STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Could this be the year for Knowledge Timmons?
Since his arrival at Penn State in the fall of 2005, Timmons has been talked about often, but he has yet to make a significant impact on the defensive side of the ball.
On special teams, he's been a demon. As a gunner for the punt coverage team, Timmons has made many high-impact plays with his blazing speed.
In 2008, Timmons racked up a total of 15 tackles, mostly on special teams, and one interception as he served as Penn State's backup to Mark Rubin at the hero position. This year, Timmons is poised to become a starter at left cornerback. The question is whether or not he can find his way into a groove as a mature player.
"I think he has a chance of being good, but he's got a way to go yet," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. "The ways he has to go is not work habits. He's tough, he tackles, he does a lot of things. With how today's game will be played, people all over from sideline to sideline, you really have to be a student of the game. He hasn't taken that on yet."
Blessed with the size and speed of what was initially considered NFL-type potential, this is really Timmons' final chance to assert himself as the player he wants to become. Timmons said he was fully aware of the sense of urgency he needs to have going into the 2009 season.
"Yes, it is my last year," he said. "I am either going to continue to play football in the NFL or my football career will be over after this year, and I don't want my career to be over. There is a crazy sense of urgency."
For Timmons, that meant an intense winter workout session and spring practice. Solely focusing in on his cornerback skills, Timmons made his best effort at accomplishing the things Paterno zeroed in on for him.
"I got stronger, faster and worked a lot on my cover skills," Timmons said. "I became more of a student of the game. I watch film and watch other guys on the team practice. I put a lot more effort into this spring than my past four seasons. I think I am going to be ready for the season."
Yet, as Paterno said, the issue with Timmons isn't about his athletic abilities. If he can master the nuances of the position, Timmons clearly has the potential to be successful at cornerback.
"I think when he gets to understand what people are trying to do with different formations and different splits; wideout all the splits you have to look for the slant, if the wideout doesn't over split you have to look for the paint, things like that make the difference at being a good defensive back," Paterno said. "Things that give you that extra step in order to make big plays. He hasn't got that yet. I'm on his back all the time about doing some homework."
BlueWhiteIllustrated.com publisher Phil Grosz contributed to this report.