Hey guys! Thanks for joining us today. Hope everybody had a good week -- so let's jump right into it. Who's got the first question?
Josh, love reading your Nittany Nation articles. Keep up the good work. Butterworth's punting does not seem like a strong point for the team. His punting average decreased for the last 3 years and he ranks near the very bottom in average in NCAA Division I-A. Do you think he could be unseated this year, maybe by Gulla?
Appreciate it, Jim! Anyway, you're right about Butterworth -- like Ficken, he improved down the stretch BUT he's not even an average FBS punter. Chris Gulla (a run-on, for those who haven't heard the name before) earned walk-on invitations from the likes of South Carolina and had an offer from UMass. He's legit; told me he could kick "55 yards and beyond" without a tee. I think he has a really good shot at unseating Ficken. And while he does punt, it's not his forte. I think he'll take Ficken's job before Butterworth. I still expect Butterworth to be the starter come Week 1.
Who will be the New Penn St. College Football Players Replacing the ones who are in the 2013 NFL Draft?
Well, let's talk about the big four: Mauti, Hodges, Stank and Hill. As far as the linebackers are concerned, you'll definitely see Mike Hull -- and then Ben Kline and Nyeem Wartman will fight for the other spot. At DT, Kyle Baublitz and Austin Johnson will battle to start opposite DaQuan Jones. And at center, you'll have Miles Dieffenbach, Angelo Mangiro and Ty Howle competing for the job. Urschel had a lot of good things to say about Howle a week ago, and I think he probably has a slight edge. Dieffenbach will stay at guard, and I think Mangiro will likely play a similar role as last year.
Is Jabrill Peppers really interested and would he really give PSU a second look with all of the other interest? Would PSU offer (if they already haven't) his teammates to get more interest from him?
Peppers' coach told me PSU wasn't in his top 10 before the trip, but the coach was really impressed with O'Brien and thought the school would be a decent fit for the CB. He urged Peppers to visit, Peppers agreed -- and he said PSU might just be in his top-5 right now. Before Wednesday, I would've told you PSU had no shot. Heck, Peppers might've told you the same. Now? Paramus Catholic's coach said there's no doubt Peppers will be back in the future. PSU's not the favorite right now, but he's the No. 1 overall player on their big board -- and you can bet they're going to go after him incredibly hard.
Doesn't Mauti have to officially disclose his exact injury at the combine? Not sure why they have kept such a low profile about it this long into the offseason.
To be completely honest, AA, I'm not totally sure about that. I've heard some rumors that one AFC team is operating on the fact it's a torn ACL and would be willing to take a late-round pick on him. Quite frankly, I think it's ridiculous he's been so private about it. Teams are going to find out; he's a great player and has great character ... but it's really one of the weirder injury stories out there just because he's been so quiet about it. I think it was the Eagles GM who just commented on what a great guy Mauti is -- if it wasn't for the injury, I think he could've been an early second-rounder.
What high profile 2014 recruits do you think Penn State have a good shot at landing?
Troy Reeder has high interest in PSU, and I think Marcus Allen is definitely a name to keep in mind. There's a couple guys who don't have scholarships who are coming up Saturday -- like Noah Beh, Mike Grimm, Rob Martin -- who also have high interest in PSU and I think the Nittany Lions would have a good shot with them if they offer.
do you think BOB will redshirt Adam Breneman?
Yeah, John, I really do. I know Adam really wants to play but after not playing a snap his senior season, there's really no cause to start him from Day 1 -- especially with Bill O'Brien's philosophy that a fifth-year senior can contribute a lot more than a first-year freshman. O'Brien would ideally like to redshirt everyone and, with the depth at tight end, Breneman doesn't have to play right away. If he was a quarterback? Oh yeah, he would play and compete. But TE? You have Lehman, James and Carter there. They're fine at TE.
Can freshman like Hackenburg still transfer? And if they can who do you think might?
Jimmy, just got a full answer recently, actually. Let me give you the short version: No, no one from this class can transfer without penalty. Breneman and Hack have to stay put. Long version: The sanctions stipulated that basically players from the 2012 recruiting class would be able to transfer. But, with 2013 players who enrolled early and technically counted against the 2012 class, it was kind of unclear. Took quite awhile to get an answer -- but, no, they can't transfer without penalty.
SO DO YOU THINK ANY OF THESE RUN ONS WILL BE AWESOME THIS YEAR?
YES DAK I DO. There's actually two guys here who could end up being four-year starters, even as true freshmen. First-up is Kicker Chris Gulla who we talked about earlier. He actually turned down an FBS offer from UMass to pick PSU. And the second is Sean Corcoran. Granted, Corcoran is just a long-snapper -- but he's a darn good one. He's about 210 pounds, so he's not going to start on the offensive line or anything. But he could be the starter for the next four years; PSU's staff told him they expect him to compete. Those are the two guys who'll probably make the biggest impact this season, but there's definitely a handful here -- like Jack Seymour -- who could be great in future seasons.
Has anyone signed for next year's recruiting class (2014) ?
Yup, RB Mark Allen. Here's some film on him: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/666776/highlights/18746377
How many more offers do you expect to go out this weekend during Junior Day?
That's really hard to say, Doug. But I don't think you'll see that many. If they put out more than four, I'd be surprised. PSU really offered the No. 1 and No. 2 guys they have on their board at each position -- so it'll be hard for them to offer, say, Troy Apke because they're still trying to get Chris Godwin. It'll be hard for them to offer Chase Winovich because they're after Troy Reeder.
What have you heard about players changing their position? I know about Gilliam, but what about Zettel (DE to DT) or Richie Anderson (RB to WR) and any others?
The only other guy I've heard about right now is Nate Cadogan, who got moved to defense. He's a fifth-year senior and played OT last year. I'm assuming he's at DT now since he's 6-5 and 293 pounds. Maybe he could push for some situational time because there's not a lot of experience along the interior. Wouldn't be surprised to see a few more as we get into the spring; lots of wideouts not a lot of CBs, for example.
With the change over in the personnel and coaches in the secondary, do you see different philopshy/scheme or more of the same as last season?
Good question, Mike. And, to be honest, you won't see a big change from the philosophy. Ted Roof really wanted to play a lot of man-to-man, but he just didn't have the personnel last year to do it. Butler has a little more to work with, so you'll probably see a little less zone this year. Butler also likes to be aggressive, and he said he'd basically like to move some guys around from time to time -- maybe Barnes will be on the other end for a play, for example -- to keep the offense guessing. Based on what Butler told us during a call, too, I wouldn't at all be surprised if a few more packages a la the "Roadrunner" (with Hull at MLB, and Amos to safety) showed up.
Josh, We hear a lot about Amos, but what are yout thoughts on S.O.A.? I thought he played really well last year. He had his hands on a number of balls, and if he can learn to catch, I think he could be a TO machine. He is also one of the fastest players on the squad-which surprised me.Thank you.
Absolutely, Jeff. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong was really battling with Fagnano for the starting job last season and, if it wasn't for an injury to Fagnano, he might have never gotten a shot. But multiple players told me he was the most-improved player since Week 1. According to a list of 40 times on the weight room, he's also the second-fastest player on the team, with Alex Kenney being first of course. So, yeah, I think he's got a high ceiling this season. That closing speed is really going to help him out, and I'm sure it'll surprise some wideouts. He's got to force some turnovers this season
Quarterback situation...Is Steven Bench ready to be the starter or is Tyler Ferguson gonna be the guy to lead the team?
I've said Steven Bench all along -- even over Hackenberg -- and I'm still sticking with that. I've only seen Ferguson once, but he seemed really lean to me during workouts. One of his opposing coaches told me he definitely needs to add some weight, too. That's not an incredibly big deal, but Bench just has a lot more going for him. He knows the playbook, he's a quick learner and he's a smart QB. Bench has a good head-start here and, if O'Brien does name a starter in the spring (said he probably won't but he might), no way it'll be Ferguson. I think either Bench wins out or it's TBA. I'd really, really be surprised if Ferguson won the job outright so soon.
Why isn't Snodgrass coming this weekend? I thought he tweeted Penn State as his top school?
He told me his dad wanted him to go to Kentucky instead because it's closer. So that's where he's headed now ...
How does Bushell-Beatty match up with guys like Grimm or Quenton Nelson? Best prospect of the bunch?
Out of those three, Quenton Nelson is No. 1, Grimm is No. 2 and Bushell-Beatty is No. 3. JBB will probably have to wait a little longer to earn a scholarship offer; don't think it's going to be coming in the near future.
It looks like the coaches are focusing on a number of RB's this class, even though they already signed Allen. Do you think they have a shot at another RB?
I really think PSU would like to pick up another RB this class. There's five coming up this weekend, and PSU's offered at least one other guy here. Allen tore his ACL, so I'm sure they'd like to get some insurance. I know Rob Martin's really high on PSU, and Jonathan Thomas -- who goes to O'Brien's old HS in Massachusetts -- really likes State, as well. Neither have an offer yet, but both plan to be here for Junior Day.
Do you see Eric Shrive earning a starting spot this year? I know he was very highly touted out of high school, but seemed to get stuck in the middle of the depth chart the last two years.
He's going to compete at right tackle. If memory serves me correctly, he played some on the inside too -- but there's just too much quality depth there for him to make a real impact. Donovan Smith will start at LT, and Adam Gress is the favorite now at RT. If Shrive does start, it'll be at RT. He should still see considerable time this season, but I wouldn't count on him to start just yet.
Not getting ahead of ourselves here, but I saw recently that Kyle Carter affirmed that he and the rest of the "Supa 6" are committed for the long hall...which got me thinking, if these guys (Carter, Smith, Robinson, Barnes, Belton and Amos) continue to have years like last year (ok maybe Belton has much better years ahead), can you forsee at least 3, maybe 4 of them being first round NFL draft picks in 2016?
Haha ... not getting ahead of ourselves? Oh man, 2016, that's hard to answer. I will say this: Out of the guys you mentioned, I think Donovan Smith and Deion Barnes have the brightest prospects for the NFL draft. I really think those two have first-round potential. Outside of Belton, though, they all do have a shot at the next level. Funny because 2011 wasn't a highly touted recruiting class, but it's been pretty terrific for PSU.
Hey Josh - any word if Penn State is still working the recruiting trail down in Florida and Georgia or did they pull back after Roof's departure?
The hiring of safeties coach Anthony Midget will really help them with their recruiting efforts there. You mentioned Florida and Georgia, and he's the perfect fit. He coached at Georgia State for five seasons -- that's where he's coming from -- and he coached HS ball in Florida for a couple years. So he has connections at both places, and ex-Georgia State head coach Bill Curry told me that Midget is a great recruiter. He really emphasized Midget's recruiting ability. So I think he'll be able to plug that hole some. Not as good as Roof, but it'll take PSU a few seasons to make in-roads there because the last staff really took those areas for granted.
Josh do you think penn state gets any commits on junior day?
I'm getting this question a lot, so I'll try to answer it as best I can because I know that's what everyone wants to know. From my count, there's about seven guys who have scholarships who are going to PSU. Out of those guys, I think Troy Reeder is probably the most likely to commit. It's hard for me to pick other guys because I'm not sure who's going to get a scholarship. I know Martin and Grimm have high PSU interest, so I'd keep an eye on them if they get offers.
Josh, can you tell us any information on the new recruiting assistant BOB hired? I saw an article somewhere but needed a paid subscription, seems to be one of those things that BOB bargained for when he decided to stay put at PSU after interviewing with the Eagles...
Oh, recruiting assistant -- I thought you meant Midget at first. I was just digging up a free article about my Q&A with Midget's former boss, Bill Curry. Honestly, I haven't spoken to the new recruiting assistant yet -- but I'll try finding out more about him in the near future. Hard because I'm sure he's been busy this week. Here's that link talking more about Midget at least: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/psu/post/_/id/7004/ex-georgia-state-hc-talks-anthony-midget
Is the coaching staff going after any recruits that are west of the Mississippi, or is it strictly northeast/midwest/southeast?
Bill O'Brien has said that the recruiting focus is basically within a 300-mile radius of State College. Obviously, they've also recruited quite a bit in the South as well. But, yeah, west of the Mississippi isn't a focus at this point. Mac McWhorter obviously has Texas ties and -- correct me if I'm wrong -- but I haven't even heard about him visiting the Longhorn State. With PSU's recruiting connections, with a lot of their coaches have ties to the South, that's why they're recruiting there instead. London -- the recruiting coordinator, for example -- grew up there, too.
Besides the Long Snapper and Kicker, who we have already pointed out, who amongst the other walk-on, on defense or offense should we look out of in the next couple of years? Have read very good things about Von Walker...
Von Walker's really versatile and can play a lot of different places for them so, yeah, he should definitely at least contribute on special teams. I think Tom Pancoast (safety), QB Jack Seymour and WR Gregg Garrity are guys to keep eyes on as well.
who will have a breakout season like A-Rob did laast year? Mike Hull? Geno Lewis?
The guy I've been high on for awhile -- and I had a top-5 breakout list awhile back where he was No. 1 -- is Donovan Smith. I think he could be the best lineman Penn State has this season, and John Urschel really sang his praises last week. Basically, Smith could very well be better than Wisniewski. When he plays healthy, look out.
Josh, I finally found the link to get on the chat this week, thank you for posting the link and reminder on your Nittany Nation blog page!
Haha -- thanks for the suggestion. If you guys saw the link on NN today and followed it, you can thank Rob.
I keep searching for updates on the PA vs NCAA lawsuit. Do you have any? Do you think the dismissal will be denied? And if so, what will it mean for Penn State? BTW - We appreciate what you are doing for Nittany Nation!
Well, Fred, the NCAA's responded by ... filing a lawsuit to stop new legislation. It's not the Corbett lawsuit they sued against; it's the new law Corbett signed designed to keep the $60M fine in-state. That's really the only news right now. The NCAA still has some time to respond to the lawsuit filed last month, and it won't be until probably next month that we hear more about that. So hang tight -- it should be interesting ...
What are PSU's chances with Troy Vincent Jr?
He has medium interest right now. I think PSU has a shot here, but Penn State's not a front-runner at this point. He planned to come up to junior day this weekend but decided to cancel. That's not as big of a deal as it might sound. He wanted his entire family to come up to see what they had to say and look around the campus. But his dad's going out of town, and his siblings had a basketball game ... so he basically would've had to come up solo. So he figured he's just hold off and visit in the future when his family's able to go with him.
Which 2014 recruits do the Lions have a chance at in Ohio this year?
Hmmm ... good question. First names that come to mind are Thaddeus Snodgrass and Kyle Berger. OSU is still Berger's favorite, but PSU's definitely growing on Snodgrass. PSU has kind of taken Western Pa. and Ohio for granted the last few years, so O'Brien and London said that's really been a point of emphasis. I talked to one Western Pa. coach recently who told me that he basically never talked to PSU's staff in the last decade. Now? O'Brien's already been through, and he regularly talks to PSU's assistants. So PSU's making a lot of good connections now that will pay off in the future. The more I talk to high school coaches, even in Eastern Pa., the more I come to realize that the last staff was really lacking in the recruiting department.
OK guys, I guess we'll end there. It's sure to be a busy weekend. So check out NittanyNation on Saturday night and Sunday morning for updates on Junior Day. Have a good weekend everybody!