The Nittany Lions took practice outside on a beautiful day in Happy Valley. This was one of the shorter open practice sessions I've ever seen, with the team running just three plays while the media was there. Here are some takeaways.
- Sean Clifford scrambled twice. He looks a lot faster than I expected.
- Tommy Stevens was in full pads but did not take any reps while we were there.
- Shaka Toney ran with the first team defensive line. There's some stiff competition for the starting spot alongside Yetur Gross-Matos, so that battle is far from over.
- Marquis Wilson and CJ Brown got some reps against the first team offense. Tariq Castro-Fields and John Reid are in no danger of losing their starting spots, so this was probably just to get those two some good reps.
- Daniel George ran with the first team offense. There is usually a four-man rotation at receiver, so this is a great way to build some chemistry among those guys.
- Mike Miranda ran at left guard, while CJ Thorpe ran at right guard. James Franklin loves versatility from his linemen so it's good to see some guys get comfortable at multiple positions.
A big hole opened up at defensive tackle when Kevin Givens announced his decision to enter the NFL Draft. With spring practice at the halfway point, James Franklin seems to like his options for Givens' replacement.
"I think at the defensive tackle position (Antonio) Shelton has really grown. You see him taking a lot of the stuff that he's done in the weight room and really start to transfer it to the field. And then I think the other guy is (Judge) Culpepper. Culpepper is really starting to show some flashes that looks like he may be able to factor in. That's obviously not mentioning Windsor and PJ Mustipher, as well as some other guys."
KJ Hamler has had three position coaches in his three years in Happy Valley. With that much turnover, it's natural to take some time to get used to the way a new coach does it. His first few weeks with Gerard Parker have been all about making some adjustments.
Honestly, he's very competitive. He might get on us a lot but he does it all out of love. We're still getting to know him. He's still getting to know how we work so we might have some arguments on what to do or on this certain route or this certain play stuff like that, but it's all out of love. We're trying to learn him, he's trying to learn us. We're getting adjusted, like I said this is my third coach, so we're just trying to get used to him."
From Chris Godwin to DaeSean Hamilton, John Reid has gone up against some pretty high-level wide receivers over the past few seasons. Entering his final season, Jahan Dotson is the newest receiver to challenge him on a daily basis.
"We're definitely catching the ball this spring. Jahan (Dotson) looks really good, really smooth. I pretty much go against him every day in one on ones...Just the smoothness in his routes, the patience that he runs with, the way he's able to sell the post to a curl...The way he's able to sell that post and snap it down, you don't really see that here too much. I haven't gone against many receivers who can actually do that that well, and he's doing that with the whole route tree so going against him has been really good."