Penn State's Still hoping to replace All-American Odrick

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Devon Still is hard to miss as he cruises across Penn State's campus on his 49cc scooter.

Still, 6 feet 5 and 304 pounds, said the bike reaches speeds of 50 mph, yet he doesn't wear a helmet.

"Me being so big, I know it's a sight to behold seeing me on the scooter," Still said, laughing. "I like to ride it to practice. And I have left a few of my teammates ride it. It's a good conversation piece."

When the Nittany Lions opened practice Thursday, plenty of eyes were focused on Still.

He is the guy attempting to replace All-American defensive tackle Jared Odrick, who was the Big Ten Conference's defensive player of the year last season and a first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins.

"Jared set the yardstick, but hopefully I'm able to move the yardstick forward," Still said. "He went full speed on every play. In order to be a great defensive lineman, you have to have a high motor like him.

"I don't think it's a burden to replace him. I'm ready to take on the comparisons. The only difference between Jared and I is that I have a lot less money.

"I just feel as though we are very similar. We both have that drive to go out there and do our best. We won't let anybody block us."

Still, a redshirt junior, is one of six new starters on defense for Penn State.

His career has been hampered by injuries. He redshirted as a freshman in 2007 after the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee was torn. And he sat out the first 11 games in 2008 after his left ankle was broken in preseason practice.

Still's career statistics, which were compiled last season, won't scare many -- 19 tackles, including 5 1/2 for losses, and two sacks.

"My first two years were tough, but now that I'm back, I'm ready to go out there and give it my all," he said. "Going through something that hard, when you finally get back, you don't take nothing for granted.

"You want to take advantage of every second you're out there on the field because any play it can be over like it was before."

Two of Still's cousins played in the NFL.

Art Still was a four-time Pro Bowl defensive end who played 10 seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs and two for the Buffalo Bills. Levon Kirkland was a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker who played nine seasons for the Steelers and one each for the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles.

Despite his pedigree, Devon Still has never been on the field for more than 45 plays in a game at Penn State.

"I have a lot to prove and I am ready to prove it," he said.

Still is expected to line up alongside fifth-year senior defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu, who has started 22 games the past two seasons.

Junior Jack Crawford, who started 13 games a year ago, returns at defensive end, as does redshirt junior Eric Latimore, who made five starts last season.

"Devon's a strong force," Crawford said. "I've always liked playing with him in practice and in the games. Losing Jared is a big loss, but Devon is a big guy, a strong guy. He's going to help us a lot."

Still's responsibilities won't just be limited to the playing field. He has an infant daughter, Lehsari, who was born earlier this summer.

"To see my girlfriend actually like pushing another human out, it blows your mind," Still said. "When you hear that first cry, it's real crazy. But it's also very beautiful."

NOTE -- The inaugural Big Ten Conference championship game will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The conference said Thursday it is in the process of negotiating a one-year deal. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany recently said a thorough search for sites for the league's title game after 2011 would get under way soon.


Ron Musselman: rmusselman@post-gazette.com .


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