UNIVERSITY PARK — When they’ve gotten the opportunities, Penn State football players have turned their eyes to television sets inside their dorm rooms, apartments and the Lasch Building players’ lounge and flipped to coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine.
Not only has it given them the chance to watch former teammates Allen Robinson, John Urschel and DaQuan Jones showcase their skills for pro scouts, it’s allowed them to set baselines for themselves in preparation for their own futures.
“Hopefully one day if I get invited, God willing, I can go in and do better than them,” junior offensive tackle Donovan Smith said.
While he’s kept a close eye on former linemate Urschel, Smith’s been impressed — and inspired by — the performances of a few players at his position. Namely Michigan’s Taylor Lewan and Auburn’s Greg Robinson, who both turned in 40-yard dash times under five seconds.
Penn State’s starting left tackle isn’t running in the 4.8-second range yet. But he’s determined to get there.
“I definitely do look at some numbers,” Smith said. “A couple of 4.8s there for some tackles in the 40-yard dash and what not. I kind of have a little bit of a bar to set. I can work toward that and aim toward that here.”
Sophomore linebacker Nyeem Wartman has also tracked the results linebackers have put up in Indianapolis.
He’s been referring to a sheet with all the average numbers achieved by his position group over the last few years during Penn State’s winter conditioning period.
“I’ve got to beat the average at least,” Wartman said. “Numbers are just numbers at times. Some players can have really bad numbers and still be talented players on the field.”
Robinson didn’t turn many heads with his 40-yard dash time — he posted a 4.6 and 36 receivers were quicker — but he did post Top 10 results in four other drills. While Robinson opted not to bench press, the back-to-back Big Ten Receiver of the Year tied USC’s Marqise Lee for the second-best broad jump (127 inches), posted the sixth-best 20-yard shuttle run (four seconds), sixth-best 60-yard shuttle (11.36 seconds) and tied two others for the fourth-best vertical jump (39 inches).
Meanwhile, Urschel ran a 5.31 40-yard dash, bench pressed 30 reps, turned in a 29-inch vertical leap, a 102-inch broad jump, ran the three-cone drill in 7.55 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.47.
Jones ran a 5.35 40-yard dash, put up 25 reps on the bench, notched a 27 1/2 vertical, 101-inch broad jump and ran the three-cone drill in 7.79 seconds.
Two more recruits commit to Penn State
The recruiting trail continues to keep hot for Penn State. The Nittany Lions got verbal commitments from two prospects in the 2015 class on Tuesday, multiple recruiting services reported.
Linebacker Jake Cooper and defensive end Ryan Buchholz pushed Penn State’s most recent class to six when they both announced their intents to play for Penn State.
Buchholz, considered a three-star recruit by 24/7 Sports, is from Malvern Pa. and will enter his senior year at Great Valley High School this fall. Cooper, also a three-star prospect, is from Warminster, Pa. and is an Archbishop Wood product.
At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, Buchholz had offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Purdue, West Virginia and Duke while the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Cooper chose Penn State over Boston College, Duke, Pittsburgh, Northewestern and Rutgers, according to 24/7 Sports.