STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State's Silas Redd, one of the best returning running backs in the Big Ten, says he really likes what he's seeing from his new backup, converted wide receiver Bill Belton.
"He's one of the most fluent runners I've ever seen," said Redd, who rushed for 1,241 yards last season. "I think it was a great switch to move him to running back because he's more comfortable there. You can see it in his practice habits and the way he plays. He's going to be a great back, and I'm excited for him."
Belton, who played quarterback at Winslow Township High and wide receiver last season as a Penn State freshman, rushed for 50 yards on seven carries in Saturday's Blue-White Game and scored a touchdown on a nifty 7-yard run.
Coach Bill O'Brien likes the move he made to get Belton, who played Wildcat quarterback in two games last season, into the backfield.
"I've been really happy with Bill," O'Brien said. "Bill's a smart guy. He's a quiet guy. He works at his craft. When we moved him there, he's picked it up pretty well. He's got good instincts. . . . He's had a good spring and I've been very happy with that position switch."
O'Brien said that he would like Belton to "carry the ball a little bit closer to his chest" and that coaches will talk to him about better ball security.
One and done
Redd, who has been troubled at times this spring by tendinitis in his right knee, played only the game's first series, rushing three times for 12 yards.
Redd said that his knee was fine and that he understood why he didn't play more, but . . .
"I wanted to play at least the first half," he said. "It was rough to watch those guys and not be able to get back in there. But it's the spring game."
Defensive end Pete Massaro, who starred at Marple Newtown High, also saw limited action, but new defensive coordinator Ted Roof has been impressed with the 6-foot-4, 263-pound senior.
"Pete is a great, great, great worker and great leader," Roof said. "After a couple of snaps, there's no secret why he is what he is. He's a tremendous worker and I couldn't be more pleased with him. I'm just looking forward to him to continue to get better until he's 100 percent and we start the season."
Massaro suffered a torn ACL during 2011 spring practice and coaches were a little cautious with him this year.
The injury bug has hit the Nittany Lions pretty squarely at the linebacker position, and that's not counting senior Michael Mauti, who sat out the spring recovering from a torn ACL but is expected to be ready for the start of preseason camp.
O'Brien said senior James Van Fleet suffered a knee injury during one of the final practices and that redshirt freshman T.J. Rhattigan hurt his knee making a tackle Saturday. He said he did not know the exact nature of either injury but that "they don't look good."
Junior Khairi Fortt, who was in the mix for a starting linebacker job in the spring before getting injured, said on Twitter he had a dislocated kneecap and that he underwent surgery.
Under a special scoring system, the defense notched a 77-65 win over the offense, and that led to some good-natured ribbing after the game.
"Coach Roof asked me how I felt about the score," quarterback Paul Jones. "I told him they got half-a-point for every guy that ever touched the field on defense. There were some iffy calls. I don't think I got sacked this one time [worth four points to the defense].
"It's Linebacker U. Of course there's defensive favoritism."