STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Spring football is officially underway and with one practice in the books, probable captains Sean Lee and Daryll Clark met with the media inside the Bryce Jordan Center. Coach Joe Paterno will answer questions later this afternoon.
After a medical redshirt season, Lee is back at linebacker. The senior, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, said the limb is ready to go. However, Penn State coaches are planning to keep him out of contact drills.
Clark is back under the center, but this spring the senior doesn't have to worry about a race for the job. Pat Devlin is gone and after an all-Big Ten 2008, Clark is in charge. He has a different obstacle, though, with his entire receiving corps lost to graduation.
Here are a few of the highlights from their interviews:
LEE ON PARTICIPATING IN CONTACT DRILLS THIS SPRING:
That's up to them. I know that if I could play, I could play tomorrow. They're just being cautious. ... I'm not worried about the hitting when it comes to the knee. I'm going to find a way to hit. Seven-on-seven drills, the wide receiver catches the ball, I have pads on, I have to hit.
LEE SAID HE'S PLAYING AT MIDDLE LINEBACKER RIGHT NOW:
We've been changing things up. I can play any of the positions. The spring is a time to work on fundamentals. It doesn't really matter.
LEE ON GETTING BACK OUT THERE FOR THE FIRST TIME:
Putting the helmet on for the first time, [I] kind of pulled my hair. It hurt a little bit. I got chapped lips from the mouth guard. It's just good to be back.
LEE ON NEXT SEASON:
We want to prove ourselves. We want to have another shot at a national championship or a Rose Bowl or a big-time game.
ASKED WHO'S STEPPING UP LEADERSHIP-WISE ON THE DEFENSE, LEE SAID:
[Safety] Drew Astorino is a guy who had a lot of experience last year and played well.
LEE ON NAVORRO BOWMAN'S 2008 SEASON:
I thought he was an all-American.
LEE ON PATERNO'S NEW HIP AND HEALTH:
He looks great. He looks practically he's old self. It shows just how amazing he is because he's been through two major surgeries that last three years. That shows just how much a fighter he is.
LEE ON WINTER WORKOUTS:
This was probably the longest winter workout I've been a part of since I've been here. [Paterno] wants us to be the same kind of team. And I think he didn't like the way we went out [in the Rose Bowl].
CLARK ON DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS SPRING AND LAST:
It's a little different. I'm still taking a lot of the reps. I'm not taking many reps off. Coach Jay [Paterno] made it for certain I was going to have to be the guy to be a big-time leader this year. I was well-prepared for that.
CLARK ON WORKING WITH TRUE FRESHMAN KEVIN NEWSOME, HIS POTENTIAL BACKUP:
I'm really impressed in Kevin because he asks a lot of questions that have to do with football. ... He's a very good student of the game and he's willing to learn. He's very, very coachable.
CLARK ON REGRETS FROM LAST SEASON:
I wish that pass was lower across the middle to Derrick [Williams] in the Iowa game. I would be a fool if I told you I forgot about that game. It was painful.
CLARK ON WHETHER HE SHOULD HAVE PLAYED THAT GAME:
Yes, absolutely. I was fine. ... Maybe I looked a little off and looked like maybe the concussion was affecting me a little bit.
CLARK ON BEING PUSHED BY NEWSOME:
It's a little bit of a comfort level now. With the fact that [Newsome] is really young and has a lot of learning to do. Not to just say him, I still have a lot of learning to do, as well. Naturally, for some players when they have that cushion they relax and you can't do that.
CLARK ON PATERNO PUSHING TEAM AFTER ROSE BOWL LOSS:
Jay told me that Joe was really, really upset about that game because he felt we gave them the game.