The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

March 27, 2013

Linebacker corps gets new look at Penn State

STATE COLLEGE — From tackling drills to side-to-side lunges in warmups, Glenn Carson seemed to have a shadow whenever he was on the practice field Wednesday with the way Mike Hull followed him around.

Hull was never more than a couple steps behind Penn State’s veteran middle linebacker.

The top reserve at linebacker last year is gearing up this spring for a first-string assignment on the outside with Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges off to pursue their NFL dreams.

“The thing I’ve taken from them is the way they played the game,” Hull said before practice Wednesday. “They’re intense. They did have great leadership qualities.

“That’s how it is at Linebacker U. Whenever it’s your time to step up, it’s ‘go time,’ your time to shine. I’m ready to fill that role on the defense.”

Without question, Penn State loses productivity and leadership with leading tacklers Hodges (109) and Mauti (95) done with their blue-and-white careers.

Carson, though, is back. Overshadowed by playmakers Hodges and Mauti, Carson had 85 tackles last season, and provides savvy and experience after two seasons starting in the middle. He’s made the play calls and called the check-downs. Now, he knows he’ll have to assume more of a leadership role at linebacker, and for the defense overall.

“I know a lot of the defensive schemes, so that role really hasn’t changed for me,” Carson said. “Maybe a little bit more of an off-the-field role that Mauti, (fullback Michael) Zordich and (quarterback Matt) McGloin might have taken care of. I might have a little bit more of that on my shoulders.”

That, and getting used to two new starters on either side of him. After showing potential on special teams last year as a freshman before getting hurt, Nyeem Wartman has one of the outside spots on the first team this spring.

Hull has the other spot, though he has a bit more experience after getting extensive playing time as a reserve, and on special teams. He started last season’s finale – the emotional 24-21 win over Wisconsin – with Mauti out with a knee injury.

Spring practice is about studying film to learn where mistakes were made the previous season, and showing improvement on the field in the early audition to secure roles for the fall.

“Do whatever you have to do – write it down– whatever you have to do to stop making the same mistakes over and over again,” Carson said.

Hull and Wartman have a “very good sense of what they’re doing,” he added. “I have confidence that those guys are going do that, that it’s going to be a smooth transition.”

The trio of Hull, Carson, Wartman is almost a combination by default given the slim numbers returning for Penn State at the position. The only other scholarship player with decent experience, Ben Kline, is limited this spring after offseason shoulder surgery. He ran through the paces of a tackling drill Wednesday but didn’t hit the pads.

At least there’s added comfort level this spring with the defensive schemes. Even with the departure of defensive coordinator Ted Roof to Georgia Tech following just one season, Hull and Carson said Wednesday the schemes haven’t changed much under new coordinator John Butler.

That should make it easier for Hull to slide right into a high-profile role in Happy Valley. As a sophomore in 2012, Hull was sixth on the team with 58 tackles, including four sacks. He also recovered two fumbles – returning one 74 yards for a touchdown against Navy – and blocked a kick.

Hull is already known on the team for his strong work ethic and offseason conditioning. He routinely tops the weight room chart for bench repetitions.

“After playing a lot last year, I realized my role was going to increase,” Hull said. “I’ve been in the film room a lot, getting ready in offseason workouts, ready to step up to be a leader off the field and on the defense.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Hawks already building toward next season

    Jason Spence used up his cell phone’s battery on a trip from Johnstown to his parents’ home in Nova Scotia, Canada.
    Once the Johnstown Tomahawks coach got to his destination, Spence had to get creative to secure cell service across the border.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pitt ends its spring practices

    No tailgating.
    No trip to a local high school.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pirates Game 1 0415 Pirates edge out Reds in suspended game

    After all those home runs and an overnight delay, it was settled by a single.
    Andrew McCutchen doubled and came around on Russell Martin’s single in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates an 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the completion of a game that spanned two days and 10 home runs.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • track_B1 WestPAC relays go to Windber boys, Berlin girls

    Rain showers and dropping temperatures put a damper on Monday’s WestPAC Relays at Berlin Brothersvalley High School.
    For the Berlin girls and the boys from Windber, however, discomfort was not much of a factor.
    The Mountaineers won their third straight relay title while the Ramblers reclaimed the title from defending champ Shade.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos