Penn State assistant coach Mac McWhorter describes some of his offensive linemen as only he can

Penn State guard Miles Dieffenbach (65) and offensive tackle Donovan Smith (76) line up against Central Florida during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against UCF in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. UCF won 34-31. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Penn State’s offensive line may consist of the most unique set of characters on the Nittany Lions, and Mac McWhorter may be one of the most vibrant coaches. 

A lifelong southerner who came out of coaching retirement for his last tour of duty at Penn State, McWhorter sees the players on his offensive line in a different light than anyone else. Here’s how the 63-year-old (although his linemen says his antics sometimes reflect those of a 25-year-old) described some of them: 

John Urschel 

“Man, I’ll tell you what, he was really struggling academically before I got here. If you buy that, then I got some oceanfront property in Arizona. But no, I’ve had some really good academic kids, really good... I’ve never seen a student like him, 4.0 [GPA], masters, second masters coming up. He is unique. Whatever I tell him, I better remember it, because he sure does.” 

Donavon Smith 

“He is a tremendous talent. He is maturing and growing all the time, getting better and better and better. He has a tremendous future and he’s playing well for us right now. We need to keep him playing to where he is a consistently dominant player.”

Ty Howle 

“Swamp man (I’ve got a nickname for all of them). Ty’s the swamp man. He brings his flavor to the offensive line. He’s one of the few that can understand my dialect all the way through, being from North Carolina.” 

Adam Gress

“Adam is a very unique individual himself. He’s a different personality than the rest. I’ve tried hard to get Adam and Ty to cut their hair. Somehow, I haven’t had success with that. But as long as they play well, I don’t really care that much. It gives me something to do with them.” 

Andrew Nelson

“I am really excited about Andrew Nelson. He is a guy that we are almost weekly talking about, ‘Well, do we need to play him, do we not.’ He is actually taking a ton of reps right now with second team and getting ready to play because he literally is our fourth tackle. What I’m doing at this point, only four games into the season, is getting him a lot of reps, ready to play, and hoping we can redshirt him. I can see him possibly as a four-year starter.” 

Miles Dieffenbach 

“I have never not seen that [funny] side of him. He keep our room light, he really does. He keeps our team light. You have to have a lot of different type personalities. Miles is one. He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s really sharp. One-liners come real fast to him. As a football player, he has made tremendous progress from this time last year, mostly in consistency. He played pretty well last year. Miles is a very conscientious young man, and he works hard at what he does. So you point out things to him that he needs to improve upon, and he certainly works at it.”