On Thursday, March 17, a handful of former Penn State football players — and one former wrestler — will showcase their athleticism in front of NFL scouts, coaches and personnel in Holuba Hall for the program’s annual Pro Day.
The workouts are especially important for players who have trained this offseason in hopes of making it at the next level, but did not get an invitation to the NFL Combine in February.
On Wednesday, Penn State athletics announced the players who will be participating in Pro Day.
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A former junior college transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College, the 6-foot-1, 306-pound defensive tackle graduated in December with a criminology degree. Barney made his first career start against Michigan State last season, but rotated throughout Penn State’s front four often to spell Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel. Barney chose management with Selective MG upon his exit from the university.
Barney was not invited to the NFL Combine.
Lucas, a captain at Penn State, suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the last third of his senior season. A promising prospect, Lucas was invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, but could not participate after undergoing shoulder surgery. The 6-foot, 201-pound safety went through interviews and meetings with NFL coaches and scouts at the NFL Combine, but did not participate in workouts.
Lucas is training at Parabolic and is a member of Tier 1 Sports Management, who recently shared a video of the safety working out in assurance that he would participate in Pro Day workouts.
Gingrich was a standout wrestler at both Penn State, where he wrestled in the 285-pound weight class, and Bald Eagle Area High School in Wingate. He finished his wrestling career in 2014. Gingrich earned all-league honors in football and was a four-year letterman in track in high school.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect in this year’s draft, Hackenberg, a three-year staring quarterback, has drawn praise and criticism alike as he’s begun preparations for the next level. He has been training with Jordan Palmer (quarterback coach and brother of NFL signal-caller Carson Palmer) in California.
Though Hackenberg ran a top-3 quarterback 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine with a time of 4.78 seconds, he was sporadic in his throwing drills and will need to showcase more consistency in Pro Day workouts.
Johnson may be selected earliest of all Penn State players in this year’s draft, even though his position is loaded with top prospects. The 6-foot-3, 312-pound defensive tackle cut weight in the offseason (he was 323 pounds during his junior year, his final at the university), and displayed his speed and athleticism despite his size at the combine.
The 21-year-old ranked second on the team behind Carl Nassib with 15 tackles-for-loss and 6.5 sacks and earned All-Big Ten second and third-team honors from media and coaches.
Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 228-pound running back will also participate in Pro Day workouts. The Harrisburg, Pa. native mostly saw time on special teams with Penn State.
Though Keiser’s senior season was in 2014, the safety will participate in this year’s Pro Day workouts. Last season, the starter suffered a fractured rib in practice and had to undergo bowel surgery as complications arose. Keiser went from a walk-on to a starter during his time as a Nittany Lion, and has been named as a continual leader by many teammates.
Penn State’s former center and captain has been working out with Parabolic during the offseason in hopes of playing on an NFL offensive line. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Mangiro was rotated through almost all positions on the line to help fill in a shorthanded unit, barring a stint at left tackle, and told the Centre Daily Times this offseason that he hopes his versatility translates well at the next level.
Fresh from the NFL Combine, Nassib hopes to show scouts that his potential at the next level is more than just his standout senior year. The former walk-on led the nation in sacks and tackles-for-loss during his final season as a starting defensive end for Penn State. Nassib also won the Rotary Lombardi Award for the nation’s best defensive player and the Ted Hendricks award for the nation’s best defensive end.
At 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds, Nassib, nicknamed “Crazy Carl” in college, is a promising prospect — but also a project — for many NFL teams looking for a quick and relentless pass rusher.
A native of Dillsburg, Pa., Salomone did not see much game action while at Penn State — but did travel to most away games. The 5-foot-10, 242-pound Salomone served as a combination tight end/H-back (a blocking role set further back from the line of scrimmage) as a Nittany Lion.
A quiet cornerback with prodigious athleticism, Williams was a 13-game starter for Penn State last season. The 6-foot, 200-pound Maryland native was not invited to the combine but hopes to impress scouts with his speed and ability to create length during Pro Day workouts.
A fan favorite while at Penn State, the quirky defensive tackle performed possibly the best of the Nittany Lion contingent at the NFL Combine. He finished among the front of the pack with a 4.81-second 40-yard dash and cranked out 28 reps on the bench press.
Those reps also went toward Zettel’s charitable effort through Penn State’s Uplifting Athlete’s chapter, and he was able to raise more than $6,000 for rare disease research.
Zettel also posted a 30.5-inch vertical and 109-inch broad jump alongside a 7.36-second cone drill and a 4.39-second shuttle run.
His 6-foot-4, 277-pound long-legged frame puts him at somewhere between the ideal build of a tackle and an end, and while at Penn State he played in both spots.