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 (NittanyNation) (12:59 PM)
Hey guys! Thanks for joining us this week. We'll get started in just a minute here ...
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:00 PM)
OK ... and we're off. Who's got the first question this week?
Chris W (Mullica Hill, NJ)
What position will PSU need to focus on the most for it's 2015 class? Would it be fair to say line backer is the most important for that class? Who are some names we can expect to see in the mix?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:02 PM)
I could see why you'd say linebacker since that's the big question mark this season, but PSU will have Jared Wangler, Troy Reeder and (likely) Zayd Issah added to the roster next season. Only Glenn Carson leaves, but Ben Kline will be healthier. So I think they'll be in much better shape there. So the focus will definitely be on offensive linemen. I'm sure PSU will still back up a back or two, but 2015 could really be the 'Year of the OL' for Penn State. They've offered more than six guys there already.
Trevor (New York)
What was it about Antoine White that made the coaching staff not offer him a scholarship sooner?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:05 PM)
I actually asked White that question. He told me he thought PSU wanted a 3-technique guy, and they were concerned he wouldn't be able to get up to 300 pounds. White came in as a freshman at around 220-230, and he played around 250 last season. But he got up to about 270 now, and he posted up a video on his Facebook profile where he power-cleaned 285 pounds. He figured that helped change PSU's collective mind.
Gesicki, Nicholson, Walker, Bookser, Holley, Henry, Hooker. Two most likely to verbal PSU?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:07 PM)
Hmmm ... that's the $10,000 question, isn't it? I'd probably go with Ricky Walker and Montae Nicholson right now. If Rushel Shell heads to WVU, that might be the clincher for Dravon Henry. And although ND isn't a lock for Thomas Holley by any stretch, I still think Walker's higher on PSU than him. So that's my best guess right now.
Hi i want to know about Sterling Jenkins do you think he will pick PennState? i hope he does.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:10 PM)
He's close to the top of PSU's big board. He's definitely the OL they'd like to reel in the most. I think PSU has a great shot right now. PSU really impressed him on his visit, and he does have some PSU ties. His grandmother constantly talks his ear off about PSU, but he's going to get A LOT of recruiting attention -- and both his parents went to Pitt. He practically grew up on campus. PSU's in great, great shape with him right now and I have to think they're near the top of his early list right now. But there's still obviously a lot of time left there ...
Do you feel as if everyone currently in the 2014 class will still be with us come signing day? Seems like all of them appear to be very committed, but you have the inside knowledge.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:13 PM)
Last season, if one player was going to decommit, I would've told you Jonathan Walton. I'm not just saying that; it was no big secret. He said from Day 1 that his dream was to play in the SEC, so most of us figured if the SEC came knocking that PSU would be in trouble. He told us that's why he held off on committing to PSU for so long. I say that so it means more when I say that I don't get that feeling with anybody in the 2014 class. The recruit I probably know the least about is Troy Apke because he kind of keeps to himself, but everybody else has been very adamant about PSU being a final destination for them.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:15 PM)
Right now, reports have said that he's "100 percent" returning to PSU. But, if something does happen, PSU will just plug the backup role this season with a walk-on -- Austin Whipple, DJ Crook or Jack Seymour. Seymour has the most potential, but Whipple and Crook are most ready to play right now. And, according to the June depth chart, Crook is ahead of Whipple. Michael O'Connor will also be arriving on campus in January ... so I think PSU could still hold out for another QB in the 2016 class instead of grabbing one in 2015. But, again, we're kind of playing the game of what-ifs here.
Andrew (bethlehem, pa)
Has PSU already received permission from the NCAA to play in Ireland or is that something that still needs to be addressed? Would Emmert really not allow us to play the game and cause more controversy?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:17 PM)
The game's probably going to be announced in the next four days, so I don't think you'll have to worry about that ...
Hi Josh, stellar job. What new geographic areas of the country is PSU touching on now for recruiting? Northwest? Northeast?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:19 PM)
Well, PSU's really trying to go after Florida hard. Anthony Midget, who has ties to the region, is the main guy there. And I've said this before, but BOB said in February that Ohio and western Pa. are also big priorities now. I don't think that's a big secret anymore. It'll probably be a while, though, before PSU sees an impact from recruiting Florida. Most guys there have little idea about Penn State.
Josh, now that the game in Ireland is official, do you think that will have a significant impact on the decisions of the remaining players at the top of our 2014 board (Holley, Henry, etc.)?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:20 PM)
I don't think it's official quite yet ... but it might as well be. Regardless, it's not going to have a significant impact at all. I've asked recruits about this, and I get the same answer all the time: It's not another reason to go to the school, but it's a definite bonus. So I think it'll probably make some commits feel slightly better about their decision or a bit more excited, but it's not going to sway anyone.
Matt (Reading, PA)
I've read multiple reports that Tyler Ferguson was off campus for awhile due to being homesick, any truth to this, if so, let the Hackenberg era begin?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:22 PM)
His mother has breast cancer so, yeah, he's been home and hasn't been with the team. He's reportedly coming back to PSU and not transferring ... but, yeah, obviously that bodes well for Hack. Some things are more important than football, though. Can't really blame Ferguson
Will (Wilkes Barre)
What are your feelings on Thomas Holley? Many believe ND is the leader but I think we are right there.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:25 PM)
Yeah, you kind of hit the nail on the head. Notre Dame seems to be the leader right now, but Holley's been high on PSU since the very beginning. I think a lot of people figured that interest would wane after he went on a few visits -- since PSU was one of his first trips -- but it never really did. I've been impressed with his take on the sanctions (he's pointed to just how much tighter, stronger that's made the team and players), and I wouldn't be too surprised if he ended up wanting to become a Nittany Lion. Either him or Ricky Walker will likely take up one of the last two ships.
Brian (State College)
As long as Zayd Issah proves he is mature and doesn't have anything else go wrong, is it pretty much a lock that he's at Penn State in January 2014?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:25 PM)
I think that's pretty fair to say. Definitely.
In the event that Hackenberg redshirts in 2013 (due to the emergence of Ferguson) or takes a medical red-shirt due to injury, any chance O'Connor reconsiders his commitment before signing day, knowing he might only get 1 year to start?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:29 PM)
Patience, Ryan. I'm getting to your question haha. See you posted it more than once. ... I think you're definitely getting ahead of yourself here because odds are that Hackenberg no longer redshirts. PSU's depth chart did really appeal to O'Connor -- I think that really put him over the edge, months ago -- and, no doubt, that would throw kind of a wrench into the recruiting process. But, on the flip side, if Hackenberg didn't start, that means he must not be doing the best -- which means O'Connor would be able to battle with him for the starting job. No matter where O'Connor goes, he'll have to compete ... so, even if we play what-if game and all that stuff happens, it'd still surprise me if he decided to go somewhere else. He really likes the business school, has a great relationship with Fisher and BOB and really likes the style of offense. Sure, having to sit behind Hack would be a negative -- but I don't think it'd be a turning point or anything.
Brian (State College)
Which 2015 Running Backs does Penn State like most? Also I have not heard much about RB Josh Adams, but I hear there is mutual interest between him and PSU there. What do you know about Adams?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:30 PM)
Josh Adams is one name I've heard, but there's another Keystone State player that PSU's also after -- and that's Bishop McDevitt's Andre Robinson. Had an update on him the other day. PSU stands really well with him right now -- but it might be trickier later on in the process if Robinson's recruitment blows up.
Billy T. (NY)
It seems like drafting RB is harder than drafting LBs in all time draft.. I didn't know we had so many good running backs.. were you surprised?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:33 PM)
Not really. PSU was a run-first team for -- what? -- like 126 years? And it's been an eastern and/or national power for most of that time, so I knew there would be a lot of guys we'd have to choose from. The fact that Franco Harris and Blair Thomas weren't drafted didn't surprise me that much since there were so many other good players there. It was definitely tricky, though. Cornerbacks were the hardest to pick since there were few of them, but you couldn't really go wrong at tailback.
Rob (Rochester, NY)
who do you think has the best chance at a post season award assuming all stay healthy?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:36 PM)
I'd say Kyle Carter for the Mackey Award. Yes, Deion Barnes is a great player and all ... but there's a lot of competition there. And PSU might utilize the tight ends more than any other team in the country -- so there's definitely an opportunity. With the emergence of Jesse James, maybe receptions will be split, which will harm Carter's stock. But I have to think that Carter's definitely got the top shot here.
Hey Josh, hope you're having a good day. It seems like O'Brien is pushing the university to ask the NCAA to reduce some of the sanctions. Do you think if the university formally does something, can you see the NCAA reducing anything? And, more of a personal problem for me, how come the BoT seems to need to be pushed by the coach to do something? They needed it under Joe and now O'Brien. Why can't they do things by themselves, and have fought these sanctions last year? Very frustrating sometimes, personally.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:38 PM)
Thanks, Nick. And, from seeing how things have played out so far, my guess is that the NCAA won't consider reducing the sanctions until everything is over with. Once the administrators' trials are finished, once the lawsuits are resolved and there's some calm for a change, maybe the NCAA reconsiders them then. What if Emmert scales back the sanctions and then something comes out at the trials that makes PSU look worse? Emmert's already looked like an idiot plenty; probably can't afford to make another ill-timed mistake. Again, I don't have inside info here. Just trying to give my opinion.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:41 PM)
Haha ... Harris was my No. 2-rated FB. I grabbed my No. 1 -- Pete Mauthe. People forget him because he played from 1909-1912. But he had more rushing yards than Harris, started both ways, was a four-year lettermen, led PSU to three undefeated seasons and helped PSU go from an Eastern power to a national one. I do think Harris was one of the best players to be left out of the draft, though.
Jason P. (Austin, TX)
have you talked to Hack? how is he doing in State College nowadays?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:44 PM)
I haven't talked to him lately, and I doubt anybody will be able to for the foreseeable future. I tried calling him before June 22, when freshmen report, but he told me couldn't talk because O'Brien had already instructed him not to speak with the media. I know he golfs with Breneman, and he's already familiar with the area because his family is from Tamaqua originally, so I certainly don't think you have to worry about him getting homesick or anything. Talking to him this past year, he seems like a very focused kid -- and I'd wager he's adjusting just fine. This past class of freshmen was really tight, so that's definitely a plus.
Bill Fox (Fairfax)
why no love for Bowman in all time draft? already 2X All Pro and clearly the best player in Rose Bowl against USC.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:46 PM)
NaVorro Bowman? He was the sixth linebacker taken, and I thought that was pretty fair. I might have even taken him later than that; Stephon Morris jumped on him in the 11th round. Plus, we tried to just take college careers into account -- which is why Robbie Gould wasn't drafted.
Joe D. (Lancaster)
I've seen a couple questions talking about a "draft"? What are you talking about? I'm really confused
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:48 PM)
Sorry, Joe. Should've probably prefaced those questions with an explanation. Five of us performed a 24-round draft of former PSU players in an all-time PSU fantasy draft. It was me, historian Lou Prato, my editor, O.J. McDuffie and Stephon Morris. Here's the link: http://espn.go.com/colleges/psu/notebook/_/page/pennstatealltimefantasydraft
BrianUni (Sinking Spring, PA)
Evidence of negative recruiting against PSU? B10 schools also?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:51 PM)
Oh, schools have definitely recruited against PSU negatively. But is that really a surprise? If School A has something that School B doesn't, why not point it out? Although, sometimes, it does border on the ridiculous ... case in point, read the Jared Wangler "5 Questions" story over at NittanyNation today. That example literally had me laughing.
Kevin H. (Boston)
do you see Deion performs like Aaron Maybin did in 08?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:54 PM)
What'd Maybin have? Like 20 tackles for loss and a dozen sacks? That's a tall order to fill ... and, keep in mind, Barnes is only a redshirt sophomore here. I think it's safe to say Barnes will improve upon his six-sack performance -- but doubling his stats is a bit much, in my opinion. I think there's a much better chance it's in the 8-10 range, than in the 12+ range.
Mari IL [via mobile]
Is penn st in a semi rebuilding mode
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:55 PM)
Well, in college football, I think you could say that just about any year. So, yeah, I definitely think that applies this season as well. BOB has to build up the QB and the interior of the DL, along with LB Nyeem Wartman and the CBs. The players there are all a bit untested, but this is a relatively young team and there's bound to be a few question marks like that.
JIm H. (Philly)
I am betting on Hack to start the season. I know it is a long shot but... I just see more upside in doing this. you agree?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:58 PM)
With everything that's transpired, I'd be hard-pressed to say Hackenberg isn't the favorite at this point. It looks more and more like he'll be starting the season-opener -- and so much has happened to make him the option here. Paul Jones quit, Jake Waters changed his mind at the last second, Steven Bench transferred, Tyler Ferguson went back to Cali for a bit to be with his ill mother -- and all that's happened in the past 10 months or so. Crazy.
Kevin T. (DC)
so...... who is the starting QB? if you have to pick today
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:59 PM)
Right now, it's got to be Hackenberg. I don't know who'd pick against him today. And, if someone would, I'd love to know why ... I could certainly understand it before, but PSU doesn't have a lot of options left.
Josh (NittanyNation) (2:00 PM)
OK, guys, that's all the time we have for this week. But thanks again for joining us. Have a good weekend and, if you're up at PSU, enjoy Arts Fest!