For transfers, PSU strength and conditioning standards set new challenges
Assessing the state of Penn State’s defensive line after losing three starters to the NFL Draft this offseason, Nittany Lions strength coordinator Dwight Galt offered a cautiously optimistic take on what’s coming.
With P.J. Mustipher asserting himself as “the guy” within the group, plus Adisa Isaac’s wow-factor flashes early in his career, Galt turned his attention to the desperately needed, quick-fix solutions welcomed to the program this offseason. Adding Arnold Ebiketie from Temple and Derrick Tangelo from Duke this winter, the Nittany Lions have helped to solidify the unsettled feeling that would have existed without their presence at defensive end and tackle, respectively.
“Our two new guys, talk about bringing in some great Rolaids right here, to coin a phrase,” Galt said. “(They) have been phenomenal. These are two guys that are gonna step in and could potentially be great contributors for us.
“They're both older guys, but they're very athletic, they're very mature, they're very hard-working, and they're very driven. And the best thing is, they fit right in. Derrick did a great job in the power clean on Monday and you would never know he'd only been here for eight weeks. He's just treating it like he's one of the guys already.”
That hasn’t necessarily always been the case for Penn State’s transfers into the program, however.
In a practice that is likely to only expand as the NCAA transfer portal ushers players in and out of the program, the instant-eligibility that will come with it given the pending one-time transfer rule and the already existing graduate transfer rules, the influx of players from the collegiate ranks provides new challenges for Galt and his staff. Rather than simply molding prep players out of traditional high school recruiting classes, the Nittany Lions’ strength staff now must remake the variety of conditioning elements that come with transfers into the program from their former collegiate experiences.
It’s a process that, depending on the player, can be significant.
“We go ahead and spend a couple of weeks with kind of getting them integrated in, and then I kind of leave any past training history out of it for them. And then we start kind of diving in a little bit, just for my knowledge and everything,” Galt explained. “It's been a big adjustment for them. It's been a very big adjustment for both of them (Ebiketie and Tangelo). And I think it's been a real positive.”
In addition to Ebiketie and Tangelo, the Nittany Lions also brought in running back John Lovett and corner John Dixon this winter, and will add Harvard offensive lineman transfer Eric Wilson later this spring.
Speaking only of the defensive lineman transfers into the program, Galt detailed that though the process can be abrupt and challenging given some of the different standards that they’d experienced previously, the transition with both Ebiketie and Tangelo has gone well.
“I think that Arnold's background is a little different in that, I think that they had a different situation (at Temple), a little more similar to ours than say they did down in Carolina or at Duke,” Galt said. “But Arnold came in and he wasn't a typical weight of a Penn State D-end. He's already gained seven pounds in the short time he's been here and he's an incredible athlete. So he's blossoming big time with the type of training that we have.
“And then I can say the same about Derrick. Derrick came in and it took him a couple of weeks to get into the program for some other health reasons and once he came into the program, it's been phenomenal. He too gained some weight as well. He's up to about 305 right now. But he put 65 pounds on his power clean just in the short time that he's been here. He was able to clean 350 and has done a nice job.”
Tangelo is listed at 6-foot-2, 298 pounds on Penn State’s spring roster release while Ebiketie checked in at 6-foot-3, 238 pounds initially, now up to 245 according to Galt.
Still, he continued, the experience for Tangelo has been challenging in certain respects.
“It's been a really big transition for him (in) the weight room, but especially those 14 running workouts we talked about,” Galt said. “We get a lot of work done in a short period of time. Our guys get in shape pretty quickly when they come in here as freshmen, but if you're an older player, that can be an adjustment.
"To Derrick's credit though, he's really done a great job catching on and the guys have been very supportive of him and he's almost there, so we got another few weeks ago and we feel good about it.”
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