NITTANY NOTES: Early Enrollees

Gerald Hodges

Get another exclusive update on the Class of 2009 members who arrived on the Penn State campus in January.

Two weeks ago, we posted our Early Enrollee Impression Report, providing the initial impressions several observers have had on Nittany Lion newcomers Kevin Newsome (QB), Ty Howle (OL), Gerald Hodges (DB) and Anthony Fera (K). Now, after added time with John Thomas and the conditioning program, these four are starting to see some progress as the staff identifies what they need to focus on during the remainder of the winter workout period.

Here's an early progress report on the four players:

Gerald Hodges: "He's a tank," one observer said. "He's just shredded," according to another observer. "Physically he easily passes the looks test," yet another commented. The consensus among program observers is that Hodges' physical build and strength are impressive.

Hodges has had some early issues with his runs and the "treadmill" test, but at least one observer discounted the issue, saying, "It tests endurance, but most guys need time to get their endurance up." The treadmill test can vary by position group, but basically it's a 12-minute continual run that has the machine increase it's speed in 1 mph increments.

"For example, they'll start it out at 6.5 mph for two minutes and then it goes to 7.5 for another two and so on," an observer said.

Overall, Hodges has been impressive in his basic weight room workouts. "He's got good power and has a pretty good base, top to bottom," an obervers said. "A lot of guys may be impressive with their upper body or legs, but he's pretty well-rounded. I think he's opened a lot of eyes."

Anthony Fera: Fera has a "big, big leg," as one observer explained. "But when he first started kicking they were just line drives. I think the first time he was working kicks he hit maybe one 35-yarder and missed a ton."

Fera has made some significant strides already, though. "He's improved a lot in a short time,"an observer said. "He's probably just not used to the timing on live kicks. He's been hitting 45- to 47-yard field goals. He can boot like 55 to 65 yards off the tee, he just needs to get his technique and control down. He could be great immediately on kickoffs, though."

Kevin Newsome: The consensus on Newsome is that he is built well, but needs to work on his conditioning and endurance. "He was nailed for bending over after a run set — J.T. (Thomas) hates when guys bend over to catch their breath. When he sees that he'll make them do it all over again."

Out of the gate Newsome has had to lean on some teammates (as opposed bending over) to avoid the re-run penalty. "He's OK though," an observer said. "They run them tough. He'll get better because he'll be running a lot this winter."

Newsome is said to have good strength and a solid frame to work with for his weight conditioning. "The staff is likely going to have him focus on bulking up his upper-body strength to help him take some hits on runs and make him harder to take down," an observer said.

Ty Howle: Although he checks in at about 6-foot-1, 295 pounds, some observers feel Howle will have to "tighten up his frame" and "increase his build" to make an early impact on the line.

As one observer said, "He can put up some weight. He has the frame to get more muscle to get better control of his body." Observers like the endurance he's shown on runs early on.

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