Penn State football: Lion safety playing through pain

gciprian@centredaily.comNovember 15, 2012 

— Sometimes a big hit hurts Penn State’s Stephen Obeng-Agyapong more than the player he’s thumping.

Such is the football life of a strong safety with an ailing shoulder.

Obeng-Agyapong has played through a shoulder injury this season. The junior said Wednesday that off-season surgery is a possibility.

Before his shoulder undergoes further evaluation, Obeng-Agyapong has two more games to play, beginning Saturday against Indiana at Beaver Stadium.

Facing the pass-happy Hoosiers might present an opportunity for some jarring hits. What happens after contact either excites Obeng-Agyapong or forces him to cringe.

“It’s tough,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt every time I hit, but certain plays when I play it bends up and hurts. It’s a pain that goes away in a couple of minutes. I can play through it. I have been doing it all season. I’m used to it now.”

Despite the pain, Obeng-Agyapong has started all 10 games and helped stabilize a secondary thin on scholarship players.

His unit is facing another plight this week. Free safety Malcolm Willis, who has started all 10 games, injured his knee in last week’s third quarter at Nebraska. Willis is listed as day-to-day on the injury report and he didn’t participate in the parts of Wednesday’s practice open to reporters.

Penn State’s safety rotation includes three players: Obeng-Agyapong, Willis and senior Jake Fagnano. Obeng-Agyapong said sophomores Ryan Keiser and Jesse Della Valle are also working into the safety rotation.

“I’m not too worried about it,” Obeng-Agyapong said. “Jacob is getting a lot of reps. Me, Malcolm and Jacob have been pretty much starting every game. We rotate. I feel like Keiser has been good in practice as well and Jesse Della Valle has been getting a lot reps. I feel like we are prepared at stopping their attack.”

Focused on football

Penn State’s wrestling team is searching for a heavyweight and middle linebacker Glenn Carson has spectacular credentials, reaching the New Jersey state finals three times at Southern Regional High School. Carson won a 215-pound state title as a senior.

Like it does every winter, the wrestling bug will hit Carson. Unlike the past three winters, Carson, a fourth-year junior, won’t be preparing for a bowl game because of Penn State’s NCAA-mandated postseason ban. On-field football activities resume with the opening of spring drills in late March.

Will a December without football lead Carson back to wrestling?

“I definitely miss wrestling a lot,” he said Wednesday. “It’s a sport that once you have done it you learn to really appreciate the sport and appreciate the people who are wrestlers as well. I think about it a lot, but I think it’s best for me to just stay with football.”

Jimmy Lawson, a former New Jersey state champion who played football at Monmouth last year, and Bald Eagle Area High School graduate Jon Gingrich are competing to become Penn State’s heavyweight. The wrestling season begins Friday against Lehigh.

McGloin nominated for walk-on award

Ask quarterback Matt McGloin about the term walk-on, and there’s a good chance he will express his disdain for the nomenclature.

Yet, McGloin has a chance to earn an award because of his former walk-on status.

McGloin is one of 50 candidates for the Burlsworth Trophy, an award created in 2010 given to the top player who started his career as a walk-on.

Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs, Iowa kicker Mitch Meyer, Nebraska guard Spencer Long and Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis are the other Big Ten players nominated for the award.

McGloin leads the Big Ten with 229 completions and 2,676 passing yards.

Follow Guy Cipriano on Twitter @cdtguy.

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