Monthly Archives: April 2008

Philly lineman verbals to PSU

St. Joe’s Prep offensive lineman Mark Arcidiacono makes it three verbals for the Penn State class of 2009. The Philly area product, who chose PSU over the likes of Notre Dame, Florida and Rutgers also makes it two straight days in which Penn State received a verbal committment for its next recruiting class.

 

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Update on suspended players

Penn State SID Jeff Nelson just sent out a statement regarding the five players suspended for various off-field reasons.

It reads as such: “The five players that did not participate in spring practice are now permitted to work out with the team in the weight room and training facilities. Their playing status remains unchanged and will be reviewed after each of them resolves certain academic and/or legal issues.”

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Captains officially named

From the home offices of Penn State football…..

Nittany Lions Announce Captains for 2008 Season

Gaines, Lee, Scirrotto, Shipley and Williams Elected Captains

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., April 29, 2008 – A quintet of seniors have been elected captains of the 2008 Penn State football team.

Defensive end Josh Gaines (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) and safety Anthony Scirrotto (West Deptford, N.J.) were named the defensive captains. Center A.Q. Shipley (Coraopolis) and wide receiver Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.) were named the offensive captains.

In addition, linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh) will serve as an honorary captain in 2008. Lee suffered a serious knee injury earlier this month that will likely keep him off the field this season, but he is planning to return for the 2009 season as a fifth-year senior.

All five of the 2008 captains are on schedule to graduate during the next year. Williams is on schedule to graduate in August, with Gaines and Shipley on track to earn their degrees in December. Lee could graduate in December or next spring, with Scirrotto on schedule to graduate next spring.

A two-year starter, Gaines played an important role in helping the Nittany Lions rank in No. 2 the nation in sacks and No. 7 in rushing defense in 2007. The only returnee on the defensive line with any significant experience going into last season, Gaines was instrumental in helping the unit make substantial progress. The former Northrop High School all-state selection has provided consistently strong play and good leadership the past two seasons. A 2007 honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection, Gaines recorded 40 tackles, with 5.0 TFL, including 2.5 sacks for minus-16 yards. Gaines, who comes from a family of 11 children, also had one forced fumble and one pass breakup.

“I was a little surprised at first when Coach Paterno said I was a captain,” Gaines stated. “I just look at it as I’ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I was voted a captain for a reason, so they must like what I’ve been doing. I just try to lead by example and if somebody is down, I try to pick them up.”

One of the squad’s most versatile and valuable athletes, Scirrotto led the Nittany Lions in interceptions for the second consecutive season in 2007. A physical player that loves to deliver a jarring hit, he has started all 26 games the past two seasons at safety and played a significant role in the success of Penn State’s Top 10 defense. Scirrotto has 10 career interceptions, moving him one away from moving into the school Top 10. The former West Deptford High School standout was fourth on the squad with 65 tackles last year, including a tackle for loss, with three interceptions, three pass breakups and one fumble recovery. His three interceptions were tied for ninth in the Big Ten. A 2006 first-team All-Big Ten selection, Scirrotto recorded a career-high 10 tackles at Michigan State last season, including 0.5 TFL, and returned an interception 53 yards to set-up a touchdown. A special teams standout, the talented and instinctive Scirrotto was on the field a team-high 1,029 snaps last season and is a probable post-season honors candidate.

A starter in all 26 games the past two seasons, Shipley anchors the offensive line. A hard-working leader for the offense, he has used his skills, tenacity and competitive nature to become one the top offensive linemen in the Big Ten. He was recognized by the conference coaches with his selection as the 2007 first-team All-Big Ten center and will be a candidate for the Rimington Award for the second consecutive year. The Coraopolis, Pa. native also is on the Watch List for the 2008 Rotary Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy.  The former Moon Area High School standout was selected to the 2007 ESPN.com All-Bowl Team after the Nittany Lions ran for a season-high 270 yards in the 24-17 win over Texas A&M. He also made his first career reception against the Aggies, rumbling for four yards after snaring a deflected pass. He saw action on 997 snaps last season, fourth-highest on the team.

“It’s a great honor to be put in the same category with all the great captains Coach Paterno has had before,” Shipley said. “We’re just going to go about our business, keep everybody moving together in the same direction and lead by example on and off the field.”

Williams enrolled at Penn State in January 2005 and has been a catalyst for the Nittany Lions as a receiver, returner and runner the past three seasons. The nation’s top prep player in 2004, Williams is a three-year starter coming off a season when he made a team-high 55 receptions, tied for No 3 on the school season list.  The immensely talented and hard-working athlete gained 1,121 all-purpose yards last year, second-highest on the team. He averaged a superlative 10.37 yards on his 108 touches. Williams continued to take on a larger role in the passing game, making a team-high 55 catches for 529 yards and three touchdowns. The former Eleanor Roosevelt HS All-American ranked third in the Big Ten in punt returns, averaging 11.0 yards on 23 returns. He swung the momentum of the Notre Dame clash with his electrifying, zig-zagging 78-yard touchdown return, earning the Pontiac Game Changing Performance for the second time in his outstanding career. Williams also averaged 6.3 yards per carry with one score.

A candidate for the 2008 Biletnikoff Award and other post-season accolades, Williams made 25 receptions in the last four games, lifting him into a tied for No. 4 on the school career receptions chart with 117, along with classmate Jordan Norwood and Jack Curry (1965-67). The dynamic playmaker also is No. 15 in Penn State career receiving yards (1,258), needing 262 yards to crack the top 10.

“It’s an honor. It doesn’t really change anything for me leadership-wise from the past three years,” said Williams. “We just want to work hard, go out and do the best we can to bring back a good season.”

Lee had a superlative junior season, earning 2007 first-team All-America honors from Pro Football Weekly. But, during practice on April 11, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during practice and is unlikely to play during the 2008 season. Lee had surgery on April 28 and his rehabilitation will take approximately nine months. A rising senior, Lee played as a true freshman in 2005 and has a redshirt year available. The vastly talented, instinctive and intelligent Lee ranked second in the Big Ten with 138 tackles last year, trailing only teammate Dan Connor.

A two-time Big Ten Defensive Player-of-the-Week honoree in 2007, Lee earned second-team all-conference honors in a league that featured two of the three finalists for the Butkus Award. His 138 tackles were No. 5 on the school season list.  Lee recorded double-figures in tackles in 10 of the last 11 games. An intense competitor who loves to hit, Lee also had 10.5 tackles for loss (minus-34), 3.5 sacks, forced three fumbles, recovered three fumbles and grabbed one interception. The swift and strong athlete also was second on the team with eight pass breakups. A first team Class AAAA all-state selection from Upper St. Clair High School, he was tied for first in the Big Ten in fumble recoveries and was tied for No. 7 in the conference in forced fumbles last year.

A starter in the last 26 games, Lee punctuated his marvelous junior season by earning 2007 Valero Alamo Bowl Defensive Player of the Game accolades. He recorded a game-high 14 tackles, tied for most in Alamo Bowl history, to lead a defensive unit that allowed Texas A&M just three points over the final 49 minutes of the game. He also had a minus-yardage hit and a pass break-up in the 24-17 victory to earn a berth on the ESPN.com All-Bowl Team. Lee earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honors last year and has earned Academic All-Big Ten honors twice.

“It’s an honor to be a captain and join the list of players that have been a captain prior to me,” Lee commented. “I’ve always dreamed of being a captain at Penn State. It’s a great responsibility, but we have a great senior class with a lot of leadership.”

The Nittany Lions completed spring practice on April 19, as a record crowd of 73,000 attended the annual Blue-White Game. Penn State students are in their final week of classes for the spring semester.

In his 43rd season as head coach, Joe Paterno’s squad returns 16 starters (8 offense, 6 defense, 2 specialists) from last year’s 9-4 squad that defeated Texas A&M in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Nittany Lions were ranked No. 25 in the final USA Today Coaches poll, earning their 33rd Top 25 finish under Paterno. Penn State has won 31 of its last 40 games, tied for eighth-best record in the nation over that span.

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Handful of Lions sign FA contracts

The day after the NFL draft is usually one of the busiest on the NFL calander. Undrafted rooks aplenty are putting ink to paper all over the league.

It’s no different today for a group of former Penn State Nittany Lion football players.

Athony Morelli, Matt Hahn, Terrell Golden and Austin Scott all inked deals with various teams.

Morelli was signed by the Arizona Cardinals, and there’s been some interesting talk out of Cardinals camp regarding the signing.

“He has all the tools you look for in a QB; an athletic body, very strong throwing arm and far better movement then I had expected, but is acutely under coached and unprepared for the job of being a professional QB.

Has a violent overhand delivery and when he’s on his game has as much ability as anyone in the draft. Can make all the throws; out, dig, fade and comeback. Going to have to start from have to start from square one with this player, but has a big upside. A 6th – 7th round steal

That’s from the website AZRedReport.com which covers the Cards.

Interesting that in the same article Morelli kind of ho-hums his time with the Nittany Lions saying he “made the best of it,” which is somewhat of a hidden slap to some of the coaches, if you ask me. Of course part of that is also how he was treated off the field.

My take? I think the kid is going to make it in the NFL for some time to come. Something tells me he will be on a roster for a handful of years. Now whether or not he stays with the Cards and ever gets a chance behind Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner, I don’t know. The Cards also had Tim Hasselback, Tim Rattay and Brian St. Pierre behind those two on their depth chart in 2007.

If he stays in the right system and responds to coaches the way he needs to in order to be successful, he could be OK.

The most interesting signing is Scott, who was cleared of rape charges two weeks ago and was picked up *before* Rodney Kinlaw. In fact as of this posting, Kinlaw has not signed anywhere.

Hahn, coming off a torn ACL in the Indiana game last year landed with the Raiders and Golden signed with the Eagles.

 

 

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Not a good day for PSU in the draft

9 p.m. update

The second round of the NFL Draft is complete…..and Dan Connor and Justin King are still awaiting to be picked.

Connor would have been a great fit with the New York Giants and the final pick of the round, but they opted for Terrell Thomas a cornerback from USC.

As mentioned before, the only significant mention of King from (better than ESPN analyst Mel Kiper) Mike Mayock was when NFL Network was showing highlights of Indiana receiver James Hardy blowing past the PSU secondary.

King has not even been mentioned on any “best available” lists, though some watching the ESPN coverage shot me a text and said Mel Kiper is sort of high on King. So we’ll see.

Connor now becomes somewhat of a steal for a team in the third round. But there were plenty of spots he “should” have landed in round two. Interesting that the Giants went corner with that last pick when their secondary actually got better later in the season and they weren’t fully healthy either.

NFL Draft second round update

About halfway through the second round of the NFL Draft and both Dan Connor and Justin King are still on the board. In fact the only mention of King on NFL Network’s coverage has been in the highlights shown of Indiana receiver James Hardy torching the PSU secondary last season.

The fact Connor is still around is somewhat of a surprise, despite talk his stock was falling. There was speculation earlier in the second round that the 49ers would take Connor, they passed him by.

And what’s up with Chad Henne not being selected yet?? Here’s quietly hoping on my end the Packers snag him in the second round.

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Knowledge is apparently confused

Despite his assertion that he is back on the squad, as are four other players, it’s apparent that Knowledge Timmons is somewhat confused by his status with the PSU football team.

Last night, both York Daily Record beat writer Frank Bodani and I got word from Timmons’ aunt that he was reinstated.

Despite attempts to contact PSU about the situation (and no returned calls or e-mails stating any different), director of football branding Guido D’Elia told multiple outlets that the status of the players has not changed.

The point here is this…..Timmons said it, Baker, according to Mark Brennan at FightOnState has mentioned it on his facebook site (which I have not personally viewed), so if this isn’t the case, maybe PSU needs to corral players and tell them to hush hush.

Speaking of Brennan, FOS is reporting today that a meeting of some sorts did apparently take place and there is “the chance” those players could return.

 

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Timmons’ aunt says group is reinstated

There are rumors around tonight that a handful of Penn State players have been reinstated to the football team.

Among them, defensive tackle Chris Baker, cornerback Knowledge Timmons, tight end Andrew Quarless, and linebacker Navarro Bowman.

According to Timmons’ aunt, Joan Flowers, who lives in the city of York, those four have indeed been reinstated by head coach Joe Paterno.

“Yes, they’re all on,” Flowers said Thursday night. “Everyone is back on the team.”

Flowers of course is not referring to defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who was suspended by the university earlier this spring and is eligible to return in August.

Penn State SID Jeff Nelson did not return a phone call as of this posting.

Flowers said she was informed by Timmons earlier Thursday that he would be returning.

“He just said he was back on the team,” Flowers said. “I think they (Timmons and head coach Joe Paterno) had a meeting.

“I’m happy for him. Whatever makes him happy. He is ready to prove himself. I haven’t really been told about whatever conversation was with Joe, but he told me he was confident he would be back on the team (today).”

Paterno reiterated at last Saturday’s Blue White game that the suspended group of players had to prove themselves academically. Flowers indicated that Timmons has been cracking the books this spring.

“Oh yes, I’m very proud of him for that. He is doing really well in school (this semester),” Flowers said.

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