2013 college football spring practice: Penn State hurting for linebacker depth, Illinois lets students kick field goals

Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

Illinois won't be turning to random students to kick field goals in 2013, but maybe they should? Elsewhere, Alabama looks like Alabama and Penn State isn't so Linebacker-U-ish anymore.

Every school has started spring football practice! Huzzah! A look at various happenings on Thursday before spring football games start in earnest this weekend. Let's begin with the two-time national champions:

Alabama

Roll Bama Roll has been heading to practice to scope out the two-time national champions. (Have you heard Alabama are the two-time national champions?)

(Freshman tight end) O.J. Howard has been turning some heads and looks to be as good as advertised. He is what is meant when people talk about "soft hands." He is going to give opposing defensive backfields nightmares. (Freshman running back) Derrick Henry already looks like a seasoned veteran.

"Great!" - Other college football fans.

Penn State

The impact of sanctions, injuries, and recruit Zayd Issah getting into some legal trouble has Linebacker U somewhat strapped for linebackers. There are basically four scholarship linebackers -- Glenn Carson, Mike Hull, Nyeem Wartman, Gary Wooten, and that's it. They'll be able to get through spring ball, but not with as much ease as they usually would:

"We don't have the greatest depth (at linebacker). We have some great kids there,'' O'Brien said. "But as the years go on, that's going to be the issue - how much depth do you have? How well you do with your run-on program? That's the challenge.'' Overall, O'Brien said he feels "OK'' about depth overall this spring, simply based on numbers. Some positions are better stocked than others. The team only practices with full pads on Saturdays. "We hit more last spring,'' O'Brien said. "That was pre-sanctions. We had more guys.''

Illinois

The Illini wanted students to come check out the team's practices, so they promised free pizza and for three lucky students, an opportunity to kick field goals.

Dude one nails it, dude two apparently is unclear about how you're supposed to line up to take field goals, and dude three kicks a duck, but all three go through and all three get the Rudy treatment. I guess this proves that hitting a 22-yard field goal isn't as difficult as I thought. (Also, you'd have to be on the -2-yard-line to kick a 22-yard field goal. I kind of wish they'd let every student at practice kick, if only so we could see super-bored Illini players lifting the 47th student to successfully hit a really short field goal over their head.

Illinois' actual kickers only went 8-for-12 last year, so maybe they're on the market.

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