Penn State Football: Meet the Nittany Lions' 2013 Walk-Ons
For Penn State football to keep up with the premier recruiting classes put together by Ohio State and others, it may sound weird to hear that walk-ons could be the glue that keeps the Nittany Lions competitive during this sanction period.
Affectionately pinned as "run-ons" by head coach Bill O'Brien, these are guys who were overlooked by the vast majority of major programs, but have talent to work with.
While others turned their heads, O'Brien welcomes all that qualify with open arms.
Not only does a crop of walk-ons give you depth, but some can turn into legitimate contributors down the road if they're given the proper coaching and have the right mentality.
While it seems like new additions are announced by the hour, we'll try to keep up by breaking down the 17 "run-ons" the Lions have picked up so far.
Quarterback Jack Seymour; Photo Credit to 247 Sports
Whipple should know a thing or two about mechanics in the pocket considering he's the son of Cleveland Browns quarterback coach Mark Whipple.
Go ahead and laugh at the Browns but on tape Whipple, who played for Connecticut's Salisbury School at the prep level, shows the ability to step up in the pocket with confidence.
However, the most notable thing is Whipple's capability to escape duress and dance around defensive linemen to create chances others probably can't.
Before enrolling at Worcester Academy, Crook totaled 8,126 yards – a Massachusetts high school record – and 77 touchdowns as a four-year starter at Barnstable High School.
Playing in a run-and-shoot offense at Worcester, Crook was a rhythmic passer and showed some athletic wrinkles working a little zone-read.
After high school, Crook's only offer was from FCS school Holy Cross.
The most recent quarterback "run-on", Jack Seymour hasn't received much attention since his decision, but it's deserving.
Seymour, a pro-style signal-caller out of Indianapolis, stands at 6'3'' and threw for 17 touchdowns this past season.
While his mechanics look like they could use some work, Seymour isn't afraid to make the gutsy throw and shows leadership in the pocket.
While his only FBS scholarship offers came from Ball State and Western Michigan, Seymour received interest from the likes of Michigan, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Oregon State.
Running back Cole Chiappialle; Photo Credit to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
While he played a little bit of defensive back in high school, Chiappialle is expected to play on the offensive side of the ball upon arriving at Penn State.
If the phrase "numbers never lie" is true, Chiappialle is a steal as a walk-on.
Coming out of Beaver, Pa., Chiappialle scored 27 touchdowns and rushed for 1,504 yards on the ground last year, including a 404-yard beast-like performance.
Also, Chiappialle showed his versatility, catching 49 passes for 523 receiving yards.
The son of former Nittany Lion Rich Tomasetti, the recent addition hails from Scranton, Pa., the city that was home to and watched quarterback Matthew McGloin thrive as a walk-on.
Tomasetti told the Scranton Times-Tribune:
"Matt has influenced me a lot," Tomasetti said. "He showed me that even by walking on you can make it with hard work.
"The sky is the limit."
Not only does Tomasetti have the right attitude, but statistically the 6'2'' back also pounded the ball 220 times last year for more than 1,800 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Photo Credit to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gregg Garrity Jr.:
While Penn State has captured just one true wide receiver walk-on so far, it's a name that Nittany Lions fans should be familiar with.
Garrity Jr., who hails from the Allegheny area, is the son of former Nittany Lions wideout Gregg Garrity Sr., famously known for "The Catch" in the 1983 Sugar Bowl that helped Penn State win the 1982 National Championship.
While the younger Garrity probably won't make a bigger catch than that, he certainly has the capability to be a productive receiver for the Lions.
As a senior, Garrity Jr. hauled in 67 receptions for 1,240 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also received interest from Bucknell and Princeton.
Athlete Von Walker; Photo Credit to 247 Sports
While some list him as a true running back, Walker's role in Penn State's offense will likely be compared to what Danny Woodhead does for the New England Patriots—lining in the backfield, but also spliting out in the slot.
Walker told 247 Sports:
[Coach O'Brien] said that he wanted me to be a slot back like [Penn State wideout] Alex Kenney or an H-back.
He certainly has the capability to do so as Walker showed shiftiness and decisive cuts when he ran for over 1,500 yards his senior year of high school.
Geiss, primarily a quarterback out of Malvern, Pa., probably won't be under center for the Lions considering the depth they already have.
Standing at 6'2'', 180 pounds, Geiss was a dual-threat guy and because he's coming in as an athlete he'll likely see reps in the defensive secondary considering the need for depth.
Standing at 5'11'', Geiger won't be the most imposing player on the field, but showed bursts of speed and lower body strength on tape.
With that being said, Geiger, who ran for more than 1,500 yards rushing in his senior year, also played a hybrid linebacker-safety position.
Considering his swiftness, Geiger would be a solid fit as a ball-hawk in the secondary.
Geiger also received interest from New Hampshire.
Offensive guard Tom Devenney; Photo Credit to 247 Sports
After losing a few upperclassmen to graduation, bringing in offensive line depth can never hurt and Devenney can help in that regard.
The offensive guard, who holds firm at 6'2'' and 285 pounds, also succeeded as a wrestler in high school, which correlates into quick hands and nimble feet.
It seems like a trend is forming with a lot of these walk-ons: O'Brien and company are taking care of business in-state.
Continuing that trend, Penn State has successfully gleaned over the state's talent and plucked out Fiedler.
The Turbotville, Pa. native boasts a 6'5'' frame—a plus for an offensive tackle at the FBS level.
Defensive back Tom Pancoast; Photo Credit by 247 Sports
Evan Galimberti, DT:
Sticking to its roots, Penn State went right down the road to State College Area high school and snagged defensive tackle Evan Galimberti.
While the tackle is just 250 pounds, Galimberti towers at 6'5'' and should help provide the Lions with solid depth on the defensive front.
Tom Pancoast, DB:
Despite being labeled as a dual-threat quarterback and linebacker by various recruiting services, Pancoast is expected to play safety for Penn State.
Pancoast, a Kennet Square, Pa. native, stands at 6'4'' and should hang with tall receivers and provide favorable matchups in the secondary.
Pancoast also had an offer on the table from Colgate.
Kyle Searfoss, LB:
Searfoss, who's capable of hurling an 88-mph fastball, won't be playing quarterback for the Lions.
Instead, he'll be going after them.
Searfoss, a walk-on out of Lewisberry, Pa., will come to Happy Valley as an inside linebacker.
The 6'2'' linebacker led Red Land High School in tackles (78), including 61 solo stops.
Brandon Smith, LB:
Also a middle linebacker, Smith looks to work his way into the mix of an always crowded Penn State linebacking corp.
Coming from nearby Lewisburg, Pa., Smith chose an opportunity to walk-on at Penn State over interested schools such as Colgate, Liberty, Lehigh and Princeton.
Kicker/punter Chris Gulla; Photo Credit to NJ.com
Sean Corcoran, LS:
While seeing a long snapper getting some love on the recruiting trail, every walk-on counts for Penn State.
Corcoran comes from Bishop McNamara High School in Illinois and holds firm at 6'2'' and 210 pounds.
Chris Gulla, K/P:
While much-maligned Lions kicker Sam Ficken figured it out toward the end of the season, it can never hurt to have too many kicking options.
Gulla comes in as a kicker/punter hybrid and looks to compete for the job his freshman year.
Gulla told NJ.com:
"It's a great playing opportunity," Gulla said. "I'll be going into camp with the chance to start as both a kicker and punter."
Gulla, a four-year starter in high school, leaves behind a decorated career at Toms River North where he connected on 17 of his 22 field goal attempts.
In his senior year, Gulla earned all-state honors, recorded a 42-yard punt average and booted 33 touchbacks on kickoffs.