Adam Gress operates as a nomad on Penn States offensive line, switching sides or positions on short notice.
He hides whatever angst the moves produce.
Donovan Smith has the of look a boulder.
He will play wherever needed, but isnt coy about declaring his preferred spot.
Left tackle is easier for me, he said.
After switching sides in spring drills, Gress and Smith might have found their 2012 landing spots.
Penn States summer depth chart lists Gress as the first-team right tackle. Smith, a redshirt freshman, is listed as the No. 1 left tackle.
The pair will not open preseason drills, which begin Aug. 6, on the side they ended spring drills. Both players say they are fine with the summer swap.
It doesnt really make a difference, Gress said. Right and left, its all one in the same. It was good to be at both sides. I guess at the end of the day the coaches found me more comfortable at right. I feel comfortable at right. I feel like I play well there.
All summer moves are subject to change. A new offensive staff, which includes head coach Bill OBrien and offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, receive four weeks of practices to set a lineup for the Sept. 1 opener against Ohio University.
Gress, a junior from Western Pennsylvania, knows this can change fast.
In my time here I have never spent I would say more than four or five weeks at a single side, he said. I have been all over the place on both sides. Its actually been pretty good for me. Im comfortable all the way around.
Gress has played every offensive line position besides center. Smith had only played one position before the spring.
Smith developed into a dominating left tackle at Owings Mills (Md.) High School. Penn States former coaching staff resisted the urge to remove his redshirt last year, which allowed Smith to learn the nuances of left tackle from Quinn Barham, Mike Farrell and Gress. Barham started 26 games in his Penn State career. Farrell, a senior, is competing with Smith and Gress for playing time this season.
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Smith factored quickly into OBrien and McWhorters plans. He worked at first-team right tackle in the spring, but Smith admitted he never felt comfortable at the position.
I played left all last year, he said. I feel like thats my most comfortable position. There were a couple of days in spring practice at right tackle. They were definitely hard. I got yelled at a couple of times coming out of a right-handed stance.
Returning to his natural spot has reinvigorated Smith, one of two freshmen listed as a first-teamer on the depth chart. Tight end Kyle Carter is the other redshirt freshman on the first team.
It felt good seeing my name there, Smith said. I was actually thinking back at home and sitting in the kitchen with my uncle (George Smith) and having him say your name is going to be there and you are going to be a starter. Seeing that was definitely good.
The strain on a young left tackle can be immense, especially if OBrien immediately integrates the New England Patriots ways into Penn States offense. The Patriots averaged 38.3 passing plays per game. Smith will be protecting right-handed quarterback Matt McGloins blindside.
Thats a big responsibility, especially with him being a redshirt freshman, said senior center Matt Stankiewitch, the lone returning starter on the line. Donovans a very good player. Hes very mature for his age. I think he can take that responsibility with open arms.
Smith has another big fan two players to Stankiewitchs right.
Donovan feels really comfortable on the left side, and I feel really comfortable on the right side, the 6-foot-6, 306-pound Gress said.
Were in spots where it feels good to play and we are comfortable there. I think thats big.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy