Monday, February 11, 2013
Run-ons overview: Defense/special teams
By Josh Moyer
Bill O'Brien is building a base for the future with PSU's run-on program.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Bill O'Brien has constantly emphasized the importance of his run-on program, and his hope is this will allow him to add needed depth during a time of sanctions and scholarship reductions.
Penn State's head coach said last week he was hoping to add about 20 walk-ons, and the count currently stands at 21. NittanyNation is aware of a handful of recruits that PSU is either still considering or who are just awaiting acceptance into the school.
But most of this run-on class is already in the books. Here's a list -- complete with film and notes -- of the players on defense and special teams who have committed as run-ons.
LB Carter Henderson, Murrysville (Pa.) Franklin Regional 6-foot, 213 pounds Highlights His stats are difficult to ignore. As a senior, he compiled 145 tackles -- including 86 solo stops, more than twice as many as Franklin Regional's No. 2-leading tackler. He also led his team with seven sacks, 20 tackles for loss and nine hurries. He received some FBS attention and is a nice pickup as a walk-on.
LB Brandon Smith, Lewisburg (Pa.) 6-foot-1, 215 pounds Highlights He grew up as a Penn State fan and, despite heavy interest from Penn and Princeton, he decided to settle on the Nittany Lions over the Ivy League. His faith and relationships with Ron Vanderlinden and Mac McWhorter were deciding factors in his choice.
LB Kyle Searfoss, Lewisberry (Pa.) Red Land 6-foot-2, 225 pounds Highlights He runs in the high-4.6s, and his goal is to become a special teams player as soon as possible. Eventually, he's hoping to become a starter -- and he's hoping his football instincts help get him there by his third year on campus.
DB/RB Brock Baranowski, Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland 5-foot-10, 185 pounds He was a senior captain this past year, but his season was cut short due to an ankle injury. His recruitment was hindered as a result. As a junior, he averaged 7.1 yards per carry and rushed for 1,079 yards. He's former teammates with Austin Whipple.
S Tom Pancoast, Kennett Square (Pa.) Unionville 6-foot-4, 190 pounds Highlights PSU actually would have taken him at quarterback, safety or both -- but Pancoast preferred safety because he felt he had a better chance at playing time. He also boasted offers from Colgate and Bucknell but, he said, "You can't compare the football that Penn State has to the I-AA level."
CB Dad Poquie, Wyndmoor (Pa.) La Salle College High 5-foot-10, 180 pounds Highlights Poquie was part of a defense that allowed less than 10 points in six games, and he was also a first-team selection in the Class AAAA Catholic League. He made Brian Bennett's Big Ten recruiting all-name team.
K Chris Gulla, Toms River (N.J.) North 6-foot-2, 195 pounds Highlights He had invitations to walk-on at South Carolina, Maryland and Rutgers but chose PSU. He has a lot of family in the Lehigh Valley and will report to campus on July 1. The kicking job is an open competition, and his goal is to beat out Sam Ficken in his first year. He can also punt, but his forte is as a placekicker. He'll challenge Ficken but probably not Alex Butterworth in the beginning.
LS Sean Corcoran, Kankakee (Ill.) Bishop McNamara 6-foot-2, 210 pounds Highlights Corcoran is a small lineman, so he likely won't be utilized outside of long-snapper -- but he's definitely a good one there. He was the first player to run-on, and he had multiple walk-on offers from other FBS schools such as Vanderbilt and Northwestern. About fifteen months ago, he was just hoping he'd be an equipment manager at a school like Penn State. Now? He was told he'll immediately compete for a starting job as the long-snapper.