Tuesday, May 30, 2006

NCAA Free Agency

A new NCAA rule is about to take effect that could potentially rock college sports. Proposal 2005-54, if allowed to take effect, would allow any college athlete that has earned a degree and has a year of eligibility left (redshirts) to transfer to any other school to play out their final year of eligibility without having to sit out a year like transfers have had to do in the past. So basically, a fifth year senior can transfer to the school of their choice for their final year and play right away.

The NCAA is trying to say this will benefit the student athlete by allowing them to start graduate school right away without having to delay a year and take unnecessary courses. College coaches, at least those that have even read the rule, are rightfully upset with this new legislation.
This rule would be a disaster for college sports. Imagine your a school from one of the smaller conferences and you've been grooming your star player for four years. You've paid for his education and his room and board. You have organized your recruiting the past four years counting on him being your starter going into next season. Then a big time program comes in and scoops him up to give their freshman recruit another year to develop. Or worse yet, imagine a conference rival plucking talent from your team. Imagine the Michigans and Ohio States raiding the Illinois and Indiana's, taking their best players, their team leaders, and wisking them away with promises of playing in a bowl game their senior year. Compared with playing out another losing year with no bowl game and nothing to play for the temptation may be too much to resist.

The NCAA needs to kill this rule fast. College coaches and presidents are pushing to override the rule. Hopefully they will be successful.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stupar Joins Lions

On the heels of picking up Josh Marks last week, Penn State quickly landed their third verbal last night. Nathan Stupar from State College High School (PA) committed to the Nittany Lions passing on offers from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Boston College, Stanford, Rutgers and Pitt.

Nate is 6'2", weighs 220 lbs, and runs a 4.61 40-yard dash. He is projected to play either LB or TE for the Lions.

In 2005 Stupar won First Team AAAA All-State honors at TE. During his junior year he had 44 catches for 644 yards on offense and recorded 56 tackles, 10 sacks, and an INT on defense.

Stupar drew attention to himself last season during State High's game with Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt High School. Many scouts were in attendance that night, including PSU, to get a look at top RB prospect LeSean McCoy (featured in picture). But by all accounts the night belonged to Stupar who dominated on both sides of the ball.

Stupar has the genes of a football player. His dad played DE for Penn State in the 1970's. His brother currently plays TE for Virginia. His uncle, Jeff Hostetler, played QB for PSU before transferring to West Virginia. He later went on to lead the New York Giants to a Superbowl victory over the Buffalo Bills in Superbowl XXV.

Welcome to the good guys, Nate.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Second Verbal

Penn State landed their second verbal commitment this weekend. Josh Marks of Southern Columbia High School in Catawissa, PA has committed to playing his college career in Happy Valley passing on offers from Pitt, Temple, West Virginia, and Rutgers. The 6'5" 300 pounder is projected to play guard in the Nittany Lion offense. Scout.com rates him a four star prospect.

Southern Columbia head coach Jim Roth says, "(Josh) is very strong. He'll do 25 reps of 225 lbs. He's at 300 lbs. right now, but he moves well."

Josh joins Chris Colasanti as the first members of the recruiting class of 2007. Welcome to the family, guys.

Friday, May 19, 2006

JoePa Joke

Joe Paterno is visiting his buddy Bobby Bowden down in the Tallahassee. Bobby takes Joe out water skiing in his new ski boat.

So Joe is water skiing behing Bobby's boat when they hit some waves and Joe falls. Paterno starts splashing around and yelling, "Come get me! I can't swim!"

Bobby circles around and pulls the boat up beside Joe. "If I pull you out of there, you have to promise not to tell anyone in Florida that I saved your life."

Joe responds, "Deal. As long as you promise not to tell the people back in Happy Valley I can't walk on water."

Sharing the Spotlight

Ok it's mid May now. The Blue-White game was played weeks ago. We're still over three months away from the start of the season. Yet news about Penn State Nittany Lion Football continues to trickle in.

Joe Paterno was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame this week. It's a proud day for the Penn State nation. I won't bore you with all the details of Joe's career. You all know his record. He's well deserving of the honor and I'm glad the committee changed the rules to allow him early entry. But there is a small twist to the story.

Also elected to the Hall this week was Florida State Seminole coach Bobby Bowden. The Hall trumped this up as a great occasion inducting these two great coaches into the Hall together. Personally, I think it stinks. Nate Bauer is so mad he wants to punt kittens. It's a shame these two guys get lumped together in the same sentence all the time. Seems like Joe never gets the spotlight to himself anymore without having to share it with Blobby.

Of course both coaches are saying all the right things. They are both telling the cameras how much they love being inducted into the Hall with their "good friend". I don't buy it for a second. I think they both open the paper on Sunday morning after the game and after reading the writeup of their own team they check the scores to see how "the other guy" did. I think they both plan on coaching until they die and secretly hope the other guy dies first so they can secure a record that is sure to never be broken again.

I have to admit they put on a good show for the media, but I think they are both ticked they have to share their day in the sun. I'm ticked as well. I think they both deserve to be there, but they also both deserve their own day in the sun without having to share.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Penn State's First Verbal

This weekend while Penn State fans were weeping watching their favorite players go off to play in the NFL, the school quietly scored its first verbal commitment for the 2007 recruiting class.

Chris Colasanti from Bloomfield, Michigan has chosen Penn State as the school he wants to play for. He's somewhat of an unknown by Rivals and Scout.com, who only rates him a one star player. But Colasanti turned down offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Ohio State, UCLA, and Stanford to come play for Paterno and coach Bradley. The fact that all of these big time schools thought highly enough of this kid to offer him a scholarship makes me think he's quite a prospect. Another great sign is how the Nittany Lions are able to go into the heart of Wolverine territory and pluck a player out of their back yard. Michigan and Ohio State have been doing this to us for years. Now we're flipping the tables. It must be a little unsettling to other Big Ten schools to see us having success on a national scale.

But enough about my opinion. I'm too cheap to buy the full subscription to Rivals and Scout.com so what do I know? (Although I do have an ESPN insider subscription which grades him a 79). What do his high school coaches think about him?

Brother Rice Assistant Coach David Sofran says: "A throw-back type football player. Hard-nosed, tough and definitely fits the bill on what you want an inside linebacker to look like. Could be one of the best linebacker prospects in the history of Brother Rice."

How does Chris describe his playing style? "I'm a hard hitter. My speed is alright but I want to get quicker for sure. I'm a student of the game. I watch film of my opponent now. I'm an intelligent linebacker and I'm a leader."

Sounds like he will fit in quite well at Linebacker U.

NFL Draft Review

In 2005 not a single Penn State player was taken in the NFL Draft. This year Penn State restored themselves as a perennial football player farm by having six players taken in the NFL Draft Here's a rundown of the weekend action:

Tamba Hali - DE - First Round (20/20) - Kansas City Chiefs

On Sunday morning Chris Berman called Hali the best story of the draft. After everything Tamba has gone through in his youth to becoming a first round pick, you can't help but feel good for this kid. Hali should be able to step in right away and contribute to a defense that was weak against the run and pass last year.

Michael Robinson - RB - Fourth Round (3/100) - San Francsco 49'ers

The 49'er's picked M-Rob as a RB, but they also need help at WR. I can see them utilizing Robinson at the wideout position much like the Rams used to use Marshal Faulk. This team is so desperately in need of offensive help, as evident in their drafting of a TE and two other WR's, that Robinson should be able to work his way on the field somewhere.

Alan Zemitis - CB - Fourth Round (25/122) - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Questions about Alan's size and speed caused him to drop to the fourth round. Scouts question his ability to play man-to-man. Tampa Bay has a well established secondary, but they are getting old. This may be a perfect fit for Zemitis to learn for a few years and compete for the starting job down the road.

Calvin Lowry - S - Fourth Round (5/102) - Tennessee Titans

Calvin joins a defense in need of help. They did poorly against the run and pass last year. He's a sure tackler, but the scouts question his size and ability to read the offense. Mel Kiper says he was underratted. I don't know if that's good or bad coming from Mel. Realistically, Lowry will probably make a good backup or special teams player.

Tyler Reed - OG - Sixth Round (31/200) - Chicago Bears

I think everyone considers this one a shocker. If Chicago really wanted Reed they probably could have picked him up as a free agent since nobody really seemed to show any interest in him. As a pure football talent he is probably good enough to at least have a decent career as a backup. No doubt off the field issues and inconsistent play affected his draft position.

Ethan Kilmer - DB/WR - Seventh Round (1/209) - Cincinnati Bengals

While nobody likes to see their team have to punt, Kilmer made it exciting last year every time he ran down the field. Every Penn State fan was hoping this kid would get drafted but secretly probably thought it wasn't going to happen. But he managed to slip in right at the end and land on the Bengals. His speed, athletic ability, and sheer guts should land him a spot on special teams. He has potential to be the Steve Tasker of the 21st Century.

Honorable Mention: I was surprised there were no takers on Anwar Phillips. Most projections I saw had him going in the middle of day two. I'm sure he will land somewhere as a free agent. He has the talent to have a decent career as at least a backup or nickel back. Scott Paxson was also passed on, most likely due to his troubles off the field. In the right system with an already established defensive line Paxson could make a decent contribution. Mathew Rice, Chris Harrell, and Andrew Richardson also have a decent shot of making NFL rosters.