Penn State football notebook: Coaches lavish praise on Hull
Bill O'Brien said at the conclusion of spring practice that he is confident Penn State has a “really good core of tough football players.”
The second-year coach left no doubt that he considers outside linebacker Mike Hull one of those players.
“Mike's one of the best football players on our team,” O'Brien said of the Canon-McMillan graduate. “He's a tough guy, he's a smart guy, he's a Pittsburgh guy. We can't say enough about Mike Hull.”
The redshirt junior is Penn State's most complete linebacker, and Hull played sparingly in the Blue-White game last Saturday because the coaches know what they have in him.
Hull is stout against the run, is a good blitzer and is athletic enough to play the pass.
Penn State has depth concerns at linebacker, but there are no worries about Hull and fellow starters Glenn Carson and Nyeem Wartman.
“If we have a ton of Mike Hulls, Penn State football is going to be really good,” defensive coordinator John Butler said.
Hull, who also is a special-teams standout, understands that his responsibilities as a veteran go beyond making plays on the field.
“I definitely consider myself a leader on this team,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges facing O'Brien is figuring out how he will handle the quarterback competition when preseason practice starts.
Sophomores Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson competed for the starting job this spring. Christian Hackenberg enters the fray in August, and O'Brien said the five-star recruit will be given a chance to win the starting job.
“It's very difficult to get three quarterbacks reps during training camp, so we'll have to evaluate that over the next couple of months here,” O'Brien said. “How we're going to do that, if we're going to do that.”
Staying the course
Penn State limited contact this spring and that practice apparently will continue in the fall since staying healthy is paramount due to scholarship restrictions that are a result of NCAA sanctions.
“Guys get hurt when you go to the ground,” Butler said. “Not just the tackling part of it but the blocking part of it, the going after balls, the leaving your feet to make plays.”
Butler said that when he coached under Steve Spurrier at South Carolina in 2011, the team didn't tackle on designated days, a practice that is fairly common in college football.
“We're going to practice like they've practiced in the NFL for the last 10 years,” Butler aid, “because we've got good players and can do it that way.”
Wide receiver Allen Robinson said Adrian Amos should provide the impact that Penn State is hoping the junior makes at safety this fall.
Amos has been moved to the back end of the defense and the junior will stay there unless injuries necessitate his return to cornerback.
“He has a lot of range back there, a fast guy,” said Robinson, who regularly competes against Amos in practice. “He's going to come down and make plays.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ ScottBrown_Trib.