They were the best players on their teams in high school. But they didn't come from high profile programs, or they didn't do the combine circuit, or they suffered serious injuries, or they were too short or too small. For whatever reason they didn't get noticed in the recruiting process. Some of them had opportunities to get free educations. They could have gone to Div. I-AA or a respectable MAC school and been the big men on campus. But they chose another path. They chose an uphill struggle where the odds are stacked against them. They will most likely spend the next four years taking a beating on the practice field with the scout team never getting to strap on the pads on game day. But they chose this path because they want to compete with the best. They have a dream of putting on the Blue and White and running out of the tunnel in front of 110,000 people. They came to Penn State to play for a living legend in the twilight of his career. They have dreams of becoming the next Ethan Kilmer or Josh Hull. Whatever their reason for choosing Penn State, they are the walk-ons, and you are now privileged to know them.
Matthew McGloin - #12
Bio: Overshadowed by fellow offensive teammates Eric Shrive and Hubie Graham, Matt McGloin had a stellar senior season throwing for 2445 yards and 22 TD in earning 2nd Team Class AAA All-State honors. In his career as a three year starter, McGloin passed for 5485 yards and 58 touchdowns. This past season McGloin threw for 311 yards on 14-of-18 passing in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs against Blue Mountain. For a scouting report lets turn to his home town beat writer, Donnie Johnson at Blog Sweat and Tears.
My scouting report: I really like Matt's game. He's got a lot of guts, he has a solid arm, it is accurate enough and he really matured as a decision-maker during his three years as a starter. The guy he always reminded me of was a high-school version of Drew Tate, the former Iowa quarterback. West Scranton was far and away the most exciting offensive team in the Lackawanna Football Conference last season, and Matt was the beneficiary of some talented skill-position players -- guys liike running back Shawn Bodtmann, receivers Chase Passeri and Shawn Irving and, of course, tight end and Illinois commitment Hubie Graham. McGloin also had a dominant line, led by massive prospect Eric Shrive, blocking for him. But none of those guys would have posted the numbers they did or had the avenue to shine that they had if it wasn't for McGloin.
Since joining the team this summer McGloin has turned some heads with his play. Most notably head coach Joe Paterno who had this to say at the preseason Media Day.
You're obviously only four days into practice, but how have the quarterbacks looked, and is there any thought at all about naming a starter?
No, no, not yet. We haven't run a scrimmage yet. I think they've all done well. Everybody keeps pushing and I don't and we have a walk on that's really impressed me. A true freshman kid, and I won't get into names because if I open it up for one freshman I've got to open it up for a lot of kids.
He didn't mention him by name, but you can bet Paterno was talking about McGloin.
Evan Lewis - #12
Position: Quarterback/Defensive Back
Hometown: Gettysburg, PA
Weight: 167 lbs
Bio: In his senior year Evan Lewis threw for a state high 2,765 yards and 31 touchdowns for the Gettysburg Warriors. For his career as a three year starter Evans threw for 5,263 yards and 57 touchdowns. He led his team to the District 3 Class AAA championship game and his fine play earned him the Class AAA Player of the Year Award in the process.
Jacob Fagnano - #19
Position: Wide Receiver/Defensive Back
Hometown: Williamsport, PA
Weight: 190 lbs
Bio: As a senior Jacob Fagano caught 20 passes for 446 yards and 4 touchdowns in just five games. Fagnano played for my high school alma mater, so I was disappointed to see my once proud school go a disappointing 0-10 last season. Some people believe Fagnano was partially to blame.
Another reason the football team has lost every game could be because of wimpy ass players like Jacob Fagnano. Jake thinks it's alright to be a pussy and sit out a bunch of games just because his ankle bone got separated into two parts. By my calculation he's got twice as many bones there as before, so he should be twice as fast.
You could say expectations are high in Williamsport.
David Keisling - #19
Hometown: Clarks Summit, PA
Weight: 191 lbs
Bio: Keisling tore his ACL just prior to his senior year, but he still played the entire season anyway rushing for 192 yards and 7 TD and passing for 1539 and 20 TD as a quarterback. On defense he recorded 61 tackles, 3 sacks and 6 INT. Not surprisingly he didn't get any Div. I-A offers due to the health concerns. Not deterred, Keisling went to Fork Union Military Academy to rehab and make a name for himself.
In fact, many players at FUMA were academically eligible but were under-recruited in high school due to injury or lack of national exposure. Dave Keisling, a defensive back, came to FUMA to rehabilitate an ACL injury and had an outstanding year, despite not being one-hundred percent physically. Keisling was invited this spring to walk on at the Penn State University football program and Coach Shuman predicts he will become an impact player in that program.
Let's hope he's right. This sounds like a kid with a lot of potential that just had a bad break. But you can't question his toughness or determination.
Jonathan (J.D.) Mason - #26
Position: Wide Receiver
Hometown: Phillipsburg, PA
Weight: 206 lbs
Bio: Mason was a standout athlete in football, basketball, and baseball for Philipsburg-Osceola High. His senior year he caught 27 passes for 551 yards and 6 touchdowns. But Mason's most impressive accomplishment may come on defense where he recorded nine interceptions as a sophomore, nine more as a junior, and seven as a senior. Here is what the scouts say.
The more you watch Mason on film the more you like him and see good versatility as a football player. He possesses great size with his height and athletically-built frame, and is very coordinated and comfortable with his body. He is not flashy and lacks the speed and fluidity to be considered a true threat with the ball as a receiver prospect, but he consistently places himself in the right positions to make plays and shows good natural athleticism at the position. Will shield defenders with his size and use a subtle push off to win the one-on-one jump ball matchup. Adjusts nicely to the deep ball and difficult throw; shows good body control for a tall athlete. Hands are soft, reliable and he consistently extends away from his body for the tough grab, particularly over his head. Our main concern with Mason is his projected productivity after the catch at the next level; his speed is marginal. He lacks good quickness when transitioning upfield and the burst or extra gear to initially separate from defenders. He is not a fast-twitched athlete and we project him more as an intermediate-to-deep possession receiver. Shows upside at safety with his size and athleticism. He is consistently around the football making plays and utilizes his size well on run support. Could continue to physically develop into an outside backer.
David Soldner - #28
Hometown: Lititz, PA
Weight: 205 lbs
Bio: As kickers go, Soldner has a very impressive resume.
The two-time Associated Press Quad-A First-Team All-State selection holds every kicking record in Township’s books — and he owns a couple of state records to boot.
Soldner is Pennsylvania’s all-time leader in kicking points (235, breaking Kelly’s record, ironically), field goals (tied for first with 35), field goals in a season (20 — last fall) and extra point percentage (130-of-136 for 96.5 percent).
He also holds school records for, among others, career field goals, career extra points, points in a season, points in a game, field goals in a season and extra points in a season.
The list is staggering.
Soldner also booted a school-record 50-yard field goal in the Streaks’ victory over Reading last fall, when he connected on 20-of-24 field goals and 38-of-40 extra points, helping Township win its first outright Section 1 championship since 1977.
The Streaks went on to reach the District 3/6 Quad-A semifinals for the first time in school history, before bowing out to Governor Mifflin and finishing the season 11-2 overall.
In Township’s first meeting with Governor Mifflin earlier in the season, Soldner booted a field goal late in the fourth quarter to force overtime, and then won it with another field goal on the Streaks’ second OT possession.
Soldner, who was a USA Today All-American selection after his junior season, was recently selected to play for Pennsylvania’s team in the prestigious Big 33 Game against Ohio’s top stars, set for June 16 in Hersheypark Stadium.
Soldner will surely redshirt this year and hope to earn a scholarship in 2009 as he battles to win the job to replace Kevin Kelly. And if that doesn't work out, at 6'1" and 205 lbs he may want to try out for safety.
Brian Irvin - #52
Hometown: Gettysburg, PA
Weight: 211 lbs
Bio: Irvin had an outstanding senior year recording 162 tackles (101 solo), 8.5 sacks and 1 INT. His impressive play in leading his team to the District III Class AAA Championship game earned Irvin first team All-State honors. He was also a standout baseball player.
James Van Fleet - #54
Hometown: Loyalsock, PA
Weight: 219 lbs
Bio: Playing for a AA school like Loyalsock makes it hard to get noticed in the recruiting game unless your name is Terrelle Pryor. But Van Fleet stood out and was recognized as a second team AA All-State selection and earned a spot on the North South All Star Game. He twice smashed the school record for tackles with 127 as a junior and 156 tackles as a senior. He also averaged over eight yards per carry as a fullback and reportedly runs a 4.35 40-yard dash. Here is a scouting report from his hometown paper.
Jamie Van Fleet, Loyalsock
One of the district’s best all-around players, Van Fleet is an emotional sparkplug who has helped Loyalsock enjoy its best regular season since 2001. A four-year starter at linebacker, Van Fleet is an athletic, hard-hitting defender who is excellent against the run and can defend the pass as he showed last week when he knocked down a throw in the end zone.
Van Fleet leads Loyalsock in tackles and essentially is the defense’s quarterback. A smart player on and off the field, Van Fleet understands the game well and has helped Loyalsock make a big defensive turnaround after last year’s 6-5 finish.
“He understands what everyone else is supposed to be doing,” Loyalsock coach Dick Delaney said. “(Assistant coach) Alex Jackson does a great job with the defense and has given them the liberty to make calls on their own and Jamie is a guy we look to to make those calls.”
Van Fleet is as versatile offensively as he is talented defensively. Loyalsock has used Van Fleet in the slot, at fullback and as a tight end. A good blocker, Van Fleet also has run for 240 yards while catching eight passes.
One of several seniors who spent their offseasons working to make 2007 a memorable season, Van Fleet will be trying to help Loyalsock win its first playoff game this decade. He ran for 77 yards and had 10 tackles in a 25-0 Week 4 win over Hughesville and a repeat performance could give the Lancers a big boost against the surging Spartans.
Sean Luchnick - #89
Position: Wide Receiver
Hometown: Helotes, TX
Weight: 187 lbs
Bio: Luchnick had an impressive senior season setting a school record 65 catches for 851 yards and 12 touchdowns. He saw some interest from some Div. I-A schools like Purdue, South Florida, Kentucky, and Oregon, but nobody liked him enough to give him an offer. He could have gone to a small school but he had his heart set on playing Div. I-A football. After his season he sent out some desperation highlight tapes and saw some interest from Penn State.
What exactly is a preferred walk-on?
I sent (Penn State) a highlight tape about a week before signing day. They told me they liked me but they didn’t have any more scholarships left. So they asked me if I wanted to be a preferred walk-on, which means you’re guaranteed a spot on the team all four years. You get everything but the scholarship.
I’ve got a little bit of academic money, but they told me as soon as I get in a game, they’ll pay for school anyway. So I’m planning on that.
I wouldn’t go there if I didn’t think I had a chance to get on the field. They have three senior receivers, and after that, it’ll be pretty much wide open.
Mikel Berry - #94
Position: Defensive Line
Hometown: Upper Arlington, OH
Weight: 255 lbs