Seeing your players leave early to enter the NFL Draft is not the worst problem to have if you're a college football coach. It means you've got pretty good players.
But like most things in life, it's a phenomenon best experienced in moderation. The last thing Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson needed after watching defensive ends Aaron Maybin and Maurice Evans leave Penn State following the 2008 season would have been to see tackle Jared Odrick follow them out the door. And yet it could have happened.
I thought about it at first, Odrick said. But after evaluating what Coach J. had heard, just the buzz and also getting the [draft] evaluation, it didn't really become that hard of a decision in the end. It was definitely enticing to know you had the opportunity to do it. But I didn't want to go at the time. I wanted to try to better my situation.
A 6-foot-5, 306 pound senior, Odrick will be starting for the second consecutive season at defensive tackle. He started 11 games as a junior and did a fine job for the Nittany Lions. Nearly a quarter of his 41 tackles (9.5) were for losses, and his 4.5 sacks and ranked second on the team even though he was playing an inside position.
Odrick said his goal for this season is to be an even more disruptive force on the line.
My whole goal this year is to be more violent, and use my hands more and be more aggressive, and not save anything for the next pay, because I know I'm going to be out there for the next play, he said. I wouldn't say destroy the guy in front of me
but to actually take control of the opposition in any way possible, whether it's by using my speed and hands or getting up in their chest.
Odrick made news off the field when he was cited for disorderly conduct following an alleged scuffle with three Penn State students Feb. 28. Odrick called Joe Paterno the next day to explain what had happened, and Paterno seemed satisfied at the start of spring practice that the matter was resolved. It certainly is as far as Odrick is concerned. Said the Lebanon, Pa., native, The situation is dealt with. It's behind me.
Odrick is focused on helping the defensive line rebuild after losing Josh Gaines to graduation and Maybin and Evans to the draft. He praised the team's young ends, Jack Crawford, Kevion Latham and Pete Massaro, and said the line is coming together this spring.
A lot of the time, the young outside guys will feed off the older inside guys, he said. We know the pace Coach J. wants and know how to handle certain situations. I just think the ends really feed off of the inside guys' play, and I think it will definitely pay off.