Chat with Josh Moyer
Welcome to NittanyNation! On Friday, reporter Josh Moyer stops by to chat about the state of Penn State football.
Moyer joined ESPN.com in 2012 after previously working for The Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Send your questions now and join Moyer Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:59 PM)
Hey guys, we'll get started in just a minute here. Thanks for joining us this week! Send in those questions!
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:01 PM)
OK ... and we're off. Who's got the first question this week?
Andrew (Highland Park)
Why do you think BOB has been focusing on RB so much? RB seems like the position most likely, given BOB's past success with "non-elite" RBs, to come from run-ons/walk-ons. Couldn't those scholarships be better used for other positions?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:03 PM)
I think O'Brien's been focusing on RB -- and now has two RB commitments -- because of the lack of depth at that position. Last season, PSU had to turn toward its fifth-string tailback. This year, PSU has just three scholarship running backs on the roster -- Zwinak, Lynch and Belton. (Anderson is playing WR.) Plus, Zwinak is great but doesn't fit the scheme. Nick Scott and Mark Allen definitely do. Finding a future starter in a run-on is no easy task; Derek Day didn't exactly light the team on fire last season. So I really think two RBs were needed here, especially with Anderson in the slot.
Will (Wilkes Barre)
Who do you think will be the next commit? & Will we take a QB in this class?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:06 PM)
Well, I think there's a couple guys with high interest. DTs Ricky Walker and Jeremiah Clarke are really high on PSU -- especially Clarke -- but I think PSU just takes one there. WR De'Andre Thompkins is also visiting with his dad, football coach and basketball coach on April 19-20. And I think that a commitment could definitely be coming there. Those are the first few names that come to mind, and I really think at least two of those three could be in blue-and-white eventually. As far as QB, I didn't think they were really serious about a QB recruit with three scholarship players on the roster already ... I still think it's more of a wait-and-see approach with how Bench and Ferguson develop this spring. I don't think they'll take a QB just to fill a quota; it either has to be a pretty elite one and then MAYBE they offer a written scholarship.
Rob Passaro (Morristown, NJ)
Josh, won't be able to join the chat today, busy day in the office, just wanted to find out if you have heard anything more regarding other schools contacting our players who are eligible to transfer without penalty...any idea who might be the prime candidates to transfer based on where they may end up on the post-spring practice depth chart? Thanks, look forward to reading the chat recap later tonight!
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:09 PM)
Well, no one appears to have left the roster since winter break when Curtis Dukes and Brennan Franklin left. (No big deal there.) But you're right; the spring depth chart will play a big role in whether some guys leave. I don't know why Zettel was on the third team, so I want to keep a close eye on that ... but all of the other big-name guys, the Mike Hulls and Allen Robinsons, are starting. Maybe you'll have another Buckley-type transfer, but I don't think you'll see one as valuable as Silas Redd. The Supa Six have assured me they're all staying put.
Jean Baptiste (State College)
Why was BOB quick to push Nyeem Wartman as a possible starter at OLB when they also have Gary Wooten ! Who looked as good as anybody on high school tapes ! Is he underperforming ?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:12 PM)
Well, they're both part of the 2013 class and I think Wooten is one year older than Wartman ... so it's not that drastic of a difference. With Ben Kline's injury, someone had to step up -- and, quite frankly, Wartman is just the better player. O'Brien's sung his praises quite a bit, and he blocked that punt last season before an injury early in the season put him out. Wooten will see situational playing time, but I think it would've been a Kline-Wartman race. I haven't heard much about Wooten, to be honest.
Brian (State College) [via mobile]
How many more Linebackers do you think PSU will take in this class?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:15 PM)
Troy Reeder can play MLB, so I think they'll take one OLB. So, at this point, I think they're shooting for two total linebackers. With the limited scholarships, it might be hard to take three. Despite the current lack of depth at LB, they'll have have eight scholarship 'backers on the roster next year if they take two this season. That's not terrible.
any depth chart changes in the first week of spring ball?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:16 PM)
Ty Howle was at starting center, I believe Baublitz was starting at DT, and Jordan Lucas was practicing ahead of DaQuan Davis. Those were the main changes I saw. Obviously there's quite a long way to go; that just came from the very first spring practice.
Thanks for the always stellar reporting. What do you make of Jim Delaney's comments about the B10 deemphasizing athletics in the future ala the Ivy? Has anyone inside PSU publicly commented on this?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:20 PM)
Quite frankly, I don't buy it. At all. I think he's absolutely full of it. As long as the B1G has its own TV network and several football schools are among the nation's most profitable when it comes to athletics, there's no way the B1G goes the likes of Div. III. I think Ohio State, Michigan and PSU would sooner go independent. You don't often see conferences put academics in front of athletics when it would have such a negative impact on school finances.
sean (state college)
How much of a chance do you think Hackenberg actually has to start?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:23 PM)
Not very big. I know everyone likes to make the Rob Bolden comparisons, but I don't think that's very analogous. First of all, Bolden was a dual-threat guy so he could improvise. History's shown dual-threat QBs can adjust easier (look at Matt Stafford's first-year numbers compared to Terrelle Pryor's.) Second of all, PSU's playbook now is a lot more complicated than it was under Jay Paterno and Galen Hall. Quarterbacks do not fare well in rookie campaigns, especially when they don't enroll early. Hack is doing everything he can to prepare himself, but he's not Superman. Doing this, he told me earlier this week, is a little more difficult than he imagined. I'm sure it'll get easier for him, but I can't see him surpassing Bench, who's had a lot more time to get comfortable with wide receivers' timing, the offense's rhythm and the playbook/reading defenses.
JJ (HAPPY VALLEY)
What offensive linemen have visited Penn St. already, and will any of them commit soon? What did they think of their visits?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:26 PM)
Well, there's a couple here -- but let's pinpoint three: Eluemunor, Beh, Grimm. I figured Jermaine Eluemunor would be blown away by his visit if, for no other reason, because he had never before visited a four-year college campus before. I think PSU stands well with him, and he'll visit for the Blue-White Game. He could really be a Day 1 starter, and he could wind up committing somewhere sooner than later. I haven't talked to Noah Beh in awhile, but he was a little stressed because he knew he had to accept a PSU offer pretty quickly because he might miss out otherwise. He hasn't committed yet, but he's another name to watch out for. Mike Grimm is still waiting in the wings, too, and he told me awhile ago that PSU and Pitt were his favorites ... so I think he has the potential to act quick if PSU offered him.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:27 PM)
I guess I should clarify: Eluemunor and Beh have scholarship offers. Grimm does not.
Brian (State College) [via mobile]
What positions will PSU be relying on Run-Ons the most in this recruiting class?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:31 PM)
Hmmm ... that's a good question, Brian. I don't think they need many more WRs or QBs. Linemen are always at a premium, though, and I think you'll see more LBs and DBs taken this season. LBs are also pretty ideal for special teams, so run-ons there are twice as valuable. Obviously, it's pretty hard to start at LBU as a run-on so, when they take those guys, it's mainly for special teams and the scout team. Al
@ChiTownLionPSU (Chicago, IL)
Would you agree that @DesmondHoward sounds a little hypocritical bashing Penn State for Jerry Sandusky without acknowledging Michigan's coverup of pedophile Stephen Jenson at @MottChildren Hospital?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:33 PM)
I don't know nearly as much about the Jenson scandal, other than Michigan not really acting until PSU got in so much trouble ... so I don't really feel comfortable making that connection. But I will say this: I think, as time's passed, and people have had a chance to really look back at everything, I think many are slowly coming to the realization that Paterno and this football staff weren't these evil, one-sided beings who put football ahead of everything. It's not as black-and-white as all that. Could Paterno have done more? You bet. Did he single-handedly enable Sandusky to molest children? Heck no. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a great piece on how pedophiles are able to manipulate those around them and compared it to the PSU case. If you haven't read that yet, I highly suggest you google it. I think it's probably the best thing written on the subject since the Sandusky scandal broke.
Brian (Portland, Ore)
Hey Josh - there are a lot of names floating around in regards to safety and d-back recruits. Who would be at the top of the list for PSU right now? And who are they most likely to get?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:35 PM)
Jabrill Peppers is the BIG NAME that PSU would love to get. He's a cornerback, and he's not just the top CB on PSU's list -- but he's the top overall player. O'Brien told him he has the ability to line up on both sides of the ball, and he'd be an absolutely huge catch for the staff. He'd be just as big as Hackenberg ...
What chance does PSU have to get Jabrill Peppers?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:37 PM)
Well, although PSU loves him, he's not as in love with PSU. He didn't even intially have PSU in his top 10, but his coach persuaded him to go on a visit a few weeks back because he figured Peppers would like it. And Peppers really did; he tweeted how PSU MIGHT even be in his top-5 after that. As of right now, however, PSU is not his top-4. His coach told me Peppers will definitely visit PSU again, so his recruitment isn't over by a long-shot ... but I don't think PSU's odds here are very high. Two months ago, it might've been 1,000-to-1. After that visit, maybe something like 20-to-1. It really, really did help.
Which Wide Receiver do we have the best chance of getting?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:39 PM)
I kind of alluded to it earlier, but I'd say Thompkins at this point. His coach really likes PSU, and despite living about an eight-hour drive from campus, there's a lot of PSU alumni around him. He's heard a lot about the school, enjoyed his visit for the Wisconsin game and I'd be more surprised if he wasn't a Nittany Lion by mid-May than I would if he was.
Sam (Washington DC)
Is Snodgrass basically a lock to UK, or is PSU still in play?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:40 PM)
I don't think he really has a legit offer from Penn State ... He's not one of the top guys on Penn State's board. They'd much prefer Godwin, Thompkins or Troy Apke. I doubt they'd take more than one WR, so I don't think they'd really push for Snodgrass until those guys are off the table.
Brian (State College) [via mobile]
With the depth at Tight End, do you think Adam Breneman will Redshirt?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:43 PM)
I think that would make the most sense. O'Brien's said he doesn't want to play a freshman unless he's going to see a lot of time. We saw him redshirt a lot of the class last season -- and, granted, that'll be harder to do this year because of overall depth -- but depth isn't a problem at tight end. Is Breneman better than Kyle Carter at this point? No. He'd be splitting time with James and Lehman, so I think a redshirt season for him would be best. I do think he'll redshirt.
Ian PSU LOVER! (University Park, PA)
Who do you think the next commit will be and if you had to take a guess who this year's headliner of the class would be what would you say?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:46 PM)
Well, I've talked a lot about the next commit but, as far as the future headliner, I think there's a couple guys who could fit that title. For one, Troy Reeder is an absolute beast and I'm curious to see how our scouts end up rating him. As far as the highest-rated players that PSU has a shot at, there's probably DT Thomas Holley, OL Quentin Nelson, WR Thompkins, OT Eluemunor, S Montae Nicholson and S Marcus Allen.
Golden (Philadelphia, PA)
Do you know of any 'Parker Cothren type' recruits that are receiving attention from the PSU staff?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:50 PM)
Hmmm ... see, that's easier to answer in the fall when you see where they're rated and what type of interest they have. At this point, though, the first name that comes to mind is Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep DB Felix Manus-Schell. He was invited to a spring practice in the near future, and the Nittany Lions are his top school. I think he's probably more of a run-on candidate, but PSU's showing him a lot more love than other schools.
Aaron, Burke Va [via mobile]
We list two punt snappers last year and I thought Joe Marvin would be the guy this year, especially being near 250 pounds. I dont see him on the roster anymore but I know he is still on campus. Did he leave the team or was he cut? Thanks,
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:52 PM)
You know, that's a really good question -- because I hadn't noticed that. I'll look into it. Howle could also be a long-snapper, and incoming run-on Sean Corcoran plays just at long-snapper. The staff told him last fall that he'd compete for the starting job once he came in.
JJ (HAPPY VALLEY)
Anyone really looking impressive at spring practice?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:54 PM)
Well, I've heard that Adrian Amos is really impressing a lot of people early on. Looks like he's ready to step up in Stephon Morris' absence and has turned heads with his man-to-man coverage. Obviously, we heard a lot about him last season ... so this could be a breakout year for him.
If there are only three runningbacks on the roster on scholarship, what happens if those players are injured?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:58 PM)
Well, Richy Anderson could always be plugged in. But, when I was at practice, I noticed that -- besides the three scholarship players taking hand-offs -- there were also Deron Thompson and Jack Haffner. Thompson appeared to be the No. 4 guy, and Haffner was No. 5. Haffner is actually listed as a fullback, but he's only 208 pounds.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:59 PM)
OK, guys, that's all the time we have for this week. Thanks a lot for joining us -- and hopefully I'll see you all again April 5. Have a good weekend!