew Szczerba. Quarless, a former starter, was suspended for spring practice following a DUI arrest and has had several off-field problems at Penn State.
  • Cornerback Tony Davis secured a starting job, and the other cornerback spot will go to Lydell Sargeant or A.J. Wallace. Sargeant started the first 10 games at cornerback last year and looked to be the starter with Wallace, instead of competing against him.
  • Sophomores Ollie Ogbu and Abe Koroma are listed as the starters at the defensive tackle spot, which was thinned by two dismissals and an injury to Devon Still. Junior Jared Odrick is listed as Koroma's backup and likely will play plenty this fall.
  • Tyrell Sales and Bani Gbadyu are listed as the starting outside linebackers, with Josh Hull in the middle. Promising sophomore Chris Colasanti is listed as Hull's backup.
  • Evan Royster remains the top running back with speedy redshirt freshman Stephfon Green behind him.
  • Junior Dennis Landolt is listed as both the starting right tackle and the backup left tackle behind Gerald Cadogan.


  • As expected, junior Daniel Dufrene is listed as the starting running back ahead of Troy Pollard. Freshmen Jason Ford and Mikel LeShoure continue to compete for the third-string spot.
  • Junior Chris Duvalt and sophomore Chris James have joined Arrelious Benn as starters at wide receiver. Sophomore walk-on Alex Reavy is listed as Benn's backup, and freshmen Fred Sykes, Cordale Scott and A.J. Jenkins all are on the two-deep.
  • A bit of a surprise as both Doug Pilcher and Derek Walker are listed as starters at defensive end opposite Will Davis. The "OR" designation is common for depth charts, but you don't usually see "AND" separating two possible starters. Walker has started the last three seasons but could play less with Pilcher's emergence and greater depth on the line.
  • Sophomores Bo Flowers and Travon Bellamy secured the starting safety spots. Bellamy was a shoo-in, but Fowers beat out Nate Bussey and Donsay Hardeman for the job.
  • Sophomore Josh Brent will start at defensive tackle following Sirod Williams' season-ending knee injury. Freshman Cory Liuget is listed as the backup at the other tackle spot.
  • Four players remain in the mix for the starting place-kicker spot, with freshman Derek Dimke listed first.

There were a couple of notes from Wisconsin's news conference Monday.

  • Cornerback Aaron Henry (knee) will miss the opener against Akron, and freshman linebacker Kevin Rouse will miss the majority of the season following shoulder surgery. Tight end Travis Beckum (hamstring), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (knee), fullback Chris Pressley (thumb) and cornerback Antonio Fenelus (ankle) could play Saturday and will be evaluated later in the week.
  • Offensive linemen Jake Current and Kevin Zeitler, running back Bradie Ewing, tight end Jake Byrne, defensive end Brendan Kelly, punter Brad Nortman and defensive back Kevin Claxton are the freshmen expected to play this fall.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue's media day begins later Thursday morning, and I'll be there to check in with Heisman candidate Curtis Painter, coach-in-waiting Danny Hope and the rest of the Boilers.

First, I give you the links on the other 10 teams. 

  • My appearance at Camp Rantoul made Bob Asmussen's daily practice recap in The [Champaign, Ill.] News-Gazette. Thanks, Bob. Much more newsworthy items include a note on Illinois center Ryan McDonald and the fact several projected starters will appear on special teams this fall. Zook's best recruits at Illinois have come from the Washington, D.C., area, but he's also going back to his Ohio roots for talent. No big secret here, but the 2008 season hinges heavily on quarterback Juice Williams.  
  • Forget about Iowa's history of bouncing back from bad seasons on and off the field. Want a reason to be optimistic about the Hawkeyes? Wide receiver Andy Brodell is back in the fold, Susan Harman writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Brodell is a difference-maker. Forbes magazine calls Iowa's Kirk Ferentz the worst value in college football, given his salary. I still think Iowa had to finalize Ferentz's contract at the time.
"The most overpaid coach is Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, who made $3.4 million last year despite lackluster results on the field, for a score of 71. Just how lopsided is Ferentz's deal? During the last three years he's pocketed $10 million, including a record $4.7 million in 2006, but has led the Hawkeyes to just a 19-18 record."
  • Mitchell Evans came to Indiana with an open-minded attitude about where he'd play. The Hoosiers are putting that approach to the test by moving Evans to wide receiver, Terry Hutchens writes in The Indianapolis Star. A couple of more previews on Indiana, which wants to get back to a bowl game and win it this time.
  • Rich Rodriguez might not be beloved on the practice field, but he also keeps his door open for his new players, the AP's Larry Lage writes. Nebraska's Bo Pelini isn't the only big-time coach looking to rebuild the walk-on program at his school. RichRod wants all the help he can get, John Heuser writes in The Ann Arbor News. 
  • Michigan State running back A.J. Jimmerson is no stranger to competition at his position, Chris Solari writes in the Lansing State Journal. A nationally televised opener at Cal gives the Spartans a chance to make an early statement, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press.
  • Running back is a big concern at Minnesota, but a healthy Jay Thomas should help matters, Myron Medcalf writes in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. Two years ago, Jeff Tow-Arnett and Adam Weber worked on the quarterback-center exchange as young scout teamers at Minnesota. Now they're in the spotlight as starters, Marcus Fuller writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • The Chicago Sun-Times' Jim O'Donnell checks in from Camp Kenosha, where Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald sees his defense improving and his new-look offensive line coming together. The Wildcats' bowl hopes hinge heavily on senior quarterback C.J. Bacher, Jay Taft writes in the Rockford Register Star.
  • Despite two national title misses, Ohio State's coaches aren't concerning themselves with the past, Rob Oller writes in the Columbus Dispatch. Probably a good thing. Defensive tackle could be a weak spot for the Buckeyes, but defensive coordinator Jim Heacock likes what he has, The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises writes in his blog. Buckeyes center Jim Cordle could fool defenders at the line by snapping the ball with both hands, Ken Gordon writes in the Columbus Dispatch.
  • Tyrell Sales is filling some big shoes as Penn State's linebacker leader, Ron Musselman writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The starters look set in Penn State's secondary, but watch out for reserve safety Drew Astorino, The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News' Bob Flounders writes in his blog. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane has a rundown of the improvements at Beaver Stadium this fall.
  • Wisconsin cornerbacks Allen Langford and Aaron Henry have walked parallel paths following ACL surgery. Both men are back in the mix for starting jobs, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Defensive end O'Brien Schofield, a projected starter opposite Matt Shaughnessy, will miss 1-2 weeks of practice after suffering an ankle injury. End Kirk DeCremer remained out of both Wednesday practices, while quarterback Allan Evridge could return today, Potrykus writes in the Badgers Blog.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Northwestern media day has come and gone, and I learned that at least one Big Ten coach (Pat Fitzgerald) has read the blog. Only 10 more to go.

The schedule is shaping up a bit for next week. I'll be spending Wednesday at Camp Rantoul with the Illinois Fighting Illini, before heading over to Purdue for media day on Thursday. There could also be some surprises along the way.

Here's your daily diet of links:

  • If you're just waking up, Ohio State defensive backs Donald Washington and Jamario O'Neal have been suspended for the first two games of the season. Not a major blow, given that they'll be back for USC, but it could shake up the dynamic in the secondary.
  • Oh, and some guy named Terrelle Pryor spoke with reporters at Ohio State media day. He was a pretty popular man, Paul Schofield writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Items of note: Pryor rooms with starting quarterback Todd Boeckman, gets a lot of reps in practice and likes hanging out with the older players.
  • More on Ohio State media day from The Columbus Dispatch's Buckeye Blog. Left tackle Alex Boone knows how to roundup the linemen -- "If you're big and fat, let's go" -- a group that includes Michigan transfer Justin Boren.
  • Wisconsin star tight end Travis Beckum sat out Thursday's practice with "tightness in his lower body," but it doesn't appear to be too serious, Jim Polzin writes in The Capital Times. Also, defensive lineman Brandon Hoey's career is over after lingering back problems.
  • The Badgers seem pretty solid at outside linebacker, but the middle is a concern. Enter Jaevery McFadden, who could unseat incumbent Elijah Hodge for the job, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus writes in the Badgers Blog.
  • Apparently Akron doesn't like its chances to upset Wisconsin on Aug. 30. The school gave back some of its allotted tickets, so get 'em while they're available.
  • Strong defense is a given at Penn State, but a strong season hinges on whether the offense can make up ground, Jeff Rice writes in the Centre Daily Times.
"Penn State has scored a total of six points in its last two trips to Camp Randall Stadium, where it faces Wisconsin on Oct. 11. It has scored a total of 23 points in its last three visits to Ohio Stadium, where it will face the Buckeyes on Oct. 25."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The position rankings resume with the linebackers, which is usually a strong position in the Big Ten but one that lacks headliners this season. Ohio State boasts two standouts in preseason Defensive Player of the Year James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman, but most teams welcome new players to their defensive midsection. Illinois lost All-American middle linebacker J Leman, Michigan lost backfield beast Shawn Crable and Penn State lost standout Sean Lee to a season-ending knee injury this spring. But I'll get to the individuals later.

Here's a look at the linebacker groups in the Big Ten:

1. Ohio State -- Laurinaitis and Freeman passed up the NFL for one final season together and one final stab at the national championship. The star tandem has combined for 429 career tackles, easily putting Ohio State in the top spot for linebackers. Sophomore Ross Homan, a candidate for the third starting spot, could be the next great Buckeyes linebacker.

2. Wisconsin -- This group admittedly underachieved a bit last season, but better things are on the way with all three starters back. Senior Jonathan Casillas led the team in tackles last season and looks to regain his playmaking form of 2006, when he had a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss. DeAndre Levy provides leadership and should flourish under new coordinator Dave Doeren.

3. Illinois -- Leman's production can't be replaced and Illinois also lost second-leading tackler Antonio Steele, but there is plenty left over at linebacker. Veteran Brit Miller, who has slimmed down this offseason, slides over to middle linebacker, a position he's played before. Miller has the personality to lead and will be able to mentor highly touted sophomore Martez Wilson.

4. Penn State -- The Lions undoubtedly would have been higher with Lee leading the way, but they still have some playmakers here. Penn State needs big things from veteran outside linebacker Tyrell Sales, who had three sacks last season. Promising sophomore Chris Colasanti will play a larger role along with junior Josh Hull, who appeared in every game last fall.

5. Indiana -- Despite boasting the league's best pass rusher in end Greg Middleton, Indiana's campaign for a better defense hinges on this unit. Incumbents Will Patterson and Geno Johnson return, and there's plenty of buzz about junior Matt Mayberry. Patterson recorded three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries last season.

6. Michigan -- This appears to be the weak point of the Wolverines defense, which will miss All-Big Ten selection Crable and Chris Graham. But Obi Ezeh has experience at middle linebacker and will be pushed by John Thompson. Sophomores Marell Evans and Jonas Mouton bring speed to the weak side.

7. Iowa -- A.J. Edds is a budding star at outside linebacker after ranking second on the team in tackles last season. But after Edds, there are questions. The Hawkeyes must replace two productive players in Mike Humpal and Mike Klinkenborg and need promising sophomores Jacody Coleman, Jeff Tarpinian and Jeremiha Hunter to step up.

8. Michigan State -- Here's another young group that could finish higher but needs more than one proven commodity. Greg Jones is on his way to a stellar career after a strong freshman season. His move to the middle should help the Spartans, but they need more from returning starter Eric Gordon as well as a reliable player to emerge at the third spot.

9. Purdue -- Anthony Heygood has been productive at outside linebacker, racking up 15 tackles for loss last season. If Heygood continues to cause havoc and Jason Werner takes another step after a strong spring, Purdue could soar up this list. Werner showed good durability in spring ball, but he must avoid injuries after back problems nearly ended his career.

10. Northwestern -- Linebacker is usually the strongest position group on a weak defense, but for the second straight year there are questions. The Wildcats lose Adam Kadela, the league's No. 3 tackler last season, and need Malcolm Arrington to build off a decent 2007 season as he shifts to middle linebacker. Senior Prince Kwateng hasn't reached his potential thus far, while promising young players like Bryce McNaul and Nate Williams are ready to step up.

11. Minnesota -- Despite some strong additions this offseason, last year can't be overlooked. The Gophers return experience with Steve Davis and Deon Hightower, and hopes are high for junior-college transfer Rex Sharpe. But run-stopping was a disaster in 2007, so until Minnesota shows otherwise, it will linger at the bottom.

Lift For Life recap

July, 14, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

I heard back from Uplifting Athletes executive director Scott Shirley during the weekend, and it sounded like Friday's Lift For Life event at Penn State was a success. Ninety-six players participated in the weightlifting competition, and the team has raised more than $300,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association during the event's six-year history.

Nittany Lions fans surely were thrilled to learn that Daryll Clark, considered the frontrunner for the starting quarterback spot, was part of the winning lifting team, which pulled a mini upset. Team A $M Here! A $M There! -- featuring Clark, linebacker Josh Hull and tight ends Greg Miskinis and Mickey Shuler -- edged one of the favored squads, which had defensive end Josh Gaines, center A.Q. Shipley, safety Anthony Scirrotto and linebacker Tyrell Sales.

The players also weighed in on several topics, including the off-field problems that have plagued the program and the 2009 recruiting outlook.