Bill O'Brien talks spring, position switches

Earlier today, I had a Q&A with new Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien where he talked about spring practice. O'Brien met with the media this afternoon and gave out some new information on the Nittany Lions spring, including the news that wide receiver Curtis Drake is moving to cornerback.

Drake played a big role in the win over Ohio State late in the season as a Wildcat quarterback, but he did not make the trip to the team's bowl after getting into a locker-room altercation with quarterback Matt McGloin. O'Brien said Drake had a "clean slate" as far as discipline and that he was needed to bolster the numbers in a secondary where all four starters graduated.

"What I saw with Curtis on the football field was good size, good feet, good hips, instinctiveness, and I think that he's a guy that can contribute over there," O'Brien said. "He's got to keep up his end of the bargain by doing well in school and keeping his nose clean, and then we'll give him a shot to play over there this spring."

Some other notes from O'Brien:

  • He reiterated again that there is no starter at the quarterback spot right now and that he might not name a starter until the night before the season opener against Ohio.

  • Linebacker Michael Mauti (ACL) won't participate in contact drills this spring, but O'Brien said Mauti "has had a heck of a winter just in the things that he has been able to do. He's definitely obviously one of the core players on this football team, just both from his leadership and from his work ethic, his family."

  • Running back Curtis Dukes will sit out the spring to concentrate on academics. That will leave Derek Day as the backup to Silas Redd. Incoming freshman Akeel Lynch will be given a long look this summer at tailback as well.

  • O'Brien said he didn't watch much film of Penn State last season and when he did, he mostly watched the defense. He said he wanted all the players to have a clean slate and preferred to focus his time on academics, recruiting and conditioning aspects of the program. He'll get his hands-on work done this spring. "The spring is about, in many ways, just like mini-camps in the National Football League," he said. "The spring is about experimentation, maybe practicing a guy at one spot for about five practices and then moving him to another spot and seeing how he does in different areas and trying to get your best players on the field."