UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- True freshman Mike Hull is turning a lot of heads.
Hull, from Canon-McMillan High School, was recruited as a linebacker. In fact, he was rated the No. 1 middle linebacker in the country by Scout.com.
But Hull spent his first eight practices of his collegiate career working at strong safety before being moved to linebacker Thursday.
"We just thought we would look at him at safety because he's so fast and so quick and [coach] Joe [Paterno] likes the idea of having a big, physical safety," linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden said at the Nittany Lions' annual media day.
"Right now, he's still a little bit undersized at 205, 206 pounds, but he runs extremely well and he's got the ability to play outside."
Vanderlinden said Hull "reminds me of the Western Pennsylvania guys in that he's all business like Sean [Lee] and Paul [Posluszny] were. And Mike's passionate about playing and he's tough."
Free safety Nick Sukay from Greensburg Central Catholic said Hull "is doing a great job. He's very explosive."
Backup middle linebacker Mike Yancich from Trinity called Hull "the real deal. He's going to be a very good player."
Sophomore wide receiver Curtis Drake suffered a broken leg Monday in practice during a non-contact play.
Paterno said Drake would miss "at least 6-8 weeks."
"That's a big loss for us," he said. "Drake's one of the better football players that we have. He's very versatile. He can do a lot of things.
"He can throw the ball. He was a heck of a high school quarterback. And he's a really good receiver, a good runner."
With the loss of Drake, some thought Paterno might opt to move Chaz Powell from cornerback to wide receiver.
But that's not the case, even though Powell, a redshirt junior, caught 28 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns in nine starts at receiver a year ago.
"Powell is doing very well on defense and likes it over there," Paterno said. "I doubt very much, unless there would be a disaster, we'd move Powell. We'll keep him right where he is."
Cornerback Stephon Morris said the stinger he suffered in practice Monday was not serious, but he remains day-to-day. Morris said he was injured after running into a defensive lineman. ... Paterno said highly-recruited redshirt freshman offensive lineman Eric Shrive is "inconsistent. He guesses a little bit. He's not quick or as disciplined a kid as you got to be in this league right now. And he's not a take-charge guy. We're looking for a couple guys who go out there and dominate some people. He's not there yet." ... Paterno said he thinks Doug Klopacz "is gonna be OK" at center, allowing Stefen Wisniewski from Central Catholic to remain at right guard. ... Paterno said 337-pound defensive tackle Brandon Ware still has academic issues. "Ware's been a goof-off academically," Paterno said. "He's straightening himself out a little bit, but he's not home-free yet."