UNIVERSITY PARK — It didn’t look promising when Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill hobbled off the field last Saturday at Purdue. It looked worse when athletic trainers loaded the 6-foot-1, 292-pound senior on a cart.
On paper, the situation looks better.
Penn State listed Hill’s status as “day-to-day” in its official injury report released Tuesday. The Nittany Lions visit 18th-ranked Nebraska on Saturday.
Hill sprained his knee in the second quarter of the 34-9 victory. Those around Hill said he’s optimistic his condition will improve.
“I can tell he’s itching (to play) right now,” senior linebacker Michael Mauti said. “I know he’s feeling good right now. That’s going to be up to him and the trainers on how he feels in practice. You would have to ask him about that. I haven’t really asked him much.”
Cornerback Stephon Morris said he hasn’t noticed a change in Hill’s demeanor this week.
“When I talk to him, he’s still the same Jordan Hill,” Morris said. “A great teammate, a great player.”
Hill isn’t the only key player trying to recuperate before Saturday. Redshirt freshman tight end Kyle Carter, the team’s second leading receiver, injured his left foot late in last month’s loss to Ohio State. Carter didn’t travel to Purdue. He’s also listed as “day-to-day” in the injury report.
“They come in every day for treatment and then we take a look at them in the training room, the weight room and out on the field,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “That will be a later in the week decision about whether they will play or not.”
O’Brien said both players have “been able to do some things” in practice. O’Brien refused to reveal details of Hill and Carter’s daily activities.
Senior James Terry and sophomore Kyle Baublitz replaced Hill last week. True freshman Jesse James received some of Carter’s pass-catching duties.
Running back Curtis Dukes will not play against Nebraska. Dukes suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff at Purdue.
Don’t go there
O’Brien received an Election Day opportunity to endorse quarterback Matt McGloin as an All-Big Ten candidate.
Judging by his words, O’Brien wants to delay his endorsement.
“I’m not thinking about all-conference teams,” O’Brien said. “We’re focused on a very good football team in Nebraska with a great coaching staff and great players. After the season, I’ll read who is on the all-conference team, but right now I am just focused on the opponent.”
McGloin, a fifth-year senior, leads the Big Ten with 211 completions for 2,436 yards. His 18 touchdown passes are tied with Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez for the conference lead.
When O’Brien uses gaudy adjectives to describe a tight end, it sparks interest. O’Brien, after all, worked with New England Patriots pass-grabbers Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez last year.
O’Brien hinted his current roster might include a special player in James.
“He has unlimited potential,” O’Brien said.
James, who enrolled last January, had his best receiving game against Purdue, catching three passes for 49 yards. He will enter Saturday with nine catches, 123 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s a 6-foot-7, 265-pound young kid who came out of high school early and took a while to learn what we were trying to do,” O’Brien said. “He kept working at it. He’s a hard-working kid and he’s coached well by John Strollo. He’s done well in the weight room and we are expecting big things over the next few years and the next few games.”