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Mailbag: Blue-White Game, next commit

4/12/2013



Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in depth this week.

Corey Hunter (@realhuntdog23) writes: What REALISTIC expectations should fans have at the Blue-White Game? Isn't Bill O'Brien likely to keep things (plays/personnel) close to the vest?

Josh Moyer: Absolutely, Corey. O'Brien said he's added a lot to the playbook -- he seemed surprised when reporters asked if much has changed -- and I doubt O'Brien will throw much, if anything, new out there. His reasoning for increasing the playbook is because teams have had an entire year to study his film and catch on to what he's doing, so he has to change and adapt.

If he's trying to catch those teams off guard, then, it would really defy reason for him to try out his new stuff next weekend in front of a big crowd. He's very, VERY protective of what maybe two dozen reporters are allowed to watch. So I'm sure he'll be even more careful when it comes to a televised scrimmage.

You really have to take everything that happens at these scrimmages with a grain of salt. I remember in 2004 when fans and reporters alike focused on wideout Ryan Scott after a 101-yard breakout performance in that scrimmage and then watched as he finished the season with 13 total receiving yards. In 2007, Paul Cianciolo went 8-of-9 for 126 yards and two TDs -- but that obviously wasn't indicative of his talent. And, last year, Matt McGloin didn't look very impressive as he finished 6-of-13 with one TD and one interception -- certainly not reflective of the efficient season he ended up having.

In short, enjoy the day but don't put too much stock into the numbers. Check out Nyeem Wartman's closing speed, Steven Bench's accuracy and Allen Robinson's leaping ability. But if, say, Eugene Lewis ends up with 150 yards -- don't label him the next A-Rob just yet.

Adam Cooper writes in an email: With the lack of depth at linebacker, has anyone stepped up that we don't know about?

Josh Moyer: I've heard mixed things about Gary Wooten so far, just that he has to work on his assignments. Just kind of a result of inexperience right now. As far as the other players, guys you might not know, I've heard about two nonscholarship players sticking out: Matthew Baney, a sophomore out of State College (Pa.) High School, and Adam Cole, a redshirt freshman from Belle Vernon (Pa.) High School.

Glenn Carson mentioned Baney on Wednesday, and I think it was Mike Hull who talked about Cole two weeks ago. Ben Kline will likely be the No. 4 guy when he returns, probably with Wooten as his backup, but those two guys -- along with incoming freshman Brandon Bell -- could find themselves on the field this season. And O'Brien said he's probably not going to move anyone to linebacker, either, to help out with the depth.

Seth J. Sommer (@sethsommer) writes: Who will be the next commit?

Josh Moyer: I was asked this about six weeks ago, and I said DT Jeremiah Clarke. And, while I still think he eventually becomes a Nittany Lion, I'm going to have to amend that answer after some new scholarship offers went out.

Linebacker Jared Wangler, who grabbed an offer this week, is now my best guess when it comes to who's the next commit. PSU is, by far, his best option at this point. He only has five other offers from MAC schools, and he told me he doesn't want to drag out his recruitment. I straight-up asked him why he didn't just commit the same day as his offer -- it was clear he was pretty excited on the phone -- and he said he just wanted to finish off his planned visits.

At the least, he plans to see Notre Dame and Northwestern this weekend. He might hold off to see Indiana and Maryland, too, but I think a decision could come soon if his recruitment doesn't blow up now. Another guy on the commit watch list should probably also be quarterback Michael O'Connor, who estimated he'd probably decide in June. De'Andre Thompkins isn't a bad pick, either, since he'll be up with his father over Blue-White weekend -- but his recruitment is starting to blow up, and it's no longer a commitment I'm banking on. It looked a lot better for Penn State a month ago; the longer it takes for Thompkins to decide, the more it works against Penn State.