Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to track down
all available information on Penn State's football team,
starting with sophomore running back Curtis Enis. This will not
be an easy assignment. Although Enis played in front of 94,000
people at Beaver Stadium, he was forbidden by Penn State
freshman rules to speak to the media. So information is scarce
on the 19-year-old who gained 955 all-purpose yards with an
eye-popping 6.0 yards per carry.
This we do know: The 6'3", 230-pound back is from Union City,
Ohio, and he earned the state's Mr. Football award after rushing
for 2,764 yards and scoring 39 touchdowns as a senior at
Mississinawa Valley High in 1993. The following year, after
failing to score the NCAA-required 17 on his ACT, he attended
Kiski Prep in Saltsburg, Pa.
Enis actually made four tackles as a Nittany Lions linebacker
before switching to tailback, where he became the first true
freshman to lead Penn State in rushing since D.J. Dozier in
1983. En route to being named the co-Big Ten freshman of the
year, he drew comparisons to former Penn State running back
Ki-Jana Carter, now with the Cincinnati Bengals. After Enis
gained 132 yards on 14 carries in the second half against
Temple, Penn State coach Joe Paterno relaxed his rules, allowing
Enis one chance to meet the media. Alas, Enis would disclose
only that he had a lot to learn. So he, like most of Penn
State's young and inexperienced offense this year, remains
something of a mystery.
Senior quarterback Wally Richardson is a different story. He led
Penn State to four fourth-quarter comebacks and capped 1995 with
an Outback Bowl-record four TD passes as the Nittany Lions
finished 9-3 and ranked 12th in the nation. Senior tight end
Keith Olsommer is the only receiver with more than 13 catches in
'95 who will be back. And 6'2", 290-pound senior center Barry
Tielsch is the lone returning starter on the line--one reason
why another run at the Rose Bowl may be impossible for the
Lions. "I think we have to just about start over," says Paterno.
"Particularly on offense."
Not so on defense, where nine starters return to a unit that
finished fourth in the Big Ten against the rush (128.2 yards per
game) in 1995. Joining the front line will be 6'5", 330-pound
sophomore tackle Floyd Wedderburn, who missed all of last season
with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Former
walk-on Gerald Filardi is back at inside linebacker after
averaging 10.2 tackles per game during his junior year. Two-time
All-Big Ten senior cornerback Brian Miller, who led the team
with five interceptions and the league with 19 pass breakups, is
one of 10 returning lettermen in the secondary.
With that kind of talent on defense, the Nittany Lions shouldn't
self-destruct in '96, even if the young offense struggles.