Meet the Freshmen, Part II

 Freshmen: They walk around campus wearing their high school letterman jackets and using a map to find their classes. They aren't good for much, but in a few years they will be the leaders of your football team. This is the second in a three part series to introduce you to the freshman class of 2008.

(part one here)

Mike Mauti

Position: Linebacker
Hometown: Mandeville, LA
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 215

Bio: Mike finished high school as a four star recruit, ranked the 8th best player in his state and the 16th best linebacker in the nation (Rivals.com).  By all accounts he is your classic Penn State linebacker: good instincts, hard hitting, and hard working.  Said his high school coach, Guy LeCompte:

"He goes full throttle both on and off the field. If you ask him to go get you a glass of water he will give you 110 percent to go get you that glass of water."

Quite possibly the best quote I've ever read...I mean if you are thirsty, there is no better linebacker in the Big Ten, quite possibly the nation, to be standing next to than Mike Mauti.

He enrolled early in order to start working out with the team and appears to have performed well.

Chances of Playing This Year: Very likely on special teams and probable at likebacker.  He appeared on the depth chart as an OLB and appears to have the size to step in right away.  With any additional injuries to the already think linebacker position and he is looking at significant time.

Deon'tae Pannell

Position: Offensive Tackle
Hometown: Birmingham, MI
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 300

Bio: Deon'tae was listed as a three star on Rivals and four star on Scouts out of Michigan.  He choose Penn State over offers from Michigan and Michigan State, amongst others.  He played center is high school and was a very important pickup for Penn State.

He also appears to have been very close with his high school coach, Brendan Flaherty:

"Coach Flaherty was kind of like a second father, since mine wasn’t around," Pannell said. "He taught me lessons about being trustworthy and being a leader. He set examples of being a good person no matter where you are. [Because of his lessons] I always try and be a leader wherever I am and no matter what I’m doing."

His coach has equally compelling things to say about his former player:

"He's the best player and best person I have ever coached in 15 years. He has it all. I think he's going to play offense in college. With the way he moves they might consider him for defense."

So besides being a good kid, he appears to be a very mobile player and fills an important void on an OL depth chart that gets real thin after this season.

Chances of Playing This Year: Because of the talent Penn State currently has on the line, he probably isn't looking at much time in 2008.  While he appears to be a great player, he has a great opportunity to learn under the veteran line before being called on heavily in 2009.

A.J. Price

Position: Wide Receiver
Hometown: Reston, VA
Height: 6'4"
Weight:175

Bio: A.J. was rated a three star by Scouts and a two star by Rivals.  He doesn't appear to have much mass, but given his height, I can help but wonder if he was picked up as a project.  He did receive an offer from Michigan, so he must have shown something in high school.  He does appear to run well:

"I got first place in the 200 and the 400 and the long jump in districts and regionals," said Price. "We have states on Friday and Saturday. I'm just doing the 400, long jump and our relays. I can't do the 200 because we're only allowed to do three running events."

Youtubery shows a great knack for kickoff returns and stretching out the defense.

Chances of Playing This Year: Similar to Pannell, he was brought on to fill a monster void that will be left when the current senior class graduates.  He probably isn't looking at much time on the field this season, but if the coaches and work on his route running, he could end up a very productive receiver in a couple of years.

Andrew Radakovich

Position: Offensive Line
Hometown: Steubenville, OH
Height: 6'4"
Weight:285

Bio: Andrew's scholarship offer at a major D1 program seems unusual considering the other schools interested.  It's also unusual because the story involves another man name Radakovich, who somehow is not related to Andrew:

Andrew Radakovich's road to a full-ride scholarship to play football at Penn State for coach Joe Paterno came thanks to Dan Radakovich, who is no relation, but is the assistant head football coach at Robert Morris University - a place that Andrew Radakovich turned down.

Radakovich, who is retiring after 48 years of coaching, passed tapes of the Steubenville High School graduate onto to Bill Kenney, who is the offensive tackles and tight ends coach at Penn State, where Radakovich played, graduated from in 1957 and coached from 1957-1969.

I mean seriously, two Radakovich's?!? (Read the rest of that story for more quirky lines, including the unveiling of the nick name "Bad Rad" and the use of the word stupendous.)  There are a lot of questions about this kid, but he appears to have made his way in the game by working his tail off and those are often the type of players who are able to make the most improvements at the collegiate level.

Chances of Playing This Year: Again, lineman=unlikely, compounded further by him probably needing a lot of work.

Matt Stankiewitch

Position: Center
Hometown: Schuylkill Haven, PA
Height: 6'4"
Weight:295
Bio: Matt was rated the eight best center in the nation by Rivals and chose Penn State over offers from Pitt, Rutgers and WVU.  He was selected to the first team AAA All-State team his senior year and appears to have blue collar mentality that will fit in well with the current group of linemen.  His favorite song is "Your Love" by The Outfield's (I can't seem to find a video to embed, link to funny looking hair here). 
Chances of Playing This Year: I've covered a lot of linemen in this post and the story is pretty much the same: there just isn't room.  Most project him as a center, and as a result he has some adjustments to make in his playing style.  Look for him next year.
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