“Coach, there’s a rumor floating around today that Curtis Drake has been kicked off the team. Do you have a comment on that?” “No.” That was how my conversation with Penn State head Bill O’Brien began. I use the word “conversation” because “press conference” would be a gross overstatement. In a room with essentially Jared Slalina of BlackShoeDiaries.com, myself and Coach O’Brien, we discussed Curtis Drake (briefly), Bill Belton and yes, the quarterbacks, among other topics.
I reminded O’Brien that he had recently said he thought he knew who was leading the quarterback competition. Shortly following that, QB coach Charlie Fisher mentioned that he felt Matt McGloin was the leader and yesterday, news came out that O’Brien would be naming the quarterback by the end of the month. I asked if it was fair to connect the dots and come to the conclusion that McGloin would be named the starter. “I’ll probably release a depth chart around the end of the month, beginning of June.” O’Brien noted that the day after the Blue-White game, the entire staff headed out to recruit. “We haven’t had a staff meeting to assess Spring practice yet.” He went on to say that “when they get back in, the end of next week, we’ll have a few days of staff meetings, where we talk about recruiting, we evaluate Spring, what can we do better, what did we do well, what’s our depth chart, who are our top 60 players going into training camp…” He added that he has “nine guys on the staff” and he “wants to know what they think, too.” Finally, he said “That’s really the reason why you haven’t had a total depth chart, at this point. I’m not trying to hide anything but before I announce anything, I want to discuss it with the staff and you’ll get something after that.”
On players who maybe surprised O’Brien this Spring with their play, O’Brien noted the players who had changed positions, including Belton, Nate Cadogan and Dakota Royer. Not Curtis Drake, though. “Watching Billy Belton go from receiver in winter conditioning and knowing he had a running back’s skill set, that was a good move.” He added that Belton needs to “work on his ball security but he’s a really good kid and I think he can help us.”
He noted that Royer “has a better chance to see playing time as an ‘F’ tight end than he does at linebacker.’ He added that Royer has been identified as a “core special teams guy” and “should be involved in the big four: punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return.”
O’Brien, when asked about captains, said that he will name captains for each game. “I want to make sure that every senior is a captain in my first year here.” He added “I really like our senior class. There’s some really good kids there and I want to make sure that those guys that have stayed committed to the program, through some tough times, before I got here. I think it’s important to reward those guys-whether they’re practice players or starters- that they’re able to walk out there for the coin toss.” He said that he will name permanent captains before the Wisconsin game.
Keep an eye out today for more from the “press conference” and the Coaches Caravan stop in Cleveland including high praise for Jordan Hill and whether O’Brien may indeed tweak the uniforms…
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