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Penn State Spring Football: Who Will Replace Penn State's No. 1 Draft Pick?

by on April 07, 2010 7:29 AM

Editor's Note: This is the sixth of a 19-part daily series that seeks to answer the questions surrounding the 2010 Penn State football team. Check back every weekday until the Blue-White Game to see the question of the day. Tuesday, we asked: "Why are Joe's new glasses fine?" Today we ask: "Who Will Replace Penn State's No. 1 Draft Pick?"

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Devon Still is quite the sight when he criss-crosses Penn State's campus or heads from his apartment to the Nittany Lion headquarters in the Lasch Building, located southwest of Beaver Stadium.

Granted, Still is 6-foot-5 and 294 pounds. So most people can figure -- correctly so -- that he's a Penn State football player. But beyond that, most players on the squad, even ones of that size, can pretty much go incognito when heading from the HUB to Willard Building or from Shields to Pattee.

What really makes people stand still when Still goes by is this: his bright yellow scooter. The redshirt senior defensive tackle gets around University Park on a 49cc scooter.

Still can't be missed. He drives sans helmet, his elbows cocked and locked to his sides, his brow furrowed, a grimace on his face and his massive body blocking any sunlight.

And you think offensive linemen are scared when they see Still coming at them full-force?

Imagine you're a 5-foot-1 sophomore coed soc major from Scranton and you spy the big guy coming your way. Be still, my (rapidly) beating heart.

"The scooter goes up to 50 miles per hour," Still says proudly. "It's great. And since it's only 49cc, I don't need a license. You do at 50cc."

If Still goes full bore on the practice field this spring, he'll be in the driver's seat to replace Jared Odrick at defensive tackle. OK, more like succeed Odrick rather than replace him.

Odrick started 31 games for Penn State at defensive tackle, including all 13 in 2009. Odrick was the Nittany Lions' fifth-leading tackler last season, with 43 stops, and had 11 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. And those are numbers were compiled against a season of double teams.

Odrick was voted the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year. And he is projected as a first-round draft choice in the upcoming NFL Draft. He's one of eight players invited to participate in the draft in-person in New York.

Still's numbers were strong for a backup last season, as he played behind Odrick and fellow defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu. Still is Penn State's No. 10 returning tackler, with 19 tackles, five of them for a loss, with two sacks.

For his part, Ogbu started all 13 games for the Lions in 2009 and 26 over the past three seasons. "The Staten Island Ferry," as coach Joe Paterno calls Ogbu, is a lock to start again in 2010.

Still, Still is the physical specimen who makes players and coaches alike take notice. In offseason testing, Still lifted 225 pounds 26 times -- the exact numbers Odrick put up at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

That's not the only comparison.

"He's another Odrick," says a veteran member of the Penn State staff who works with both the offense and defense.

High praise indeed. Just another indication that Still's injuries suffered in 2007 and 2008 are now behind him. During summer practice as a true freshmen in 2007, Still tore the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. And in 2008, again in August, Still broke his left ankle.

He went through the 2009 season without a hitch, figuratively or literally. Still says his left leg "feels fine. I'm not nervous about it any more. I'm not thinking about it at all."

Even healthy, Still still has a long way to go to match the football exploits of cousins Art Still (the No. 2 pick in the 1978 NFL Draft) and former Steelers star Levon Kirkland. For the Wilmington, Del., product, spring drills are a good place to begin.

"I'm glad to get it started," he says.

We assume he means football practice and not just that yellow scooter.



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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