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Notes and Observations from Penn State’s 8/4 Practice

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Some thoughts after watching the first 25 minutes of Penn State’s practice from Saturday.

Patrick Koerbler

We were able to attend the first 25 minutes of Saturday’s practice, and while the first five minutes of it was just stretching, there were still a couple notable things to takeaway.


  • This was my first time at a Penn State practice since my Onward State days in March 2016, but I was quickly reminded of just how fast-paced and organized the practices are. There’s very little waiting around, and guys are always moving from drill to drill.
  • Will Fries is a very, very big human being. He’s listed at 312 pounds, which is just a seven-pound increase from last year, but it must be a dramatic seven pounds because he’s noticeably bigger. Like when he was standing next to 304-pound Rasheed Walker, it was very obvious who the bigger man was.
  • Speaking of true freshman, Nana Asiedu was right in the thick of things with the coaches watching drills. Sure it’s tough for him to not be out there playing, but he appeared to be adjusting well to his off-the-field role.
  • Jake Zembiec was only wearing shorts and t-shirt, but he did participate in one of the warm-up throws. Not quite sure what the situation is there.
  • Tommy Stevens seems to have added some more weight/muscle since last year. Probably just natural progression, but could also be bulking up for a heavier workload.
  • Will Levis could be the most physically impressive Penn State quarterback since Daryll Clark. Sheesh. He looks like a legitimate tight end.
  • Juwan Johnson, Miles Sanders, and Journey Brown were working on kick returns, and I noticed No. 4 was out there with them too. I say “No. 4” because for the first five minutes I thought it was Nick Scott — nope, it was Ricky Slade. We’ll see how Slade fares picking up the playbook, but he was much bigger than I thought he was going to be. He’s all of the 201 pounds he’s listed.
  • Punt returners were catching punts with the boxing gloves on, while a coach (not sure who — maybe Tim Banks?) either stood right in front of them or tugged on their jersey until the last second. It was the usual suspects: DeAndre Thompkins, John Reid, KJ Hamler, Mac Hippenhammer, etc.
  • For snapping drills, Trace McSorley worked with Michal Menet who is the leader in the clubhouse for the first-team center spot with Connor McGovern’s move to guard.
  • Seemed to be a special teams drill — linebackers, safeties, and even Jonathan Thomas was involved — working on tackling. Two lines of players, one coach would roll a big padded wheel, and whichever side the wheel rolled too, the player would wrap-up making sure to keep their head up. Micah Parsons and Lamont Wade worked as a duo for one of the rolls, and I have to say, seeing two of Pennsylvania’s best high schools prospects of the last couple years at Penn State together made me think back to James Franklin’s opening press conference “Dominate The State” remarks.
  • Manny Bowen, who was not made available to the media for the player portion of media day, was in attendance for practice. He was too far away for me to see what he looked like physically, but despite James Franklin and Brent Pry being cautious about his role, I would be rather surprised if he isn’t a starter in 2018.
  • Can confirm that Zack Kuntz is tall and added some good weight, but he still has quite a bit to go physically.
  • Last but not least, I saw a wasp (the insect, not the social group) carrying a moth. This has nothing to do with football, but I was highly intimidated by this wasp.