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 (Nittany Nation) (1:00 PM)
Hey guys! Thanks for joining us in this week's chat! We'll get started in a minute here.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:02 PM)
OK, guys, and we're off ... who's got the first question?
Golden (Philadelphia, PA)
What positives can we take away from the Roof departure?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:04 PM)
Hmmm ... well, I think PSU fans can take away that his replacement -- John Butler -- is a players' coach that a lot of current guys on the team really like. Roof's scheme really isn't going to change all that much, so there'll be continuity. So I really don't think you're going to see a drop-off with this defense -- it's mainly just Roof's ability to recruit Georgia and Alabama that will hurt. But, on the plus side, PSU will now have Butler who'll coach some DBs and they'll be able to add an assistant coach -- so this might actually help out player development in the long run.
With McGloin gone, do you think O'Brien can start a true freshman QB (Christian Hackenberg) or is there a viable option for a starter?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:07 PM)
I've said this before, but it bears repeating - Hackenberg will not start on opening day. There's absolutely no way. I've spoken to every single coach he played against his junior year, and they all told me the same thing: He has all the physical tools, BUT he needs to get better at reading defenses. He can't learn the playbook and break down college defenses in three months. He's the QB of the future, but I expect him to redshirt. I think Steven Bench will likely be the starter here, with Tyler Ferguson backing him up for the 2013 season. Even Matt Stafford struggled his first year -- and he enrolled early. Threw about twice as many INTs as TDs.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Even though you Cover Penn State in College Football, What is your Fvaorite NFL Team?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:08 PM)
I grew up watching the Buffalo Bills because a local player started for them. The last time they made a playoff spot, however, I was in eighth grade. Wish that local player was signed pretty much anywhere else ...
do you think BOB will try to win at least one national title before he bolts for NFL?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:10 PM)
Well, I think he'll be here through his original five-year contract. I think O'Brien would bolt if he received a decent NFL offer as head coach, but I don't think teams are going to pay his buyout. NFL teams might not want him in the future because the sanctions are only going to make things harder, and I think this is as high as his stock's going to be for a while. I can't see O'Brien leaving for another college position, so I think he'll still be here for at least three or four more seasons ... but I don't think he'll need to win a national title before he bolts. Would be nice to see though.
who do you think will have a breakout season in 2013?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:13 PM)
I'm really high on Donovan Smith; I think he'll be playing on Sundays when all is said and done. He's big, has good technique, and I remember talking to him as a high schooler when PSU's old staff told him he reminded them of Levi Brown. Outside of him, I think WR Eugene Lewis, LB Mike Hull and CB Adrian Amos should break out. I would be very surprised if Amos/Hull didn't make the All-Big Ten Team next year. Lots of talent there -- and the good news is all those guys have multiple seasons of eligibility left.
have you seen T-Ferguson throwing football? what are his strengths and weaknesses?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:16 PM)
Honestly, I haven't -- but I can tell you what our scouts say about Ferguson, who didn't play on a great team this past season. His mechanics are a little unrefined, but he's a good athlete. He has decent accuracy on underneath passes, but he tends to spray it on intermediate and longer throws. He gets rattled easily. His arm's OK, and he can keep plays alive with his feet. ... So he's definitely a project, which is another reason why I think Bench will be the starter.
Hi Josh,Might as well start with what's top of mind.... what insight to you have on the lay out the time frame for the evolution of PA vs. NCAA?? Ideally, how soon can we expect a ruling on whether the state of PA has a case because most legal experts are saying if they clear that hurdle then the NCAA would be most inclined to sit down and settle out of court by reducing the sanctions.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:20 PM)
Well, I don't think the NCAA has to respond to the lawsuit until sometime in March. If the case isn't dismissed, I think the state has a good chance here. Obviously, there are some definite merits here -- because I think few would argue the NCAA has overstepped its authority in some ways. The main point of contention is whether the state really has standing to sue; Corbett says it does because the state's felt a big impact economically with the sanctions ... which, I think, is a slight stretch. I think the goal all along is to make the NCAA settle, but this definitely isn't something that would be resolved before May. Heck, it could be a year before anything's done, if the NCAA ends up refusing to settle. Hard to predict when a settlement might happen -- but you'll see this story pick up steam again in March.
Dan (Drexel Hill)
Obviously the most immediate concern in the wake of Ted Roof's exit is how it will affect recruiting. Jonathan Walton is receiving several offers and was recruited by Roof. Is he gone? Will any others follow if he is?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:23 PM)
I've talked with Walton since August, and I thought -- right after he committed -- that he waited that long because he was holding out for an SEC offer. He grabbed an offer from PSU early in the summer, and that was the best offer he had up until December. I would be more surprised if he decided to stick with PSU, yes, especially with Roof's departure. Parker Cothren is also a guy people should keep an eye on. He was committed to Purdue until a better offer came along. Now he's committed to PSU and Tennessee just offered, with Auburn showing interest. These two could end up decommitting from PSU and committing to the same school.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:24 PM)
As far as Kasey Gaines and Neiko Robinson, Gaines remains committed -- and really hasn't received serious interest from other major programs. I spoke with Robinson last week, and he wasn't a big fan of the SEC. Didn't like that conference's priorities; said he grew up admiring the Big Ten. You don't hear that too often with kids living in Florida ... so I would be very surprised if he decommits. I think it's just Cothren and Walton that fans need to worry about. Moreso Walton.
Do you expect Omar Truitt to get an offer soon?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:27 PM)
Well, for those who are unfamiliar, Truitt is a 2014 CB who's getting interest from the likes of Oregon and Stanford -- but whose favorite school is PSU. Would commit on the spot if offered. Truitt expected to get an offer back in Novebmer ... and it never happened. PSU's interest kind of pulled back a bit, which is surprising to me. They have a handful of quality kids who are pretty interested -- Mike Grimm, Truitt, etc. -- who they haven't offered. Not sure what they're waiting for. They've offered a lot of guys who really don't have very high interest in the program.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:28 PM)
Definitely Zwinak. After Belton's return against Iowa, I thought he was going to make a comeback and be the starter ... but I was definitely wrong there. You just can't ignore what Zwinak's been able to accomplish; he went more than 100 carries without being tackled in the backfield, and he can wear down a defense. Belton will still be used as a change-of-pace back, along with Akeel Lynch, but Zwinak's the star here.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:29 PM)
As far as freshman starters, I'm really big on Jordan Smith. I think he should be able to earn some time. I don't think you'll see any freshman offensive starters, but Richy Anderson could see time in the slot ... because we certainly know that hasn't exactly been a strength for PSU.
playing URI would've been a disaster.. do you know if BOB is trying to schedule any big game?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:32 PM)
Yeah, I had mixed feelings about the URI rumors. I mean, that game would have just been awful to watch -- but it probably would've helped the team. You get that automatic win, can play some different guys, etc. But I digress, Hawaii is still on the table -- but it's moving slowly. That still might be the next one we hear of, though. O'Brien wants that extra game that can kind of feel like a bowl, but the scheduling isn't easy with that because the Big Ten season runs pretty late.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:36 PM)
Well, first off -- with the offensive line -- I think PSU will be just fine. Stank was an incredible center, but there are more than competent back-ups in Mangiro and Howle. The real question is going to be that RT spot. Mike Farrell did really well last season, and I'm not sold on Adam Gress -- who really got pushed around at times last season. (But a healthy Donovan Smith will do wonders here.) On defense, I don't think the ends are really a concern. Sean Stanley was good but, again, there's good players to step in when it comes to Olaniyan and Zettel. The big loss here is obviously Jordan Hill, and there'll be a considerable drop-off at this position. Baublitz or Austin Johnson will take over -- Johnson has a bright future, but he'll have some growing pains early on. He's going to be a good one; he's just not quite there yet.
Is Penn State planning on taking 1 or even 2 more recruits this season or will they save the 2 remaining scholarships for next year?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:38 PM)
Hey Jed, I'm a Pottsville guy myself so I couldn't overlook your question ... plus it's a good one. Anyway, it looks as if PSU could be done. They've cooled a bit on Deondre Singleton, but they do still have options here like Brian Lemelle and Rod Crayton. Those guys are still interested. But, with next year's class being smaller, I think there's a good chance they just bank the scholarships. They were really hoping to nab some combination of Boyd, Williams, Johnson and Dooley -- but that didn't pan out.
if walton and cothren decommit...any idea on who could get offers for the 2 slots they left behind?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:42 PM)
Good question. Well, before Walton decommitted, the guy in waiting was George Vinson, a linebacker out of Damascus. He's Zach Bradshaw's teammate. Vinson absolutely LOVES PSU. He's since committed elsewhere, but I think he'd still commit to PSU in a heartbeat ... but he was a little turned off when he stayed up waiting for a PSU call to let him know whether or not he had an offer -- and that never came on the day they told him it would. Still, all things being equal, I think PSU could still turn to him. As far as DT, I think Crayton's the No. 2 guy.
Im not really sure about the details of the sanctions but lets say PSU only brings in 13 commits this year on scholarship. Does that mean the other 2 roll over to next year...or did the NCAA disallow that
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:45 PM)
Yeah, I probably should have clarified this better. I used the term "bank" the scholarships, but here's how it works. PSU can only sign 15 commits for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. But they have 18 this year, right? Well, that's because early enrollees can count toward the previous year's class. So, technically, PSU has 13 guys in the 2013 class and their five early enrollees count toward 2012. So, next year, if PSU doesn't use two scholarships, the Lions could sign 17 guys if two enroll early. ... PSU probably can't sign that many anyway because they can only have 65 players on scholarship. But the point is they'll be able to use those two scholarships next year if they don't this year. Hope that's not too confusing!
Any rumors on a new DB coach?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:48 PM)
Well, the guy everybody's asking about is GA coach Zac Etheridge (hope I'm spelling that right) who, I believe, played at Auburn and for the Raiders briefly. He got an offer from Troy as their DB coach, but he's probably not ready for a school like PSU. Butler said he still wants to coach the safeties or cornerbacks, so PSU could add a coach in another area of the team if it really wants. I would be surprised if we didn't see somebody in place in the next month. I'm sure PSU wants another guy who can start recruiting 2014 guys ASAP.
What walk-ons do you think could have an impact on this team?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:50 PM)
Good question. Two names spring to mind for different reasons -- one is Sean Corcoran, a long-snapper out of Chicago. He could be a starter next year as the long-snapper. Not a glamorous position, but whenever you get a starter out of a first-year walk-on, that's pretty good. The other is Von Walker. I spoke to his coach earlier today actually, and he told me McWhorter's message to Walker was basically: We'll play you, at least in special teams, because we think highly of you. Walker reportedly runs in the 4.5s, and that's not too shabby.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:52 PM)
Well, Richard, no players. Even if Mauti was healthy, he probably would have been skipped over. PSU's top-two here are Gerald Hodges and Jordan Hill. I think those are second-third round guys. Matt Stankiewitch is probably going to be the next to be drafted after him. And Matt McGloin is going to try to make a push; he's in L.A. right now training at the same place Andrew Luck was at last year. Matt Barkley and Geno Smith are working alongside him right now. So maybe he turns out to by a 6th-7th rounder?
I'm not sure about the legitimacy of these comparisons. I guess it's just in playing style, but I've heard Steven bench is a Manziel type...with the ability to run around and Make plays. If that's true, how do you think that fits in BoB's offense
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:55 PM)
I believe, during at least part of his high school career, he played in an option offense. So I see where the comparison comes from -- but that's not Bench. And, quite frankly, I don't think they're comparable at all. He's definitely mobile ... but he's not a guy who's going to run for 500 or 700 yards a season. He's a pocket-passer with good feet and who can take off he needs to; he's not a dual-threat.
Do you think Walton will leave for another school and if he does who do you think psu will try to get to fill his spot?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:56 PM)
I think right now it's more likely than not that Walton leaves. Like I said earlier, I know George Vinson was the Plan B guy back in December ... and he was just fine with that then. He committed elsewhere since, but I think he'd still be a Penn Stater if he received an offer.
Lou (Gaithersburg, MD)
Do you know if O'Brien considered Vanderlinden or Johnson for DC at all? And have you gotten a sense that either are miffed they were passed over?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:58 PM)
Well, O'Brien must not have seriously considered those guys. It all happened really fast; Butler said he only found out Roof was leaving Wednesday morning. Over the next few hours, O'Brien promoted Butler -- so it's not like there was a formal interview process or anything. Honestly, I haven't heard anything concrete as to how they feel ... but, if I were them, I'd definitely feel miffed.
Hey Josh I saw that Vanderbilt has offered Cothren as well.
Matt (Pittsburgh Pa)
Josh, With Paul Jones leaving along with Mr. Bolden, Who do you see starting at QB? Steven Bench?? Also when is hackenburg going to enroll?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (2:01 PM)
I'd put the odds of starting at this: Bench 50 percent, Ferguson 40 percent, Hackenberg 10 percent. Hackenberg only plays if Bench-Ferguson are a train wreck. His dad wants him to redshirt, and O'Brien has the philosophy that a fifth-year senior is going to help out a lot more than a first-year freshman. He redshirts whenever he can. So I think redshirting Hackenberg would be the best bet. If he starts just three seasons, he could rewrite most of PSU's career passing records.
whoa just looked up rod crayton..any idea on his interest level?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (2:03 PM)
Spoke with him last month, and PSU was still in his top-4. But PSU cooled on him after the Cothren commitment. He's definitely a solid player -- honestly, I thought he was better than Cothren -- and I'm not sure where he'll land at this point. LSU liked him, but I think some schools cooled on him just because he's taken a little while to commit. Teams have moved on, which is a shame because he's a talented guy.
Any word on some other potential run-ons like Jake Plonski or Gregg Garrity Jr.?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (2:04 PM)
Garrity told me he probably won't decide until sometime after signing day. He wants to see if he can get a scholarship elsewhere first ... which kind of surprised me. Plonski and Drew Scales are also waiting to see if they can pick up offers elsewhere, but they should make a decision at some point before signing day.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (2:05 PM)
All right, guys, that's all the time we have for this week! But thanks again for joining us. We'll likely be alternating chats and mailbags every week. So, we won't have a chat next week, but we'll have a mailbag. So feel free to email me your questions then at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll pick three to answer more in-depth -- have a good weekend, everybody!