Author Archives: Cory Lestochi

Penn State Replaces OC Kirk Ciarrocca with Former Texas OC, Mike Yurcich

No time wasted.

After a single season at the offensive helm, offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca is gone. Head coach James Franklin wasted little time finding a solution to the dismal offensive performances, countless turnovers, and inefficiencies in the red zone. The solution: former Texas offensive coordinator, Mike Yurcich.

Mike Yurcich, although highly touted, does present quite a flight risk. The offensive mind was only in Austin for a single season as the offensive coordinator and running backs coach. Before that, a brief one year stint at Ohio State as the pass game coordinator and QBs coach, and before that a longer tenure at Oklahoma State as the offensive coordinator.

During his last season at Texas, the Longhorns ranked 8th in scoring offense, 37th in rushing offense, and 27th in passing offense. More importantly, Texas was 43rd in converting red zone visits into touchdowns–Penn State was 110th. Additionally, Texas gave the ball away only 9 times compared to Penn State’s 17 times. It appears to be an obvious improvement in the places Penn State struggled in most.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this replacement is the mindset. Kirk Ciarrocca is a great offensive coach, but it seemed at times that his philosophy clashed with James Franklin’s. For example, KC didn’t seem to emphasize big play production as much as Franklin would have liked. That is why the hire of Mike Yurcich is more of a opportunity to improve than a detriment on Kirk Ciarrocca’s ability. When you have a chance to go get your guy you do it. James Franklin deserves a lot of credit for not sitting back and hoping things would just get better on their own.

With a host of weapons back for new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, the offense could be looking at a bounce back year in 2021. However, it will be starting quarterback, Sean Clifford’s 3rd offensive playbook in three years.

Penn State Nittany Lions Drop To Program-Worst 0-5

It’s quite astonishing isn’t it? In a storied program’s history, Penn State has never started 0-5–until yesterday. Saturday’s 41-21 defeat to the Iowa Hawkeyes will also snap a streak of winning seasons dating back to the 2004 season. That’s right. Through everything this football program has been through in the past decade this season is on pace to be the worst by far.

The worst part? It doesn’t seem to be getting better. As first reported by Hardcore College Football (@hardcorecfb) prior to the game, TE Pat Freiermuth is out for the season with a disclosed shoulder injury that will require surgery. I am hearing it is a labrum injury, which would make sense since the injury occurred during the Ohio State game and Freiermuth attempted to play with it during the past two games. The shoulder labrum is tricky because depending on the severity of the tear it might not even hurt him unless he does specific tasks. Regardless, he will have loss of range of motion and strength in that shoulder until it is surgically reattached. (I am no doctor, but I suffered a football-caused shoulder labrum injury myself)

Besides the injury of Penn State’s best remaining player, HC James Franklin and OC Kirk Ciarrocca decided to roll with backup QB Will Levis to start the game. Although he was able to pound his way down the field in his second series he suffered the same fate as his predecessor–the turnover bug. So Penn State brought QB Sean Clifford back into the game, where as Ben Jones put it perfectly, fit his entire game into one quarter–the good and the bad. With the turnovers still the glaring issue with this offense and the Will Levis experiment failing, where do they turn now?

Perhaps the most devastating aspect of the game was the defensive line. Although Shaka Toney flashed, the majority of the game saw the defensive line being backed right into their fellow teammates standing four yards behind them. Typically, Iowa’s ground & pound offensive is no match for Penn State defenses–that was not the case today as Kirk Ferentz grounded his offense to his 100th career Big Ten win.

Finally, the effort seemed worse again Saturday. It looked like they showed some fight in the Nebraska game that might translate into better effort for the remainder of the season, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, after getting down in the first half (again), it looked like this Penn State team was begging for mercy instead of clawing their way back. Even as Clifford had 2 strikes for 2 TDs on 2 plays, the momentum never felt to be in Penn State’s sole possession. The only thing I can think of is this team has to find a way to start faster and pray that the other team gifts some early mistakes. Otherwise, we may be in for more of the same.

Next is a trip to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines, who in their own right are struggling after switching QBs after being down 17-0 to Rutgers. They fought their way back and put away the Scarlet Knights in triple overtime. If you stick to historical trends, don’t expect Penn State’s level of play to be better at Michigan, but it’s 2020 and maybe the Big House will serve these historically awful Nittany Lions well.

As Penn State Drops to 0-4 After A Loss To Nebraska, It’s Time To Approach The Remainder Of The Season Differently

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times–or even four times? Then what?

After the loss to Indiana, most fans and critics alike judged this Penn State football team still as a College Football Playoff Contender and a possible B1G Championship Contender. Even after losing to Ohio State at home, most analyzed this team, including me, from the perspective that this team is still supposed to be good if not great.

But now after dropping back-to-back games to not so good opponents in Maryland and Nebraska, it’s time to reevaluate how we assess this Penn State football team moving forward. I don’t mean we go easy on them or find excuses for them. I mean looking at this team with a different lens–from a lower level of expectations.

If you want to continue to judge this team as if they are near the top of the college football world, that’s your choice. But I am sick of writing the same gloomy column week in and week out. The storyline hasn’t changed.

Penn State came into this season unprepared and behind the chains. Did COVID-19 set them back? Of course it did, but it also was something every other program had to plan for. It was unfortunate that they lost Journey Brown, Noah Cain, Micah Parsons, and had to break in a new offensive coordinator, but that is no excuse for the product we have seen half way through the season.

So I could sit here and tell you all the things the coaching staff continued to do wrong on Saturday, like: continuing to defer the ball to the second half when the defense has shown no signs of life early in games, not pulling Sean Clifford after that awful interception, not giving Will Levis–or any other QB more first team reps in practice this week, kicking a 56-yd FG down three scores in the third quarter, down by just seven throwing three fade routes during a streak of eight continuous incomplete passes while a decent inside running game was working, and not obviously disciplining players for behavior penalties like the unnecessary roughness on Brandon Smith or the taunting by C.J. Thorpe.

But I think it’s time to look at the moral victories. Yes, if this team was in contention for B1G titles and more; moral victories would not be good enough, but the sad fact of the matter is: This team isn’t close to that right now. Most 0-4 programs are trying to take away things they can build off of for next season and that’s where this team should be. Punt this season, because there is only 2-3 winnable games left on this schedule and I find it hard to believe they win more than one due to the psyche of the team.

Therefore, let’s look at the positives. If you aren’t done being angry at this team and coaching staff, I understand, but my optimistic personality requires me to find something good to takeaway from Saturday:

  1. The team fought back. Again, after being down in the first half due to awful play and 10 points off turnovers, the team came back in the second half and played better. The offense got a spark from Will Levis and for a moment there it felt like this team was actually alive. When Penn State scored, the defense got a stop, and there was a solid punt return by Jahan Dotson; it was the first, full, good, team sequence in quite awhile.

2. The young guys show promise. Freshmen tailbacks Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee combined for 99 yards on the ground with just 12 carries. Both also had runs for over 30 yards. WR Parker Washington had some incredible catches late and racked up 5 receptions for 70 yards, while KeAndre Lambert-Smith had 3 catches for 35 yards. The offense as a whole racked up over 450 yards and did some nice things. With the weight of the 2021 season on these guys shoulders it was a pleasant to see them doing well in the reps they saw.

3. Defense showed moments. Overall a pretty sour day for Penn State’s defense that was aided by a Nebraska WR, who dropped an easy TD pass. But they did hold Nebraska under 300 total yards and finally got a turnover by way of a tipped ball caught by LB Brandon Smith. It was the first turnover since the Indiana game. Also DE Jayson Oweh and LB Jesse Luketa played well combining for 18 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1 pass breakup and 1 QB hurry.

That’s really about it. Penn State yet again had chances to win the game, but turnovers, specifically the hideous interception and the scoop and score was too much for the Nittany Lions to overcome. It has been the plague that this Penn State team has yet to find a cure for.

Penn State Nittany Lions Head Into Uncharted, 0-3 Territory After 35-19 Loss to Maryland

The defense didn’t allow an offensive touchdown in the second half on Saturday. I bring this up first because I want to get any smidge of positivity out of the way. Because. Well. Penn State sucked on Saturday afternoon against Maryland.

In my fairly young career viewership of this Penn State program, I can think of no loss more miserable, more distasteful, and more disheartening than the one we all witnessed yesterday. Yes, yesterday was even worse than the 2015 Temple game.

Perhaps the reason for the disarray is twofold. It was obviously awful from preparation to execution, but what made matters worse is there seems to be no obvious remedy that is going to change anything soon. The problem at its core isn’t the level of talent, Penn State demolished Maryland 59-0 last year. The problem at its core isn’t coaching decisions, Penn State’s coaching staff won 11 games last year. The problem is a collection, an assortment of disastrous player attitudes, pregame preparations, in-game decisions, inability to “move on” from previous losses, and apparently distractions.

Let’s start with the player attitudes. When Penn State dropped to 0-2 their hopes of a CFP berth or even a B1G title appearance went out the window. There wasn’t anything tangible to play for–for a team that had national aspirations. We knew this could be a problem. But the good teams, no, the elite teams, coaches and players alike, find new things to be motivated by. The best teams don’t even need to be motivated because their discipline and the way they perfect their craft is what drives them. This coaching staff and players don’t display that right now. As a good friend would say, “they don’t have any dogs on this team”. It’s hard to disagree with him when gazing onto the field Saturday. The defense again came out without a chip on their solider and has now given up at least 30 points in the past four games spanning back to last year (which is a school record). The offensive line, which was supposed to be a stronghold for this team, is having their lunch money taken from them. So why is this happening? Can this group of blue chip-caliber players seriously find nothing to play for? I get it. It sucks you can’t win a Big Ten Championship. You lost to Ohio State, again. But play for the pride of the university. Play for the coaches you came to school for. Or, at the very least, play for the guys like Pat Freiermuth, who came back just to win something.

I now feel like a recording, but the pregame preparations continue to plague this program. Again, Penn State starts out slow in the first half. And now, instead of it just being an offensive problem, it appears to be a lethargic epidemic, spreading to the other side of the football. Infecting a Brent Pry group that we typically could count on. Sure they lost Micah Parsons, but is that really an excuse for the touted defensive line to be blown off the ball? Does Maryland catch you with a nice wrinkle to your man coverage on the first drive for a touchdown? Yes, fine, I will concede you one mistake. But how do you let them catch you in the same coverage on basically the same play again? To the same WR? Maryland doesn’t have the armada of five star athletes that Ohio State has, they had one 5 star WR on their team and preceded to gut you with him over and over again.

Everyone who said this weekend was going to be close cited the same trend as before; Penn State doesn’t play well after loses. After losing to Indiana they lost to Ohio State. Last year, after losing to Minnesota they lost to Ohio State. Previous years, after losing to Ohio State they lost to Michigan State. It’s always been a trend and it continues to be a trend. Why can’t the players move on? Why can’t the coaches move on? If a team is expected to go 1-0 each week, why does it seem like we are looking in the rearview mirror? Why can’t we move on and beat teams we are supposed to beat after losses?

Finally, this team is distracted according to wide receiver Jahan Dotson, who continues to be the only star shining bright on this otherwise black hole of a season. After the game, Dotson said this:

We are not as one right now. We’re not a unit right now. There are distractions that we shouldn’t be focused on right now. We’ve got to be focused on getting in the win column, nothing else. We’re not a good football team right now. We’ve gotta have everyone 100 percent bought in, and we’ve gotta work. Monday is a day off. We’ve gotta see every guy in the building. Literally from top to bottom, we’ve gotta see every guy in the building, just doing something to get better every single day. That’s where it’s gonna start. It’s gonna start tomorrow. We’ve gotta have everyone 100 percent bought in. We’re gonna see who really wants it. Who wants to be here, bought in. And if you don’t, there’s not time for that. We’re 0-3, it’s time to turn the season around, and we’ve got to do something different.

Pretty outspoken for one of the more quiet leaders on the team. They say the best teams are player-led, not coaches-led. Perhaps this is the beginning of that foundation, because if not, well…

Penn State’s 38-25 loss to Ohio State Is Becoming All Too FAMILIAR

After a Penn State timeout, the Nittany Lions down by 11 took the field for a crucial 3rd and Goal from their own ten yard line. Ohio State spreads out five wide–there is confusion–who is supposed to blitz? You? Me? Okay I’ll go. Touchdown. Ohio State. A wide-open TE Ruckert was Justin Fields’ easiest pitch and catch of the evening.

For those that know me, know I am optimist when it comes to Penn State football almost to a fault. Even though I took the Nittany Lions to lose on Saturday, I thought they could hang with the Buckeyes. And while the game wasn’t put to bed until the 4th Quarter, it took a heroic effort from Jahan Dotson (8 catches, 144 yds, 3 TDs) to even keep it close.

Even though the final was a 13-point victory for the Scarlet and Grey, it was evident that Ohio State was a better team. They dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball–it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the Penn State defensive line get manhandled upfront from the get-go. Then, there was QB Justin Fields (28-34, 318 yds, 4 TDs). The one-time Penn State commit, was the salt–no–hydrogen peroxide in the wound of “What if?” for head coach James Franklin & Co.

Flashback to when Fields was committed to Penn State and the Nittany Lions lost to the Buckeyes by a single point in 2017. What if they would have won that game? Would Fields have stayed committed? How many other 2019, 2020, and 2021 recruits that Franklin’s staff have missed out on would have reconsidered if Penn State finds away to win in 2018?

Instead, the Buckeyes rolled into an empty Beaver Stadium with a far superior roster led by a quarterback who failed to make more than one mistake–I think Joey Porter Jr.’s dropped interception was the only one I counted. If that was the only thing going against the Nittany Lions I think Penn State fans would OK. But as not to bury the lead too much, that wasn’t the only issue last night.

Instead we saw something that was all too familiar–a slow start coupled with lack of preparation and sprinkled with stale play calling.

It’s not that Penn State always starts slow, for example they jumped out to a quick lead against Michigan last year in the White Out, but it seems to be enough of a theme dating back to 2016. Surprisingly, it was the defense that came out on their heels, giving up a touchdown before I could even crack open a beer. The Penn State offense got a field goal in their second possession, but that was aided by a very questionable roughing the passer penalty on third down. All in all, Penn State managed just 5 first downs (none in the second quarter), 46 rushing yards (4 in the second quarter), and 29 passing yards (none in the second quarter) in the first half.

Then how about that weird sequence after a Penn State timeout, where they couldn’t get lined up properly, then they blitzed both linebackers only to set up an easy touchdown over the middle to make it 21-3. Critics of Franklin will point to that play specifically when discussing whether or not this program is regressing or progressing.

Finally, let’s talk about the play calling and man, was it a tale of two halves. Offensive coordinator, Kirk Ciarrocca wants to run the football to set up the pass. James Franklin, post game said they stressed the QB run in practice this week, which wasn’t a bad idea since Ohio State had given up over 100 rushing yards Nebraska’s QB. But how many times did Sean Clifford and Devyn Ford run into a pile of bodies for 1 yard? It was stale and I kept waiting for him to take a shot and he didn’t in the first half. Then in the second half they introduced some crossing routes and some isolation routes for Jahan Dotson and it changed the game on that side of the ball. But it was just too little too late especially when the defense couldn’t get off the field.

Penn State wasn’t supposed to go toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes on Saturday, but the way in which they continue to lose is becoming all too familiar.

Photo by Kami Brand

Sobering Start for Penn State

“Don’t put the game in the hands of the officials”–especially not in the hands of the Big Ten replay officials.

There are a lot of reasons for possibly why the first half was such a disaster for the Nittany Lions. Penn State is breaking in a new offensive coordinator in Kirk Ciarrocca with limited live reps due to COVID-19. The Nittany Lions lost their starting running back, Journey Brown, before the game even started due to an undisclosed medical concern and then lost their backup, Noah Cain, just a handful of plays into the game.

After barreling down the field in the open possession and finding a wide-open Pat Freiermuth in the end zone things seemed as they should for the Nittany Lions.

They wouldn’t be.

The remaining first half was one of the worst offensive and special teams performances I have seen in a long time by the Nittany Lions.

Penn State managed just 107 yards the rest of the first half, 66 of which came on a 12 play drive that ended with backup QB Will Levis fumbling it on Indiana’s 9 yard line. Penn State finished 3-6 in the red zone. But the woes didn’t stop with just a stalling offense, if that was the only issue I believe the Penn State defense would have been able to outlast the Hoosiers’ offense. Instead second year starter, Sean Clifford provided a couple gifts in the form of interceptions.

The first interception came on a screen pass he appeared to force, but I still don’t really understand how he threw it that poorly. The second came on a pass that was a foot over the outstretched arm of Pat Freiermuth–a difficult target to overthrow. It should be noted that the drive started on Penn State’s five yard line due to Lamont Wade bobbling the kickoff. The combined the two mistakes ended up costing Penn State 10 points.

Then to add salt in the wound, linebacker Ellis Brooks forced a fumble that was recovered by Lamont Wade with two ticks left on the clock. A chip shot field goal was then missed by Jake Pinegar who hit 92% of his field goals last season.

Things didn’t get that much better in the third quarter, and eventually the mistakes would add up in the fourth. Devyn Ford was allowed to score in order for Indiana to get the ball back down by only 8. Head Coach James Franklin said they talked about the situation on the sideline. The plan was to get as much as they could and get down. Then presumably kneel out the rest of the time remaining. Instead, the Hoosier offense, which hadn’t mustered very much against a stout defense, was aided by two penalties on their way to a TD and the 2 pt conversion.

Even then, Indiana failed to squib kick the ensuing kickoff and Penn State had the ball at Indiana’s 40 yard line with 8 seconds left with inches to go for a first down. They elected not to run another player to get their long distance specialist, Jordan Stout a smidge closer. A smidge is all he would have needed as his 57 yd attempt was inches short of the cross bar.

You know what happened after regulation. Whether you agree with the final call or not, the game was clearly not decided on that final play. Instead it was decided on countless other mistakes by both the coaches and players alike.

It’s a sobering start for a Penn State team that might have more talent than any previous team in Franklin’s tenure. It’s also a reminder that you cannot expect to beat opponents just because you are more talented than them. Mistakes, in this case, a lot of mistakes eventually add up.

Perhaps it’s an important lesson for a team that will need to commit fewer mistakes next week when they host the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Photo by Kami Brand.

Penn State Lands Two More Class of 2021 Commits

Photo by Kami Brand

The Nittany Lions are on a recruiting run as of late. You almost began to wonder if they were going to cool down for a little bit. Then, early-afternoon Wednesday, head coach James Franklin & company did it again. Then moments later, again.

Penn State lands one of the nation’s top kickers, in the 2021 class, Sander Sahaydak from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Kickers aren’t put through the same evaluation as most recruits, but he is still considered highly touted.

Moments later the Nittany Lions found their quarterback for the future when former Canadian, now Maryland native and four star quarterback, Christian Veilleux committed. He is a 247 Top 300 player and the 15th best pro-style QB in his class. He was also holding offers from numerous schools including Clemson.

With these two commits, Penn State’s 2021 class now sits at 10 verbal commits, which is 14th best in the country, currently 6th best in the Big Ten.

How Can Penn State Catch Ohio State?

Photo by Kami Brand

In the Big Ten it’s the Ohio State Buckeyes and then everyone else. That is the undeniable truth.

In the past four seasons, Ohio State is 49-6 and boasts a 33-3 conference record (16′ loss at Penn State, 17′ loss at Iowa, and 18′ loss at Purdue). To put it plainly, it has been utter dominance.

So how do the Nittany Lions rise to the same level? Well, it’s important to note that Penn State has played the Buckeyes as well as anyone in the past four years: both the 2017 and 2018 games were heartbreakers with a single point separating the Lions from the Buckeyes. Last year’s game wasn’t as close, but it was also probably Ohio State’s most talented team since 2014 and it was in Ohio Stadium.

As close as the Nittany Lions were to knocking off the Buckeyes, there are also no moral victories in College Football. The pair of losses in 2017 and 2018 were a figurative Ohio State stiff arm–keeping Penn State out of arm’s reach.

Let’s take a closer look:

Recruiting is the fuel to any college football program. Obviously every program has to be able to develop their players to be successful, something Michigan has struggled with. But the top-tier teams are able to consistently develop their four and five star recruits. So it doesn’t matter how well the Iowas and Wisconsins improve their three star players, they will never consistently keep up with the schools that are recruiting and developing their blue-chip recruits.

That is simply why Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten.


Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 3.53.54 PM

Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 3.20.08 PM

Look at the above data. Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten when it comes to recruiting. In 2019, the Nittany Lions did edge out the Buckeyes. The class has players who will look to make a major impact in 2020: Noah Cain, Brandon Smith, Adisa Isaac, John Dunmore, and Devyn Ford. But for the most part Ohio State has had their way when it comes to recruiting. Typical recruiting battles between the Buckeyes and Wolverines in Michigan and Ohio have been won by Ohio State. Furthermore the Buckeyes have stolen big time players from Pennsylvania like five star receiver Julian Fleming. To top it off, the Buckeyes have been recruiting on a national level rivaling the likes of Georgia and Alabama.

It’s no surprise that the strong 2018 and 2019 Penn State recruiting classes came after the Nittany Lions returned to greatness in 2016. However, the 2016 Big Ten Championship is long gone; high school recruits were only 11-14 years old when James Franklin raised that trophy. The Nittany Lions need to continue to defend why their product is better than Ohio State’s.

Because right now it isn’t.

On top of the recruiting imbalance, Ohio State continues to attract top-level transfers to their program. The most gut-wrenching one? Justin Fields transferring from Georgia to Columbus, who was at one time committed to Penn State. Just yesterday, Oklahoma running back and graduate transfer, Trey Sermon, announced he too will be transferring to Ohio State.

Penn State’s biggest addition via the transfer portal? A specialist. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions have lost big time players such as Juwan Johnson, Justin Shorter, and Ricky Slade. Perhaps Penn State fans won’t miss any of them, but the program still needs to find a way to entice a couple playmakers where their depth is shallow.

It’s hard to compete against Ohio State with the number of blue chip players on their roster. But it’s important to note that Penn State doesn’t need to beat the Buckeyes every time they play them to narrow the gap. But when they have the opportunities to win, they must capitalize. The single-point losses in 2017 and 2018 halted the momentum of the entire program not because they lost to Ohio State, but how and when they lost. Losing by one-point, twice, leaves a stinging resonance within the entire program. Even a split in those games would have helped close the distance between the programs. Instead, losing both those games, then losing the following week to Michigan State lagged the program’s growth and let Ohio State separate.

The loss in 2019 didn’t change the opinions of many, Penn State wasn’t supposed to beat one of the best teams in the country on their home-field. But now let’s fast forward to the 2020 season.

Penn State is returning a ton of experience, a stout defense, and a couple game-changers on both sides of the football. Let’s focus in on the last point because I believe that is what makes the difference between the elite and the great programs. Having team speed and disruptive linemen help you dominate the lesser opponents, but the game changing playmakers are the ones that swing the game in your favor against evenly matched teams. Think Saquon Barkley, Chris Godwin, KJ Hamler.

Penn State will still be looking for a few more game changers in their receiving corps, but they have promising prospects eager to prove themselves. All things considered, given how much Ohio State has to replace, this appears to be a season where Penn State can move one step closer to Ohio State.

And beating Ohio State every couple years along with capitalizing on other primetime matchups is the only way to narrow the gap and truly compete with the Buckeyes.

And if they don’t beat them in 2020 then they will just move further away.

Evaluating Penn State Players at the NFL Combine

This weekend five former Penn State Nittany Lions took part in the 2020 NFL Draft Combine to showcase their skills in front of NFL scouts, coaches, and general managers. Here is our evaluation for each of them.

KJ Hamler WR

Grade: B

The knock on KJ Hamler heading into Indy was always going to be his size. He didn’t necessarily help himself with his weigh-in under 180 pounds. That being said, the flashy receiver benched 15 reps at 225, which was impressive for any receiver. Hamler didn’t run his 40 this weekend though because of a tweaked hamstring. He claims he will run a Β sub-4.3. It’s safe to say his stock will highly depend on that time, more than it would for other receivers.

Yetur-Gross Matos DE

Grade: B-

Yetur-Gross Matos was never going to wow anyone away with his bench press showing. The defensive end’s length was a talking point though. Gross-Matos was measured with 82 2/8″ wingspan and almost 35″ arms. That length is something that cannot be coached or taught. Like Hamler, Gross-Matos didn’t run his 40.

Robert Windsor DL

Grade: A

Robert Windsor went into Indianapolis with very little to lose and it showed. Windsor put together an impressive combine and boosted his stock. He ran a sub 5.0 forty, which would bode well for any interior defensive linemen. Furthermore, his hustle and pass rush ability appears on his tape as well as his measurables. I am not sure where he is going to go but I can see him lasting in the NFL for a long time.

Cam Brown LB

Grade: C

This was an important weekend for Cam Brown and he didn’t put his best foot forward. The linebacker only managed 16 reps on the benchpress, which was only one better than his former teammate, KJ Hamler. That disappointing result is partially due to his length, but it still doesn’t look good for an undersized linebacker. Furthermore, his 40 time, 4.72 was not as fast as he would’ve liked it. He will look to improve his stock at Penn State’s pro day, where he will look to get that 40 time possibly under 4.70 at the very least.

John Reid

Grade: A

John Reid closed out the NFL Combine for the Nittany Lions with a strong performance. The former Nittany Lion defensive back was once a possible candidate to leave early for the NFL, but was held back with a couple injuries. One important aspect of the NFL Combine is the medical evaluations during the week, which plays a pivotal role for players like Reid. If he passed those tests without any red flags then this week was already a successful one for him. Furthermore, his hips were as fluid as any during the on-the-field drills. He capped off his performance with a sub-4.50 40, which was one of the question marks heading into the combine. Oh and it doesn’t hurt when Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders says you look smooth:

« Older Entries