UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On Monday, seven football recruits enrolled early and started their first semester at Penn State. The seven are tight end Adam Breneman, defensive back Jordan Smith, junior-college quarterback Tyler Ferguson, walk-on quarterbacks D.J. Crook and Austin Whipple, defensive back Anthony Smith and running back Richy Anderson.
Of the group, Breneman is the most highly touted, considered a consensus top-five national tight end coming out of high school.
"We've got a great kid there that we think has fantastic potential and now he has to put his head down and go to work," coach Bill O'Brien said. Breneman injured his knee in June and missed his senior football season.
O'Brien also mentioned a few young players he expected to see improvement from this spring who did not play much or at all in the fall, including linebacker Nyeem Wartman, defensive tackle Austin Johnson, wide receivers Geno Lewis and Malik Golden and offensive lineman Wendy Laurent.
Dukes doesn't return
O'Brien said running back Curtis Dukes did not return to Penn State this semester. Dukes had the most rushing yards of any returning Penn State running back in 2011. Yet he rarely played in 2012, rushing for 98 yards on 26 attempts.
On the subject of running backs, O'Brien said one of his goals for the next season was to find different ways to get Bill Belton involved.
"I'm going to try, along with a lot of other guys, figure out different ways to use these guys," O'Brien said.
O'Brien said tight end Kyle Carter recently got a new cast on his wrist and said he wasn't sure if Carter would be ready for spring practice. Carter injured his wrist against Nebraska and missed the final two games of the season. He was the Nittany Lions' second-leading receiver with 36 receptions for 453 yards.
Acting athletic director Dave Joyner echoed previous statements he has made, saying he was here at the behest of president Rodney Erickson and that he would stay on as long as Penn State wanted to keep him. On Monday, the Penn Staters For Responsible Stewardship released a statement saying they awaited "the hiring of a qualified, permanent athletic director."
First Published January 7, 2013 12:00 AM