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Penn State Football: Wildcat Threat and WR Bill Belton Moving to Running Back as O'Brien Readies for Spring Practice

by on March 14, 2012 4:25 PM

Most of the talk up to this point has been about off-field change with first-year coach Bill O’Brien.

Staff shakeups, giving the strength and conditioning program a facelift, and so on.

But change is coming on the field, too. O’Brien said at least five players have switched positions, most notably wildcat quarterback/wide receiver Bill Belton, who is moving to running back.

Other notable switches are Nate Cadogan moving back to offensive line from tight end and Anthony Alosi moving from defensive tackle to offensive tackle. Last week, O’Brien said linebacker Dakota Royer moved to tight end. J.R. Refice also will move from defensive tackle to fullback.

They all debut in their new roles March 26, the first day of spring practice.

Only 12 more days . . .

“[I] feel really good about where we’re at  right now,” O’Brien said Wednesday afternoon outside Holuba Hall, where Penn State’s Pro Day was taking place. “Do feel like we have a long way to go. We’re really excited about starting spring practice. Our kids are excited about it. Our coaches are. We’re tired of being in that office. We’re ready to get out on the field and coach some football.”

And then the staff has to make decisions. O’Brien said every position is an open competition. Some seem like no-brainers. Silas Redd at running back, Jordan Hill at defensive tackle.

Quarterback?

Unless another O’Brien decides to throw his name into the hat, it appears like a three-horse race now that redshirt sophomore Paul Jones is academically eligible.

“As of right now he is,” O’Brien said. “As of today, as we stand here today.” Jones, a highly regarded prospect from Pittsburgh, has not taken a snap mainly because of academic reasons.

Fifth-year senior Matt McGloin, who arrived at Pro Day as a visitor in flip flips, shorts, a white T-shirt and with a sandwich, and junior Rob Bolden, who was not spotted outside Holuba Hall, are also in the mix.

“A lot of my opinions will be formed in the spring,” O’Brien said. “We’ll do the best we can to divide the reps among the three top guys . . . “They’re competitive. They’re working very hard. They’re smart guys. They wanna be coached, they wanna be good and I’ve really enjoyed being around them.

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“We’ll see how it goes in the spring.”

O’Brien pleased with recruiting

O’Brien can’t talk specifics about the 2013 recruiting class because of NCAA rules.

Generally speaking, though, there’s not much to complain about.

“I feel really good about where we’re at recruiting-wise,” O’Brien said. “Recruiting’s hard. There’s a lot of great programs out there recruiting all the same guys.”

Penn State secured verbal commitments from four four-star prospects, according to Rivals.com, including the nation’s top-ranked tight end, Adam Breneman. Of course, nothing is binding until they sign their letter of intent in February.

O’Brien last coached at the college level in 2006, when he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Duke.

“It seems like it changes every year,” O’Brien said. “The last time I was in college was five years ago, and that’s really not that long but it’s long enough to know that there’s a lot more rules and Facebook and Twitter and all these different things.”

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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