Penn State starts spring practice; Drake moved to CB

Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien said he made a few position changes in time for Monday’s start of spring practice, including the move of former West Catholic star Curtis Drake from wide receiver to cornerback.

“What I saw with Curtis on the football field was good size, good feet, good hips, instinctiveness,” O’Brien said during a press conference at Beaver Stadium. “I think he’s a guy that can contribute over there.”

O’Brien also said he moved Drake to add another player to the secondary, which is a little thinner than he would like.

The 5-foot-11, 173-pound Drake, who will be a redshirt junior in the fall, caught five passes for 102 yards and a touchdown last season and rushed five times for 54 yards as a Wildcat quarterback.

He was involved in a scuffle in December with quarterback Matt McGloin and did not travel with the Nittany Lions to the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas.

Drake, who broke his left leg for the second time during 2011 spring drills, also has been cited twice for disorderly conduct after being involved in fights off-campus.

O’Brien said all 126 players in the program, including Drake, “start with a clean slate with me.

“Curtis and I have had many conversations and I’ll keep those between Curtis and I,” he said. “He’s got to keep up his end of the bargain by doing well in school and keeping his nose clean, and then we’ll give him a shot to play over there this spring.”

O’Brien also said Bill Belton, a former star at Winslow Township High in Camden County, has been moved from wide receiver to tailback.

“We just felt like that was, in our staff’s opinion, a more appropriate position for him, body-type wise, skill-set wise,” he said.

Defensive end Pete Massaro, a former Marple Newtown High standout, has recovered from a torn left ACL and is ready to go, O’Brien said.

“He’s had a good winter,” O’Brien said. “Pete’s a hard-working guy. He’s a typical Penn State guy to me. He’s what we’re all about. He’ll be out there in the spring. He’s going to be hard to block.”

--Joe Juliano