Nitt Picks is Big and 33

This weekend was the Big 33 Game, a high school all star game between football studs from Ohio and Pennsylvania. The BIg 33 game is always a showcase for the future stars at Pitt, Penn State, and Ohio State. This year the game featured six future Nittany Lions, and had Mike Yancich not hyperextended his elbow it would have been seven. In all the Penn State kids did very well for themselves.

Pete Massaro

Massaro's sack for a nine-yard loss in the first quarter killed an Ohio drive that had reached Pa.'s 24. Ohio later attempted a field goal that was blocked by Pittsburgh-bound defensive back Andrew Taglianetti. Massaro also long-snapped on field goals, extra points and punts and was pinpoint all half.

Matt Stankiewitch

Stankiewitch, a Blue Mountain graduate, anchored a good Pa. line that held off a talented Ohio frontline. Pennsylvania was able to move the ball on the ground and through the air and that all started up front with Stankiewitch and his linemates.

Mark Wedderburn

Wedderburn, whose brother Floyd was an offensive lineman at Penn State in the late 1990s, was recruited by Penn State as a tight end, but played defensive end Saturday. Wedderburn, who attended Cardinal O'Hara, may have given the Lions something to think about after forcing a fumble in the first quarter and using his 6-foot-6 frame to knock down two passes in the second quarter.

Brandon Ware

Harrisburg defensive tackle Brandon Ware, who will start out at guard at Penn State, did well for himself on the inside, helping to limit an Ohio ground game that had players headed to schools like Miami, Michigan, Ohio State and West Virginia blocking for it.

David Soldner

Manheim Township kicker David Soldner, who will walk on at Penn State, showed off an impressive right leg. Soldner, who was an All-State performer and kicked a country-high 20 field goals last season, hit deep kickoffs all half, was pure on his extra-point attempts and booted a 39-yard field goal in the second half that was good by 15 yards.

And Mike Zordich , who played on the Ohio squad.

There was only one Penn Stater on the Ohio roster. LB/RB Michael Zordich caused one fumble as a linebacker, fumbled himself of a bad handoff on offense and made a heads-up play as the up man on a blocked punt that delayed — for a moment — an Pennsylvania score.

For more Big 33 coverage check out these sites.

And check out these video interviews with the PSU kids and my buddy Sean Fitz at BWI. It's rare for BWI to put this kind of stuff out there for free, so check it out.

Pete Massaro
Brandon Ware
David Soldner
Mike Zordich
Mark Wedderburn
Matt Stankiewitch

Life Ain't So Peachy in Zook Land

Perhaps the honeymoon is wearing off in Champaigne for Ron Zook. You would think Rashard Mendenhall would have nothing but nice things to say about the coach that shaped him into an NFL first round draft pick. You would be wrong.

"Everything always looks good on the outside," Mendenhall said. "Nobody really knows except for the people who are there and involved with it. The only thing being on the outside that you can know is what people allow you to know from talking to me or from talking to (Ron) Zook or anybody within the organization."

Bottom line for Mendenhall was that he didn't enjoy the season the way you think he might have.

"When you find things that were said, you can kind of read between the lines and see that everything wasn't as it appeared to be," Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall's current relationship with the Illinois football program can best be described as strained. You won't see him on the sidelines of Illinois games during the upcoming season. Or in future years either.

"To tell you the truth, as long as Ron Zook is there it will be hard for me to support the University of Illinois football team," Mendenhall said.

How boring would the offseason be without the drama?

National Champs

Congratulations to Shana Cox for bringing the NCAA championship home to Penn State in the womens' 400 meter race in track and field. Shana then anchored the National Champion 4x400 relay team along with Dominique Blake, Aleesha Barber, and Gayle Hunter. Way to go, ladies. WE ARE!

Etcetera

Fat old guys living the dream.

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