Monthly Archives: February 2009

One of my favorite bowl moments

Got word today that longtime Hazelton Standard Speaker editor/columnist Ray Saul passed away yesterday.

Saul, 82, pretty much covered everything under the sun when it came to sports and wrote a weekly column in recent years that always made mention of past Hazelton legends.

Saul was just out at the Rose Bowl in late December-January.

You may remember reading two seasons ago at the Alamo Bowl Saul provided the media room with one of the most hilarious moments I’ve ever been around, proclaiming that Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno could still “do it,” which prompted a great exchange between the two.

The audio is so classic I have it saved and won’t delete it.

Paterno was actually quoted in the Standard Speaker story this morning, noting his long friendship with Saul.

Condolences to his family and colleagues that knew him well.

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Combine update

Defensive backs are the last to perform at the NFL Scouting Combine and that comes tomorrow.

Fight On State has a complete recap of what the PSU guys did.

A couple of notes.

Aaron Maybin’s 40-time was a little disappointing according to his trainer Steve Saunders, but he expects it to improve. Maybin is expected back in Lancaster to resume training on Friday according to Saunders.

Derrick Williams’ agent, former Penn State wide receiver Chaffie Fields, said Williams completed the drills while sufferring from the flu. If you caught any of NFL Network’s first day coverage of the combine, former NFL GM Charlie Casserly said there are two things you must never do as player or team. That is work out hurt and evaluate a prospect while he isn’t 100-percent (Casserly said that while talking about Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree.)

Penn State holds its pro-day next month, so all the prospects will have a chance to better Combine times, etc.

The winner from the PSU side has to be wide receiver Deon Butler who was a blur during the 40 and  had good numbers in the other drills.

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Shipley drawing hometown interest

Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Trib-Review is in Indianapolis covering the NFL Scouting Combine and has a story in today’s edition about former Penn State center A.Q. Shipley and the interest the Pittsburgh Steelers have in him.

Shipley was tabbed an All-American last season and won the Rimington Award given to the top center nationally.

Meanwhile you can also check out Todd McShay’s take on defensive end Aaron Maybin. Maybin is getting a lot of hype in recent days, specifically from NFL Network’s Charles Davis (who by the way, is the best college football analyst on television.)

Colleague Frank Bodani also has a good piece today in incoming recruit Garry Gilliam of Milton Hershey.

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The D-Will effect

A little shameful self promotion…

Thanks to Blue White Illustrated for another opportunity to write for the pub. You can check out my feature story on Derrick Williams and his impact on the Penn State program by clicking here. Interesting comments from Williams’ former teammates Aaron Maybin and his former HS coach Rick Houchens.

I get the sense that DWill is the kind of guy that people will grow to appreciate more and more as the years roll by. I’d probably put him in the same category as a Mike Robinson in terms of importance.

In the handful of times I’ve talked to MRob over the last few months he’s always mentioned Williams as a leader, as someone the program can be proud to have as a representative.

BWI has the story up for free, so I encourage you to surf on over and check it out.

Williams and other former Nittany Lions will be working out at the NFL Scouting Combine starting tomorrow. The combine runs through Monday. It’s spread out too and NFL Network is providing live TV coverage while Sirius NFL Radio is broadcasting live from Indy during the four day event.

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Devlin speaks on PSU

Kevin Tresolini of The News Journal has a story in today’s edition talking to former Penn State backup Pat Devlin.

Among the highlights from the story, which you can read in full here:

Devlin detailed his conversations with Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno saying he called the coach just to ask if he could explore other options. Devlin said Paterno told him he can do whatever he wants.

“I called him back on Wednesday and he said he thought it would be a distraction [if Devlin stayed with the team],” Devlin said. “I didn’t think anybody would even know I was talking to other schools. But that’s the way he felt.”

The other interesting thing coming out of it is that Devlin said that he still maintains a good relationship with some of the Penn State staff.

“From top to bottom, everybody [at Penn State] was great. I just got a call from Tom Bradley [Penn State defensive coordinator] checking up on me. So no bridges are burned. I don’t think Joe’s happy about it, but no looking back. I loved the experience I had there. I made friends I’ll never forget. I played in games I’ll never forget. Sad to see it’s over, but it was a business decision.”

What else is Bradley going to do? Rip the kid publically for being a distraction? Of course you don’t want to burn bridges, but bottom line, Devlin saw the handwriting on the wall going into 2009 knowing that the job was Clark’s. He made the best decision for himself. At least on paper, right now he did.

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Maybin update

Here is today’s story on the incoming Penn State recruiting class.

Just talked to Aaron Maybin for a totally unrelated story coming out next week in Blue White Illustrated, but I asked about  his invitation to the combine and he did say he will attend.

Maybin was one of eight former Penn State players invited last week. Seems like a no-brainer move just due to the fact that he will be able to interview with the NFL execs. He still plans to do Penn State pro day in March as well.

A few weeks ago when I went down to Power Train in Lancaster to catch up with the PSU guys working out with Steve Saunders, Mo Evans said if he got an invite he’d go and Saunders said it would be a decision between Maybin and his agent as to whether to attend the combine or not.

Maybin said he expects all eight who got an invite to attend, but he hasn’t talked to any of his former teammates about going yet.

Now speaking of the agent….here we are on Feb. 5th and Maybin still does not have one.

“I have it narrowed down to some people,” Maybin said, “but I still haven’t picked one yet.”

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Live signing day blog

Welcome to the now annual live signing day blog for National Letter of Intent Day.

8 p.m. update: Just talked to both Eric Shrive and Curtis Drake.

Of note from the conversation, Shrive said he has been told to “be ready to play,” this season, though he isn’t sure what tackle spot he will be at yet.

Drake on the other hand has been told he will have to come in as almost like an emergency quarterback, and once he arrives on campus will begin working out with the quarterbacks, but expects to compete more for time with the wide receivers and cornerbacks.

Shrive said something interesting saying that had he given a verbal to Notre Dame he thinks that more teams would have tried to sway him away from the Irish than they did after he verballed to Penn State. “If I wasn’t going to my home school it would have been different,” Shrive said. “I really think they knew I was locked into Penn State.”

Shrive said he likes the relationship he has with Dick Anderson and Bill Kenney and Drake had high praise for his recruiter, Ron Vanderlinden.

By the way a quick note, thanks to all who logged on. As was the case last LOI day, I’ve had one of the busiest days on this blog. Close to 2,500 hits in about seven hours and in the last year the number is over 61K, that’s thanks to people who link like BSD and also colleagues and good friends Mike Gross,  Jeff Reinhart and Donnie Collins.  So thanks again.

2:54 update: That should do it for the signings for Penn State. Little, if any drama. I think most expected Jenkins to go to Florida and the Jim Noel decision wasn’t a make-or-break deal either.

Brown is a major addition to the class and could make an impact this season. At 6-3 he represents that shift we’ve seen in recent years to taller receivers recruited by Penn State.

I have interviews later in the day lined up with West Scranton’s Eric Shrive, colleague Donnie Collins is doing a live chat with Shrive on his blog later tonight, which you can follow along with right by clicking here.

Also I’ll be talking to West Catholic’s Curtis Drake tonight. I’ll have updates from those guys later on.

The gems in this class? Easily Newsome, who enrolled in January, Darrell Givens, Brown and Shrive. I think there is some potential for some underrated guys to make an impact too, but this recruiting process is such a crap shoot we will have to wait and see.

There are two things I point to when looking at this class and Penn State recruiting in general. First, they are recruiting bigger, “modern day” offensive linemen. Shrive is 6’7, Arcidiacono is 6’5, Cadogan is 6’7, <!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>Gress is 6’7. Of those I’d peg Shrive the most ready based on what I’ve read and seen.

The other thing, Penn State is being rather aggressive heading toward the Class of 2010. They are already going after major in-state players and have eyes and ears on players in California and some of the bigger name prospects out there for ’10.

It’s a shift in recruiting philosophy….they aren’t hesitant to go after these other schools….now what does that mean long term? Who knows, but it can’t hurt, can it.

2:33 update: Delaware wide receiver Justin Brown has picked Penn State over Rutgers, the Nittany Lions get a receiver who may make an immediate impact with this 2009 football team.

1:31 update: ESPN U says PSU’s class is the 15th best in the country in their up to date rankings based on today’s signings.  Justin Brown is coming up in 29 minutes.

Check that Brown is at 2:30, my bad. all 25 players who previously committed to Penn State have faxed and signed LOIs to Penn State’s football office, per FOS and BWI.

12:55 update: ESPN U just dubbed Penn State “decommit-U, talking about Darrell Givens, Kevin Newsome and Anthony Fera opting to re-open the recruiting and choose PSU, saying Joe Paterno has done a great job in that respect.

Darrell Givens is getting some run on ESPN U right now, dubbed a “fluid and smooth athlete,” but Tom Luginbill’s question for the class was the quarterback…Luginbill said he wasn’t totally convinced that Newsome is the quarterback Galen Hall wants for the offense, but he’s the only one right now.

They are chatting up Paterno’s age and extension, with Tommy Tuberville saying Paterno has a great mind, and you do whatever you can to recruit against him.

Todd McShay (who?) says that there are too many spots to fill on this team with the departure of Maybin, Evans, the secondary, the offensive line. (side note: when did Todd McShay become a recruiting guru? Just asking)

Luginbill reminds McShay that they were one play away from playing for the BCS title, saying there is no need to worry.

12:33 update: Just checked in with FightOnState’s running blog and they are reporting that cornerback Jim Noel has yet to fax his LOI to Boston College. hmmm, might Penn State be back in play?

By the way, Kevin Newsome and Ty Howle, for enrolling early, do not sign LOIs today.

12:17 update: ESPN U has listed LSU as the No. 1 class, USC No. 2, Texas No. 3, Ohio State No. 4 and Florida No. 5 so far….no mention of Penn State as a possible break through in their top ten. Nor will their be, losing Jenkins was that big. Scout has PSU No. 12 right now.

Manti Te’o, the No. 1 linebacker in America (Hawaii) is up next. And he just picked Notre Dame….OVER USC….HUGE upset in the early afternoon signees.

Noon update: There’s going to be a small break here, Justin Brown doesn’t sign until 2:30 this afternoon, meanwhile I’ll keep filling in the pieces here as to what is going on with the signings.

ESPN U is killing CBS College Sports so far on the TV side of things….that’s because ESPN U has dedicated NINE hours of coverage to this, including putting the Jenkins announcement live on Sportscenter.

CBSC is doing live updates on the half hour to update viewers. Rivals radio had everything earlier this morning.

Garry Gilliam is in the fold at PSU.

By the way, props to colleague Sean Fitz at BWI who informed me moments ago he slept at the office last night. Well done. Mark Rypien would be proud.

11:25 a.m. update: Offensive lineman Eric Shrive has faxed his LOI to PSU. Nate Cadogan and Glenn Carson are in the fold as well.

11:10 a.m. update: Jenkins has officially chosen Florida over Penn State, USC and Notre Dame.

10:41 a.m. update: Jenkins announcement coming up on ESPN in 24 minutes. HS teammate Mike Wallace has faxed his letter into PSU already.

10:39 a.m. update: A few more letters are about to come into Penn State including Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, who per Nate Bauer of BWI will sign at 11 a.m.

Bauer also reports that Tariq Tounge will meet with Penn State coahces in the coming weeks to pitch coming in as a preferred walk-on.

10 a.m. update: There isn’t a ton of news on the Nittany Lions front just yet, however cornerback Jim Noel, who was thought to be waivering between his original commitment of Boston College and Penn State, stuck with his original commitment of the Eagles this morning.

I will be adding the updates as they become available. As of this writing at 10 a.m., ESPN U is coming on the air with it’s signing show.

You can keep up with the signings here, or here.

So far Penn State has eight letters in from Curtis Drake, Christian Kuntz, Mark Arcidicano, Devon Smith, Adam Gress, Jordan  Hill, John Urshel and Frank Figueroa.

The latest on linebacker Jelani Jenkins is this. The Washington Post reported this morning, through sources, that Jenkins will indeed sign with Florida.

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