We've already talked about the return game today, and why there's reason for hope for Penn State in that area heading into 2010, but what about some of the other spots?
In keeping with our special teams theme of the day, the Daily Collegian caught up with kicker Collin Wagner to talk about the unit, from the punters to himself. First, the drama that is the punting situation.
Though Wagner was quick to add the position is still "wide open" heading into fall practice, he said Fera and Nye have punted pretty well. Butterworth enrolled for the second summer session, thus allowing him to workout with his teammates before their first official practice.
So, it looks like the Graham Zug experiment is thankfully over. It's also nice to know that there is at least a lively competition ongoing to take over the position from Jeremy Boone. No one is really sure what to expect out of the punt game this year, but any time you have guys pushing themselves for a position, it can only be a good thing for the team. It also means if one of these guys flames, Penn State will have other options rather than having to soldier on with one underachieving player.
Wagner also talked about his own game a little.
"I'm just trying to be able to hit from 51, 52, 53 [yards] give it a chance from there," Wagner said. "It's all different [during the summer], but as far as me just going out kicking by myself, I can go out 55, 56 [yards]."
Wagner has been asked if having a new quarterback made him focus on improving his distance, but he said it's more so about him building off the confidence he established after completing one full season.
Most folks would probably settle for consistency in the 35-49 yard range, but it's good to see Wagner pushing himself. Whether he'll say it or not, he's going to have a more important role this season behind an offense that might not always deliver the most makeable kicks
Odrick Heads To Camp
"It was very important to Jared to report on time," Rosenhaus said. "The other day he said to me, 'Do everything you can so I can report Thursday night for the first meeting.'"
Odrick is the front-runner for a starting job as a replacement for veteran Phillip Merling, who hurt his Achilles' tendon this month and will miss the entire season.
"There was an added sense of urgency because of the injury to Merling," Rosenhaus said. "We thought there was chance for Jared to be the starting end."
Looks to be the perfect situation for Jared. You've gotta love that attitude, too, in an era where rookies who've proved nothing at the pro level think they can hold out if teams don't bend to their contract demands
Crawford Talks D-Line
The Nittany Lions' 2009 leader in sacks, Jared Odrick, must be replaced, and Devon Still is being pegged to do so. Much of the defensive line's success hinges on how Still fills the void left by the 2009 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and if he can come occupy two, sometimes three, blocks.
Crawford's liked how Still has stepped into his new role thus far.
"He's been someone I've been learning from too," Crawford said. "We're at the same point now where we're both juniors on the field, and we're learning together.
The Collegian also notes that no one is certain of Brandon Ware's status except that he's probably poking around somewhere in Joe Paterno's doghouse.
It'd be a lot to expect of Still on his own to come in and be Jared Odrick. If the defensive line is going to be great rather than just good this year, the Lions will rely on depth across the front rather than complementing one dominant player. Of course, Larry Johnson seems to have a knack for finding guys that can break out and become monsters, though, so you never know.
In Scores of Other Games
- John Walters of Fanhouse says Terrelle Pryor is the Big Ten's only true candidate for the Heisman Trophy. [Fanhouse]
- Yours Truly tells John Walters why he's full of crap. [SB Nation Pittsburgh]
- Stefen Wisniewski has been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. [GoPSUsports.com]
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