Penn State’s Curtis Cothran, in his second year at defensive tackle, looking to build on 2016
Penn State defensive tackle Curtis Cothran runs a drill during practice held at the StubHub Center in Carson, Ca. on Dec. 29, 2016. PennLive photo by Joe Hermitt
Devon Still. Jordan Hill. DaQuan Jones. Anthony Zettel. Austin Johnson.
Is Curtis Cothran next?
A tradition of sorts has developed at Penn State. Go back to the 2011 season and you can find several defensive tackles who have enjoyed breakout seasons late in their college careers.
Still registered 17 tackles for loss and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2011. Hill responded with a big year in 2012 (8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) and he was followed by Jones in 2013 (11.5 tackles for loss, three sacks), Zettel in 2014 ( 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks) and Johnson in 2015 (15 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks.).
Cothran, a 6-5, 293-pound fifth-year senior, is expected to split time at the 3-technique spot with redshirt sophomore Kevin Givens. The duo was in the same time share in 2016.
A converted defensive end, Cothran produced 4.5 tackles for loss last season — three in the win over Wisconsin — and is capable of much more, according to Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer.
“I think inside, guys like Curtis Cothran, he’s a pleasant surprise, moving from defensive end to defensive tackle,” Spencer said earlier during spring practice.
“I think it was kind of like, last year it was, ‘Okay, Curtis is going to move inside, we’ll see how this happens’. And now, I think he’s got a chance to be dominant.”
Cothran, speaking Tuesday on a conference call with reporters, said he enjoys working, and learning, from Spencer.
“He’s definitely the same guy,” Cothran said of Spencer.
“He’s just a ball of energy, just like a fresh breath of air. It’s great to be able to look at my coach and see how excited he is, and be out there with him and just know that we’re on the same page, we’re feeling the same way.”
“I feel that my off-season went pretty well,” Cothran added.
Penn State defensive tackle Kevin Givens squats during winter workouts held in the Lasch Building on March 17, 2017. Joe Hermitt | email@example.com
“I feel like my body’s looking healthy, I feel great. … It’s just film study and things like that, looking at my keys and being able to split double-teams … those types of things, more technique things than anything.”
One player who put up bigger numbers than Cochran is Givens, the Altoona High grad who is one of the strongest players on the team.
The 6-1, 281-pound Givens posted seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season.
“Kevin is a monster,” Cothran said.
“The things that he does on the football field, it’s ridiculous sometimes when you watch him, especially being such a young guy.
“He has so much time to mature and grow. … I’m expecting a big year for him this year and hopefully everything works out and that will be the way it goes.”