Penn State Nittany Lions: DJ Crook

Notes on PSU's newest depth chart

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
12:30
PM ET
Penn State's depth chart was released on Monday and, much to no one's surprise, a starting quarterback was not named. An "OR" appears next to the names of Tyler Ferguson and Christian Hackenberg.

Still, there were a few notable changes on the depth chart and in the game notes:
  • Adam Gress was nursing an injury last week, and he was not listed as the definite starter at right tackle. He's still battling with TE-turned-OT Garry Gilliam. Bill O'Brien will likely update Gress' progress on Tuesday.
  • Von Walker, a run-on whom O'Brien complimented last week, is listed as competing for the No. 2 kickoff return spot with Akeel Lynch. Walker is an athlete whom PSU hopes to utilize as a slotback. This might be the biggest surprise on the depth chart. You can read more about Walker here.
  • D.J. Crook is listed as the third-string quarterback. He was competing with Austin Whipple and Jack Seymour for the No. 3 spot. He was listed as the third-stringer on the post-spring depth chart as well.
  • Bill Belton is still listed as the No. 2 tailback, ahead of Lynch ... but that likely doesn't mean much. Both will see carries.
  • There's an "OR" listed next to Malcolm Willis' name, signifying he's still competing with Ryan Keiser at safety. Willis is obviously expected to be the starter -- barring injury. O'Brien will undoubtedly be asked about that on Tuesday.
  • Middle linebacker Glenn Carson is still listed as the snapper at punter, despite picking up a run-on whose specialty is snapping and having Howle snapping on field goals.
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.

Brian Santoro (@santoro_brian) writes: In your opinion, does Christian Hackenberg start this year?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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.

Robert Passaro writes in an email: Everyone seems to be anointing Christian Hackenberg as the starter if not this year then next. What happens if Steven Bench really shows he can manage this offense this year and leads us to an 8-4 record or better?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Meet the run-ons: QB D.J. Crook 

March, 11, 2013
3/11/13
9:00
AM ET
Every weekday, as part of an ongoing series, NittanyNation will take a closer look at a Penn State walk-on.

Vitals: (PG) Quarterback D.J. Crook, Worcester (Mass.) Academy, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

NittanyNation mailbag: Breakout players 

February, 15, 2013
2/15/13
11:00
AM ET
Mike HullJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesLinebacker Mike Hull's strength and athleticism make him a great candidate to become a breakout star.


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

Adam Puzio (@Adam_Puzio) writes: Who do you think will be the biggest breakout players (the Robinson/Carter/Barnes/Amos) of 2013?

Josh Moyer: Well, you gave me four names -- so I'll give you four. Let's get the obvious out of the way first: Linebacker Mike Hull. He had the highest bench press on the team, better than the likes of 324-pound DT DaQuan Jones. He was also so quick that former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley once tried him out at safety. He's not the prototypical size of a linebacker, but he has pretty much everything else going for him. He was a big-play magnet last year, and he could be the next big thing at Linebacker U. In a secondary that's lacking depth, Hull's pass-coverage ability will be extremely important.

As far as the other three, I'm really high on OT Donovan Smith. You saw, early in the season, the impact his absence had on the line. When Adam Gress was in there instead of Smith, it was completely different. Smith has NFL potential, and I think this will be a big breakout year for him. I wouldn't at all be surprised if he made the All-Big Ten first team. The other two players I think are worth watching include wideout Eugene Lewis and defensive tackle Austin Johnson. Lewis, a high school quarterback, is an incredible athlete who just needed a season to learn routes and the playbook. He could slide into the No. 2 WR role this season. He's a playmaker.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Run-ons overview: Offense 

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
12:30
PM ET
Here's a list -- complete with film and notes -- on Penn State's offensive run-ons.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Week in review: NittanyNation

February, 3, 2013
2/03/13
10:00
AM ET
NittanyNation takes a look at this week’s Penn State football news and what you might have missed:
  • Curtis Cothran's coach talked about the kind of player PSU is getting and mentioned how Cothran could stop sprinting ball-carriers with just one arm.

(Read full post)

Tyler BoydAP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackTyler Boyd likely would have committed to PSU if there were no sanctions.

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

William Amesbury (@WAmesbury16) writes: Where do you think the 2013 recruiting class would be without the sanctions?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Lions spotlight: QB Tyler Ferguson 

January, 31, 2013
1/31/13
10:30
AM ET
Every weekday until signing day, NittanyNation will break down a commitment from Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Quarterback Tyler Ferguson, Bakersfield (Calif.) College of the Sequoias, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds.

Committed: Dec. 14, 2012.

ESPN.com grade: 77. Three-star prospect.

ESPN.com rankings: N/A

Picked Penn State over: Akron, Florida Atlantic and Houston.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Christian HackenbergCourtesy of Charles Thomas/Fork UnionWith size and arm ability, Christian Hackenberg will be groomed as Penn State's QB of the future.

Two months ago, Penn State had just one committed quarterback -- and that seemed like a pressing issue that might take a while to resolve. With just one QB officially on the roster in Steven Bench, depth was obviously a concern.

Well, it certainly isn't anymore. Bill O'Brien garnered commitments from five players who'll compete at quarterback. And he also convinced four other players -- who were the starting quarterbacks on their respective teams -- to play at other positions at Penn State.

NittanyNation takes a closer look at all these signal-callers:

QUARTERBACKS WHO WILL STAY QBs

Christian Hackenberg, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy
Stats: Passing -- 156-of-291; 2,144 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs. Rushing -- 89 carries, 436 yards, 3 TDs.
Status: Committed (scholarship)

Synopsis: He's the top-rated high school quarterback in the nation. He can make all the throws, has a great arm, and his potential is endless. He just needs to familiarize himself with the playbook and better learn to read defenses. Opposing coaches said he had difficulty picking up disguised coverages and blitzes. He's obviously Penn State's quarterback of the future.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Bill O'Brien knew he wanted to focus on Penn State's run-on program months before the sanctions even hit.

He spent winters in New England watching Danny Woodhead and Wes Welker -- two unheralded players out of high school -- and saw them improve and contribute more as the season wore on. Forget recruiting rankings. Forget the pack mentality. O'Brien thought he could find some diamonds in the rough as run-ons, relative unknowns who could help this team win.

When those sanctions did finally hit, leading to fewer scholarships, O'Brien knew the run-on program would be more important than ever. His staff hit the recruiting trail hard and followed every lead it could.

This staff's effort helped uncover prospects such as prep quarterback D.J. Crook, who emailed the staff without any expectation he'd get a response. And, with the help of recruits like Crook, O'Brien is hoping to ensure this program remains one of the country's best.

Click here to read the story

Q&A: Preferred walk-on QB DJ Crook 

December, 19, 2012
12/19/12
1:00
PM ET
Quarterback D.J. Crook (West Barnstable, Mass./Worcester Academy) announced his decision Tuesday to walk-on to Penn State, and NittanyNation recently spoke with him at length about his decision and goals for next season.

The postgraduate student will enroll early and said he'll likely be roommates with fellow walk-on quarterback Austin Whipple, whom he played against earlier this season. Crook applied to Penn State about two weeks ago and earned a preferred walk-on invitation one week ago.

On Monday, he was accepted into Penn State and then turned around and quickly accepted that walk-on invitation.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Penn State 2015 Class Debuts At No. 3
Craig Haubert discusses recent additions to the Nittany Lions' 2015 class and first-year coach James Franklin's success on the recruiting trail.Tags: Adam McLean, Ryan Bates, Penn State Nittany Lions, James Franklin
VIDEO PLAYLIST video