Pressers, Position Changes, and Practice: Spring Football is In the Air
It was about as eventful of a day as it can get in late March when it comes to college football. It began with a Bill O’Brien press conference and concluded with another Class of 2013 recruit giving Penn State a verbal commitment. In between, the first of fifteen spring practice took place and a typical blue Penn State jacket became the story of the day.
O’Brien, who has been living at the Penn Stater Hotel since arriving in State College, took questions from assembled members of the media regarding his first two month and a half months on the job, his expectations for the spring, and the status of several players. The three big pieces of news to come out were position changes, the spring status of running back Curtis Dukes, and O’Brien’s approach to watching film.
The switches by Bill Belton and Dakota Royer were already known, but O’Brien also mentioned that Curtis Drake would be moved from wide receiver to defensive back for the spring. “We’re gonna try him out on defense, and see how that goes,” said O’Brien. News regarding a different Curtis was also surprising as Dukes, the expected backup to Silas Redd who was productive at times last season, will not participate in spring practice. O’Brien cited academics being the reason for this and believes Dukes will be back in the summer. The third tidbit was O’Brien saying that he had not watched tape of Penn State’s offense from last year. Rather, he has elected to observe players first hand while showing the team film of the Patriots offense in order to teach his pro-style system.
Two lines in particular from the press conference would make Joe Paterno proud:
“It’s [the quarterback situation] an open competition, there’s no starter, and there might not be a starter named until the night before the Ohio game.”
“We feel we have a chance to have a good football team, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
Some things never change.
Less than three hours later, practice was officially underway. Drills were rather light as is expected on the first day. This makes it somewhat difficult to evaluate individual players right off the bat, but this new coaching staff does seem to have players excited and moving at high energy levels. Craig Fitzgerald remains insane, wearing shorts and a t-shirt in 45-degree weather, and Devon Smith was out on the practice field despite rather troubling news from earlier in the day that O’Brien declined comment on during his press conference.
The biggest story of the day; however, unfolded on the sidelines involving a player not on Penn State’s roster…yet. Former Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien was spotted wearing a Penn State jacket while watching practice from the sidelines. Before anyone goes crazy, it was unexpectedly cold at practice, and the jacket was handed to him by recruiting coordinator Bill Kavanaugh, but the writing appears to be on the wall with this being O’Brien’s second visit to Penn State. It would be a surprise to just about all at this point if he does not end up in Happy Valley.
Later on after practice ended, news became official that Class of 2013 three star defensive end Curtis Cothran had committed to Penn State, concluding a surprisingly cold spring day where a jacket ultimately became the most talked about story.
The man who was wearing it figures to be the center of attention over the next week as spring football marches on towards the Blue-White game.