HUMMELSTOWN — Football measurables can be hidden in a weight room. Track measurables flicker on electronic scoreboards for everybody to see.
So consider these personal bests:
Event:100-meter dash. Time: 10.9 seconds. Event: 200-meter dash. Time: 23.0 seconds.
Now consider the athlete who clocked those times. Nyeem Wartman isn’t a running back, wide receiver or defensive back. He plays linebacker, and the incoming Penn State freshman handles the position in bold ways.
After watching the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Wartman, whether it’s on film or in person, coaches have similar first impressions.
“He is a guy with good size, an instinctive player,” Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said after receiving Wartman’s National Letter of Intent. “A guy his size that can run and hit.”
Blue Mountain’s Mike Brennan, who is coaching Wartman in this week’s Big 33 Football Classic, called Wartman “very physical.”
“He runs extremely well from point A to point B,” Brennan said. “He’s extremely physical against the run, athletic enough to move his hips and defend the pass. He runs downhill. He’s a run-stopper.”
Wartman can clog lanes and track skill players Saturday when Pennsylvania meets Ohio at Hersheypark Stadium. His preparations for the game entail chasing shifty scatback Desmon Peoples and 9,000-yard rusher Rushel Shell in Pennsylvania practices.
The Big 33 game represents Wartman’s second all-star event. He participated in the 2011 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl at Dallas Cowboys Stadium after ending his senior season at District 2 Valley View High School. Appearing in two all-star games against fellow Division I recruits should decrease Wartman’s anxiety when Penn State begins preseason drills in August.
“The first all-star game you are thinking in your head, ‘Look at this kid’s name on paper and the height and weights. This kid is 6-5 and this big. They are nothing like the kids I have played against before,’” Wartman said. “But when you get there, you realize they are football players just like you. The fear factor is not there.”
When Wartman is involved, fear rests on the other side of the field.
He had 303 tackles in three seasons at Valley View and his 120-tackle senior year helped the Cougars reach the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals. Valley View allowed fewer than 10 points in 11 of its 13 games. Wartman, the state’s No. 12 recruit according to Rivals.com, played middle linebacker.
“If you want to put it in the sense of my high school team, I’m a field general,” he said. “I was always handling things on defense. As a football player, in general, I’m a speedy guy who can get to all sides of the field for you.”
Wartman might be in a rush when he’s on the field. But when he reports to Penn State later this month, he might need patience.
The Nittany Lions are deep at linebacker. Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti are entrenched on the outside; Glenn Carson and Khairi Fortt are competing in the middle; sophomore Mike Hull and redshirt freshman Ben Kline lurk behind Hodges and Mauti.
Still, Wartman finds himself in a desirable spot. He is the only linebacker in the 2012 recruiting class.
“My goal is to learn and get on the field as quick as possible,” said Wartman, who lived in Philadelphia before moving to northeastern Pennsylvania in eighth grade. “If I can’t get on the field this year, that’s fine. It’s more learning time, more scout team time against good players.”
Wartman said academics and the school’s linebacker culture led him to Penn State. He’s relying on Hodges, Mauti and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden to enhance his technique.
“The way they play linebacker is flawless,” Wartman said. “I feel like I’m too loose. They are confident in every move that they make. I feel like I’m all over the place. There are a million thoughts in my head. It’s like they are not thinking. They are just moving. I can’t wait to get there and get coached.”
Notes:Thirty-four Penn State players received at least 3.0 GPAs in the spring semester, according to an athletic department news release. Guard John Urschel, tackle Mike Farrell earned 4.0 GPAs.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy