January 9, 2010

2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Recap

For any Penn State fan looking to see the Nittany Lions' bright future displayed on the Alamo Dome turf today, you are probably still wondering when it will show up. That's not a slight so much on the players, but rather, the idea that we can ever really hope for something interesting to happen at these kinds of all-star games.
Silas Redd (above) and his fellow
Penn State recruits showed what they could
do in limited action Saturday during the
U.S. Army All-American Bowl
in San Antonio.

The five Penn State commitments played occasionally, if not sparingly. The defenders on both teams were hampered by the ridiculous no-blitzing rule (I get it, we don't want anyone hurt for a stupid all-star game. But seriously, it is football they're playing.) and another forcing the defenses to always play a 4-3 base, regardless of the situation. The offense was run mostly out of a Rich Rodriguez-type spread attack, as the East quarterbacks constantly took the zone reads (more on how that affected Paul Jones in just a minute) while the pass plays were something reminiscent of a 13-year-old douche on his XBox 360.

Of the dozens of players invited to the game, only a few were able to make any really impressive plays. Others were left out almost entirely. But that's what you get when these all-star games are promoted more as a live-commitment freak show than an actual football game.

How the future Lions performed...

Paul Jones, QB (Rivals/Scout/ESPN) - The East's offense wasn't quite designed to use Jones' talents the right way. While he can definitely move, Jones requires a good pass-blocking offensive line. The offensive lines in these games can never be expected to play well after only a week working together; but seriously, the East O-line was horrible. You couldn't count on one finger the amount of time Jones had to get his passes off. I will say that he looked a bit skittish, probably due to the lack of pass protection. The plays that were called for the East quarterbacks usually involved long-developing routes that were more than 10-15 yards down the field, if not farther. Both sides were chucking hail marys on pretty much every drive (see: Box reference earlier), which had a direct effect on any quarterback that couldn't stay on the field and get into any rhythm.

In 2010... I truly believe Jones will play this fall. Penn State will enter the season with virtually no experience at quarterback, and should Kevin Newsome go down, the Nittany Lions will need someone like Jones at least available to go in. Matt McGloin is a good backup, but lacks the same skill sets Jones and Newsome possess. Robert Bolden will be out of the mix because he won't enroll this spring; Bolden will most definitely redshirt this fall.

Silas Redd, RB (Rivals/Scout/ESPN) - Redd saw some action early, but it tapered off as the game went on. He did take a kickoff back for a decent return, but the blocking left much on the field. As I said with Jones, the offense didn't use Redd the way it seems he will be used in college.

In 2010... With Evan Royster, Stephfon Green, Brandon Beachum (depending on his ACL recovery), Curtis Dukes and Brent Carter all coming back next season, I highly doubt Redd will see the field. In fact, I feel it would be a massive blunder to burn Redd's redshirt in 2010. Royster and Carter will be gone after next season, which will allow Redd ample opportunities on the depth chart to get carries.

Zach Zwinak, FB (Rivals/Scout/ESPN) - ZZ (Tim's working on a nickname) played linebacker at in the game, so all the skills we will see were not on display. Still, he actually made a bigger impact on the game than any other Penn State recruit. Zwinak recovered two on-sides kicks (the first ruled an illegal procedure), with the second holding up and leading to an East score. He looked like a really hard worker on special teams, which any program loves to see.

In 2010... Zwinak could actually see time this fall on special teams. His attitude and work ethic is what Penn State looks for in freshmen. But once he moves up the depth chart, he will mostly play fullback. Penn State has really found a nice role for the fullback in the Spread HD offense, as we saw out of Joe Suhey in 2009.

Khairi Fortt, LB (Rivals/Scout/ESPN) - The first of Penn State's two linebackers on the field, Fortt was tough to gauge due to the defensive restrictions placed on both teams. He made a few stops and didn't make any glaring mistakes in pass coverage.

In 2010... Many will say Fortt might play in 2010. Don't count on it. Penn State is so incredibly loaded at this position, it wouldn't be prudent to waste a season riding the pine.

Mike Hull, LB (Rivals/Scout/ESPN) - Hull made the first tackle of the game, staying in for the East more than any other Penn State recruit. Like Fortt, Hull had trouble standing out (no other linebackers or defensive backs looked great either), but didn't give up anything really big.

In 2010... Hull is an interesting prospect, in that he's much more highly touted than any other player coming in this season. I would suspect him to fill a role similar to what Mike Mauti did his freshman year, on special teams and mop up duty.

...and another who will hopefully be a Lion soon enough...

Marcus Lattimore, RB (Rivals/Scout/ESPN) - Lattimore didn't get a ton of carries, but he played well and showed why he's the No. 2 running back in the nation this recruiting season.

In 2010... Let's just hope we see him in blue and white this fall.

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