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 1 p.m. ET!
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (12:59 PM)
Hey guys, we'll get started up soon here. So, get your questions in and we'll kick it off in a minute.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:01 PM)
OK -- and we're off ... thanks everybody for joining us this week. It's been a pretty notable week in the quiet part of the offseason, with PSU releasing an updated depth chart yesterday, so let's get it started. Who's got the first question?
Josh, when is Troy Vincent Jr. finally going to be making his decision? Seems like we have been expecting it for a while now.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:02 PM)
Well, I talked to Troy last week, and he definitely wants to decide before his senior season starts -- so August is the absolute latest. Ideally, he'd like to decide before this month is over. He said he's trying not to push himself too much, that he'll commit when his gut tells him it's right. He's visiting a few more schools, and I think he's just trying to reassure himself and his family that PSU's the right fit before he commits.
Most underrated recruit in '13 PSU class?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:04 PM)
I'd have to go Parker Cothren, and I go back to one specific HS game of his because of that. Cothren needs to add more weight; he won't play this year -- but he dominated against OL who were sometimes 30-40 pounds heavier. He went up against Alabama commit Grant Hill, who's 320 pounds, and really held his own. So if he can hold his own against guys like that already, I think he has a lot of potential when he gets his weight up and improves his strength. You saw late in his recruiting that a lot of top teams felt the same way because the SEC came knocking late with Cothren.
Aaron, Burke VA [via mobile]
Our DT recruiting situation seems wide open. Are we possibly going to go plan B and offer either Mokwuah, Boxen, Fields, or White?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:06 PM)
I think that's premature. PSU has four offers out to DTs already, with Holley, Walker and Clarke as their top options right now. Truth be told, PSU stands pretty good with all of them right now. So there's no way PSU extends an offer to the likes of Boxen before it sees what those other DTs do. I think PSU grabs at least one of those three. It's just a matter of who and when.
Any timetable on the Ricky Walker or Thomas Holley?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:08 PM)
Those two are both in no rush. Holley wants to take his official visits, and both should have a top five by the end of summer. Walker already told me that PSU will definitely make that short list. So, it's hard to project when those guys will commit. It's not going to be this summer, though. Clarke is hoping (key - hoping) to decide sooner those those two.
Josh, after checking out the depth chart, it was expected but why the movement of Amos from corner to safety? Amos is a very talented player who I believe has a high ceiling at the corner position. Is it his ability to make big hits and cover space the reason why they moved him to safety, or what is it?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:10 PM)
Amos played well at cornerback, but he's often been told that he's a natural at safety, that if PSU's depth wasn't a concern that that's where he'd be. He plays well in space, and he can do a little of everything. O'Brien jokingly hinted last preseason we might see Amos at linebacker, too, because the kid is that athletic. Obviously, the staff must've really liked what it saw from Trevor Williams, who's one of the starting CBs now. Williams' immediate success at CB, in my opinion, is the biggest surprise of the offseason.
Ed (Queens Village)
With B1G adding Maryland and Rutgers. Can PSU add DC and NYC to there recruiting base?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:13 PM)
I think D.C. and NY are already part of their recruiting base. You have a lot of kids around the D.C./Baltimore area who are big on Penn State, and that's kind of been a pipeline. There were a lot of Gonzaga (D.C.) High kids at PSU's camp last week, and 2015 OL Richie Petitbon already received a PSU offer. His dad's a former Maryland player, but both love PSU. So I don't think the addition of Maryland/RU will add to PSU's recruiting base ... but I do think it's an added bonus that those Maryland kids will be able to play close to home. A few have mentioned that to me.
Ryan (Youngstown, OH)
If Clarke, Holley and Walker all wanted to commit to PSU would we take 2 of them and what is the order of preference? Thanks
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:15 PM)
Hmmm ... you could come up with any order there, and it'd be hard to say it's wrong. PSU likes all three a whole lot, and they'd be happy with any commit there. At this point, my best projection would probably be Holley-Clarke-Walker. Holley's an absolute freak with loads of upside, while the staff told Clarke it would give him a heads-up if another DT would commit. That's why I'm putting Walker last. He was the first of the DTs to grab an offer, and PSU still likes him a lot. But I think he's probably a very, very close third right now.
Which WPIAL player is the best bet to come to PSU? Henry, Hooker, Bookser, or Nicholson?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:16 PM)
I said back in April that I couldn't see Bookser heading to PSU. And I still feel the same way. Out of the guys you mentioned, I think Henry is probably the most likely to come to PSU -- with Nicholson at No. 2.
Hi Josh. Tyler Ferguson is getting the same amount of time Matt McGloin had to learn Coach O'Brien's system. How would you compare Tyler's progression to where Matt was at this point last year?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:18 PM)
Ferguson is most definitely behind McGloin. I don't think it's fair to really compare the two. Yes, McGloin had one year to learn O'Brien's offense -- but he also had three previous seasons of playing against B1G defenses and knowing what to expect there. Ferguson played against juco defenses. The corners will be faster here, the linemen will be bigger, and his decisions will have to come quicker. Ferguson's obviously progressed well since he leap-frogged Bench, who had head-start, but he's still well behind McGloin.
Jake (State College)
Is it too soon to ask who you think the first class of 2015 commit might be?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:22 PM)
It is too soon, but I'll try my best here. I've said before that, if Jake Cooper gets an offer, he'll be the first commit of the 2015 class. I obviously still stand behind that, but it looks as if PSU wants to see some more film on him before it offers. It's understandable, because he hasn't played as much linebacker in high school -- and he'll be focusing on the position this season. Guys who have offers right now who seem to have the most interest in PSU? I'd probably go with OL Richie Petitbon and DE Darius Fullwood. So I'd keep a close eye on them here.
Cramer (Charlotte, NC)
Hi Josh,I was wonder now that we are down to about four scholarships left for this class, what positions will Penn State target. Could we see another LB or two?? Thanks!
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:25 PM)
PSU already has two linebackers in this class -- Troy Reeder and Jared Wangler -- and I think the odds are against them taking a third. That being said, PSU seems on the verge of reeling in Vincent, it'll wait for Henry and it needs a DT. That's three ships. It has one left ... and I think that final one is a wild card, one where PSU will take the best available player. Could that be an LB? Sure, it could also be a TE (Gesicki). It's pretty fluid right now.
Andrew (Highland Park)
In a perfect (but realistic) world, who are our last 4 recruits? And how about in a slightly more pessimistic view?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:26 PM)
In a perfect world? Vincent, Henry, Holley, Bookser. But, like I said, I can't see Bookser going to PSU. And, Holley's going to have the Alabamas of the college football world to consider.
hi josh, with not many scholarship left, do you see any 4 or 5 stars signing? and in your opinion what is there biggest need with remaining scholarships. thanks
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:30 PM)
Absolutely. I think PSU has a very good shot at four-star DB Dravon Henry. PSU's probably No. 2 right now with him, but I'd almost be more surprised if PSU stayed at No. 2 than I would seeing them move up. As far as the biggest need, right now it's definitely defensive tackle. PSU's definitely taking at least one -- possibly two now -- and it'll likely be some combination of Jeremiah Clarke, Ricky Walker and Thomas Holley.
MARI IL [via mobile]
Is thera any chance the freshmen starts a game at qb this year
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:32 PM)
There's a pretty good chance. You won't see O'Brien rotating the two QBs in during one game, like Paterno did with Bolden-McGloin, but Hack is going to compete for the starting job. He's not even on campus yet, but he was listed with Ferguson on the depth chart. Obviously, QB isn't in stone yet, so there was an "OR" next to Ferguson's name to signify that. I get the feeling that, if this QB race is close, Hackenberg's getting the nod. Why do I think that? Because PSU doesn't want to waste a year with Hack. If he can't redshirt, you want to get the most out of him so he can evolve and set him up for the future. Let's be honest, Ferguson isn't the QB of the future. Anything can happen, but that's not exactly the most likely scenario. If the season started tomorrow, Ferguson would get the nod. But Hack is the future of PSU.
Brian (Portland, Ore)
Hey Josh - keep up the great work on the blog. Now that we've got our QB for 2014, what names should we keep a look out for at the QB spot for the 2015 class? Or do you think the Lions will take a pass next year?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:36 PM)
I think we'll likely see PSU skip on taking a 2015 QB, and then grab one in the 2016 class. So, as far as 2016, I think Jarrett Guarantano is the name to watch right now. He was at one of PSU's camps -- did a story on him earlier this week -- and I think he's high up on their early list. Brandon McIlwain, Curtis Cothran's teammate, is also a 2016 QB who looked pretty good. He'll need to grow some, but he has a good arm. Can already launch it 60 yards.
Super early for this question, but since PSU has Ferguson and now Hack is less likely to redshirt, wouldn't you say its almost a guarantee that O'Connor redshirts for his first year at PSU?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:37 PM)
I've talked to some other writers about that very thing, and that seems like a pretty likely scenario. If O'Connor isn't going to start, why not redshirt him since there'll be two other QBs (plus Jack Seymour, who's pretty darn good)? If everything goes according to plan, Hackenberg starts in 2014 and finishes his career out. Then O'Connor comes in and has two seasons to guide the team. Obviously, a lot can happen between now and then -- but I imagine that has to be the long-term goal here.
What can you tell us about the 4 star receivers in this class.. It's been a while since we've had that kind of haul from the WR position..?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:40 PM)
Well, Chris Godwin's stock is definitely rising in the eyes of our scouts. He's fast, has good hands, and PSU started recruiting him back when he was a freshman -- before BOB took the helm. So he's been on the path to greatness for quite awhile now. De'Andre Thompkins is very versatile, could play some nickelback and could also be a returner. According to his coach -- who swears these stats are accurate -- Thompkins averaged a little more than 50 yards a kick return last season. I think he wound up with a TD about half of his returns. He's an elite athlete in a league without a lot of talent. And, as far as Troy Apke, he can reportedly run in the 4.4s. So I think PSU has a lot to be excited about in the future -- even when Allen Robinson does graduate.
Rob P (Morristown, NJ)
Sorry I'm late, had to catch up on the other questions, I look forward to this chat every other week, don't you think there is a desire to have this weekly? Ok, I'm not taking your other time commitments into that question...my real question is...when will BO'B start recruiting the junior high ranks for those post-sanction recruits? My hope is NEVER!
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:44 PM)
Haha ... we'll make it weekly again when the season gets closer. But, yeah, for those of you who didn't see, Kentucky just offered a 7th-grade kid -- and, personally, I find that absolutely ridiculous. Early verbal offers mean little already, and that's just insane. Recruiting has been out of hand for awhile, but that takes it to a whole new level. I feel dirty reading about 7th-graders getting scholarship offers. I can't see O'Brien EVER doing that. He said before he won't resort to being the Wild West at PSU ...
mike dalton (easton, md)
given he was our best recruit a few years back, i'm very surprised Angelo Mangiro has not cracked the starting line up by now. Can you tell us about his progression and his position on the depth chart?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:47 PM)
He hasn't cracked the starting lineup yet, you're right, but I don't think he's been a disappointment or anything. He's basically the sixth man when it comes to the offensive line, and he's behind older guys -- one of whom, John Urschel, is All-Big Ten and the other last year, Stank, who was one of the top centers in the country. If one of the OGs decided to leave PSU tomorrow, I don't think the line would skip a beat. Mangiro will start in 2014, and he's progressed just fine. He's not an Eric Shrive, who never lived up to his potential. He's just someone who's gotten stuck behind very good players. He played in every game last season, and I'm sure he'll play in every game this season.
Mark (Danville, Pa)
With Anderson on the depth chart at wr, and Scott having the ability to play safety. Is there a chance we take a rb? Allen's not a big guy either. I'd like to get a 220lb+ bruiser.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:50 PM)
With a pair of 2014 RB commits already -- Nick Scott and Mark Allen -- I really can't see them picking up another RB. They really like Qadree Ollison ... so maybe, MAYBE, he's that wild card offer I talked about before when I said PSU would take the top overall player. But I wouldn't get my hopes up right now about that. And I think you'll be seeing more Mark Allens than Zach Zwinaks in the future of this PSU offense ...
Brian (Portland, Ore)
Now that the initial depth chart is public, which player buried down the chart right now do you think may be starting by the time conference games roll around?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:52 PM)
That's a good question. I think there are three guys that really jumped to mind when I saw that list -- Austin Johnson is the No. 2 DT behind Baublitz, and I think that could change. Baublitz is just a bit more seasoned. The second guy is Eugene Lewis, who could see more targets than Moseby-Felder later in the season if he continues to progress. And third, of course, is Akeel Lynch -- who's No. 3 right now. But he'll share carries. And O'Brien's said before he likes to go with the hot hand, soooo ...
Josh-can you give us a little background on the Junior College recruit DT Cory Johnson and do you think he will commit to the 2014 PSU class?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:55 PM)
Johnson initially committed to Temple out of high school but was ruled academically ineligible. His grades remain a bit of an issue now, so PSU's waiting on his transcript. There's a few red flags with Johnson, but he's a tremendous athlete. He can bench 410-415 pounds, which is more than anyone else at PSU, and Larry Johnson really liked his tape. Cory felt like he rushed into his HS commitment, which greatly impacted his life, and he doesn't want to make the same mistake again -- so, as a result, he wants to take his time with everything. Cory's obviously a great player, but we'll see if he'll be able to play for PSU. If everything's kosher, PSU stands a very good chance. Staying close to family, in Pa. or South Carolina, is important to him.
In follow up to Brian from Portland's question. I was really surprised to see Belton ahead of Lynch on the RB depth chart. I feel that Lynch is a much more natural runner than Belton along with a better frame for the position. Belton seems like he could be a worthy slot receiver. Is the lack of depth at RB the reason Billy Belton hasn't been moved to wr full time?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:58 PM)
When you talk about Belton's frame for WR, I'm pretty sure O'Brien and Co. would disagree with you. The first time he spotted Belton and he went to the WR group, O'Brien stopped him. BOB thought he had just the build he wanted for RB. He liked his moves and athleticism and thought he'd be a natural fit. The staff's said that Belton's looked much better this offseason and, if that's true, then there's definitely no reason to move him. Of course, with the depth now, there's even more of a reason. PSU needs RBs and they don't really need WRs. So I think depth might contribute a tiny bit ... but that's far from the main reason Belton isn't a WR. Frankly, PSU just thinks he's a better RB.
Jason (NY, NY)
Josh,Any realistic chance with Montae Nicholson? The kid has great size/length and can really play. He is an athlete that would be a huge get for PSU. It almost seems like he isnt too rushed in his decision though, which will work against PSU.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:02 PM)
Yeah, PSU definitely has a realistic shot -- at least for now. PSU would like him to commit sooner rather than later, but Nicholson has 30+ offers. He wants to take his time, take his official visits and go from there. And that is kind of a problem for PSU because of those limited scholarships. I don't know where Nicholson will stand once Vincent commits, but I think PSU will continue to at least recruit him -- maybe he could be Henry's replacement if Henry heads elsewhere or he could be that "wild card" spot. I'm just speculating at this point, though, because I'm not sure what might happen down the line.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:03 PM)
OK, guys, that's all the time I have this week. But thanks for all the great questions! Feel free to email me for next week's mailbag, and have a good weekend.