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Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Q&A: Coach on PSU pledge Vincent Jr.

By Josh Moyer

What is Penn State getting in four-star athlete Troy Vincent Jr., the 12th commit of the 2014 class?

NittanyNation decided to ask one of the people who knows most what he's capable of -- his assistant coach at Baltimore (Md.) Gilman, Henry Russell. The coach talked at length about Vincent Jr.'s athleticism, what makes him stand out and how important he's been to the team.

NittanyNation: What qualities does Troy have that makes him a special player, the kind of prospect who garnered so many offers?

Henry Russell: He's very technically sound, he's got unbelievable footwork, and he's got really good ball skills -- I think those are his best attributes. He can do a bunch of things -- bump-and-run coverage, cover-2, man-to-man -- and he's very smart. He understands the game and understands what the offense is trying to do.

I think all those things combined has led him to become a pretty good high school player. I think Penn State and a lot of schools in the country have seen those skills, which is why so many have been recruiting him hard.

NN: You coach arguably the top team in the state, so I imagine your defense can't be very simplistic. How quickly was Troy able to catch on, and what is he expected to do there?

HR: We do a lot of on-the-field adjustments where we put a lot of calls into the kids' hands based on what they're seeing from the offense pre-snap. And Troy does a great job of recognizing things and helping get the call out to the secondary. Last year he did a great job with that -- and he actually transferred last year, too. He was at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, [Md.].

Normally, it's a safety who makes those calls. But Troy was really effective taking a leadership role, and I think we're only going to see more of that as a senior. That's the main aspect of the game he understands. He knows what to look for in game situations and can properly adjust.

NN: So last year was his first season with you guys, you run a complex defense -- and he was the guy making the secondary calls? How does that happen?

HR: Yeah, that's kind of a testament to how hard he works. That's just the type of kid he is. I was kind of surprised myself at how quickly he was able to do things like that. We needed someone to step up. We lost our two corners -- one is playing at Alabama and the other kid is playing at Monmouth -- and we needed to replace those two. And Troy did an outstanding job at earning a spot and having a great year.

NN: How quickly did you realize you had the kind of player Troy's turned out to be?

HR: We knew he was a good player coming out of Georgetown Prep, but I don't think any of us really knew just how good he was. And I think when he first came to us over the summer, it was a different environment, different setting, and he had to feel his way through some things at first.

But once he got into some 7-on-7 stuff and just how physical he is and with his footwork -- it was just very impressive for a kid that had never been in our defense. I think by the end of the summer, we knew he was going to be a pretty good player.

NN: What kind of person is Troy? Is he a vocal leader, a lead-by-example type guy or what?

HR: Troy, he's a quiet kid. Quiet and humble. He's one of the leaders we have in our Bible study weekly, and he's just a good all-around kid. He's hard-working.

NN: Can you give me an example or two? What's your favorite memory of Troy?

HR: Just the things that stick out is how polite of a kid he is. He sent me a text over break and just said, 'Thanks, Coach, for everything you do for me and my teammates.' And that kinda caught me off-guard. That was inspiring, and that's the type of kid he is.

I think he'll be a great teammate. He's a positive kid, he comes from a positive family, and he's a huge pickup for Penn State. To get a player and high-character kid like Troy, it's a great thing for Penn State -- and for Gilman.