June 2012 Archives

VIDEO: One-on-One With Assistant Coach Steve Aird

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nittany Lion women's volleyball assistant coach Steve Aird is counting down the days to the first match of 2012.

The newest member of the coaching staff officially joined the program on April 3.  After nearly three months on the job, GoPSUsports.com caught up with Coach Aird in Rec Hall to discuss a number of topics, ranging from coaching to the 2012 season.

Aird is no stranger to Happy Valley.  He played on the men's volleyball team from 1997-2001.  Additionally, Aird served as the Director of Operations for the women's volleyball team in 2007 during the program's first of four consecutive championship seasons.

The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team returns to action in early August for the start of preseason practice.  For now, watch a sit down interview with new assistant coach Steve Aird.


Follow GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

College Football Postseason Welcoming a New Look in 2014

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - College football will usher in a new four-team playoff system to determine its national champion beginning in 2014.

NCAA presidents approved the new system on Tuesday that will alter the landscape of major college football through at least 2025.  The four teams will by chosen by a selection committee.  Below are a number of specific details pertaining to the news that was released on Tuesday:

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- The selection committee will chose teams based on the following items - overall record, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, and if the team is a conference champion.

- The semifinals will be held at current bowl sites, and the national championship site will be up for bid.  The semifinals will rotate between six TBD bowl sites.

- One semifinal game will be played on New Year's Eve, and one will be played on New Year's Day.  The national title game will be played on "Championship Monday", the first Monday in January that is six or more days after the final semifinal game is played.

- The championship game will not be branded as a bowl game.

- How the selection committee members will be chosen has not yet been decided.

- How the revenue will be distributed has not been announced.

- It is expected that there will be no limitation on the number of teams from one conference in the four-team playoff system.

Tuesday's announcement was a milestone for college football.  Teams will have the opportunity to play their way into the semifinal games throughout the season, and the champion will be crowned by its accolades on the field in a four-team playoff system.

The selection committee will face a challenging task of selecting four teams to compete for the championship, but this is a great step for the sport.

Since 1998, the Bowl Championship Series standings have determined the teams competing in the national championship game.  Using the final regular season week of the AP poll as a guide, Penn State (10-1) would have qualified for a four-team playoff in 2005 as a No. 3 seed.

The Nittany Lions also went 11-1 in 2008 and played in the Rose Bowl, but whether or not they would have been in a four-team playoff would have been up to the selection committee.  Under the four-team playoff rules during the 2008 season, the selection committee would have been faced with picking four teams out of a top nine in the final regular season AP poll that included seven one-loss teams and two undefeated teams.  Below is the final regular season AP poll in 2008:

1. Florida - 12-1
2. Oklahoma - 12-1
3. Texas - 11-1
4. Alabama - 12-1
5. USC - 11-1
6. Penn State - 11-1
7. Utah - 12-0
8. Texas Tech - 11-1
9. Boise State 12-0

Under the new rules, the selection committee would have picked four of those teams and left five undefeated/one-loss teams out.  The story would have been much of the same in 2009 and 2010.  In 2009, there were five undefeated teams and one one-loss team at the end of the regular season.  In 2010, there were three undefeated teams and five one-loss teams at the end of the regular season.

The selection process will still be challenging, but the four-team playoff system is a positive step that will alter the face of college football.

The next two seasons will remain the same with the BCS standings selecting the two teams who will compete in the BCS National Championship game.  In 2012, the national title game will be played in Miami.  The final BCS title game will be played in Pasadena following the 2013 season.


Follow GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: 2012 Summer Series - Jordan Hill's Internship

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several members of the Nittany Lion football team are working at internships to fulfill degree requirements this summer.

Recently, GoPSUsports.com followed standout senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill on a hot, humid afternoon at his internship with the Penn State Golf Courses.  Hill's 12-week internship with the golf courses will fulfill his degree requirement in the Recreation, Park and Tourism Management program.

Hill does a little bit of everything at the golf courses, from maintaining golf carts, ensuring the golfers are properly hydrated on the courses to venturing onto the driving range in a "picker" to retrieve golf balls, and he even deals with some wildlife.  Here is the first in a 2012 Summer Series on Penn State football student-athlete internships.


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2012 Men's Hoops Non-Conference Schedule Taking Shape

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With Thursday's announcement that Penn State men's hoops will renew competition with regional rival Bucknell, the 2012 non-conference schedule is beginning to take shape for the Nittany Lions.

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The Lions and Bison will meet for the 100th time on Nov. 23 at the BJC, and the first since guard Mike Walker drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime to lead Penn State to a dramatic 63-60 victory on Nov. 21, 2006.  Dating back to 1963, the Lions have won 27 of the last 32 meetings and 11-straight against Bucknell.

Penn State's 99 previous contests against Bucknell are the fourth most against any team in program history, behind Pittsburgh (144), West Virginia (119) and Syracuse (105).  Coach Chambers has repeatedly said that it is important for the Nittany Lions re-establish regional rivalries, and you can see it forming in this season's non-conference schedule.

Penn State is slated to open its 2012 season (Nov. 9) with a game against regional rival St. Francis in the BJC.  Chambers noted that playing regional foes like Bucknell and St. Francis is great for fan interest and the players.

"The thing that I have learned is that it is important to play the local teams," Chambers said.  "It brings more fans out.  It's good because those kids are usually from that area, so it's kind of like a rivalry with the kids competing all summer long together in pickup or summer leagues.  I think it is good for everybody."

Additionally, Chambers wants to play regional non-conference games in Philadelphia annually and in Pittsburgh on a regular basis.  After playing downtown Pittsburgh in Consol Energy Center in 2011, the Lions will host Duquesne on the back-end of a home-and-home series with the Dukes this season.

Penn State's non-conference slate will be highlighted by a trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 15-18.  The eight-team field features 2012 NCAA Tournament participants North Carolina State and UNC Ashville and 2012 NIT participants Tennessee, Massachusetts and Akron.  Additionally, Oklahoma State from the Big 12 and Providence from the BIG EAST will be in Puerto Rico.

The Nittany Lions will play host to Boston College in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 28.  Look for Penn State's full non-conference schedule later this summer.


Follow GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Sanderson, Team Claim Well-Deserved BTN Yearly Awards

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions refrain from using the word dynasty to describe their run through the NCAA Wrestling world during the past two seasons.

However, claiming back-to-back Big Ten and NCAA titles speaks for itself.

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Penn State wrestling has set the standard for excellence in collegiate wrestling during the past two seasons.  On Monday night, Sanderson and the Lions were recognized on the fifth annual BTN Awards show with Sanderson being named Men's Coach of the Year and the squad honored as the Men's Team of the Year for their efforts during the 2011-'12 campaign.

When practice opened last October, Penn State began its quest to peak in the month of March.  Time after time after time Coach Sanderson and the wrestlers repeated the importance of wrestling their best at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis.

Penn State did just that by earning its second-straight national championship.

The Nittany Lions mathematically clinched their third all-time team national title inside the Scottrade Center before the final session took place. The Lions then put icing on the cake with three individual undefeated national champions on Saturday night.

Senior Frank Molinaro (149), sophomore David Taylor (165) and sophomore Ed Ruth (174) finished the 2011-'12 season with a combined record of 88-0, and all three scored well-earned national championships on wrestling's biggest stage.

With more than half of the team's starting lineup finishing third or better at the national tournament, and three national champions, Penn State lived up to its word and saved its best performance for last.  Of the six wrestlers who finished third or better at the national tournament, just one (Frank Molinaro) was a senior.

Whether he wants to admit it or not, Coach Sanderson is beginning to build a dynasty, just three seasons into his tenure at the helm of the program.  The Nittany Lions have a stranglehold on the collegiate wrestling world after dominating the field for a 25.5-point victory at the national tournament.

The team's performance at the NCAA Championships, alone, was worthy of the BTN yearly award, but the first weekend in March epitomized why this group is special.


Coming into the Big Ten Tournament, Penn State had a lot of pressure on its shoulders to repeat as conference champions following a stellar dual season.  Pressure or no pressure, though, the mindset of the Nittany Lions never changed on the mat.  Penn State wants to wrestle hard for seven minutes, and the wrestlers want to have fun doing it.

In doing so, the results took care of themselves.  Penn State was dominant in the dual season.  The Lions suffered just one loss (Minnesota), and it came before Thanksgiving.  Following that dual, the Lions rolled over their competition by a combined 418-70 in duals.

Session one of the Big Ten Championships proved to be no different when the Lions went 13-2 as a team en route to sending eight wrestlers to the championship semifinals.

However, the picture abruptly changed on Saturday night after a combined 5-7 team record in session two.  Suddenly, the defending Big Ten champs faced a 6.0-point deficit in the team standings after going 3-5 in championship semifinals matches.

With their backs to the wall and a Big Ten title run in doubt, the Nittany Lions knew going into Sunday's final two sessions that the margin for error was virtually zero.  Nonetheless, Coach Sanderson kept things loose and came into a team meeting after Saturday night's session smiling and upbeat telling the team that he could not wait to see how it responded to some adversity.

Penn State arrived with a calm, confident attitude on the final day of the tournament, and it showed on the three mats covering the hardwood inside Mackey Arena.  The Nittany Lions turned in a final session for the ages with 11-straight victories to close out a 15.0-point victory in the final team standings, thus clinching their second-straight Big Ten title.

All 10 starters on the Penn State roster won their final match of the tournament, exemplifying the importance of a complete team effort at one of the most competitive wrestling tournaments in America. 

"It is a big deal for all 10 guys to play a role," Sanderson said after winning the Big Ten title.  "It is a team effort.  They know last year came down to one point.  You just have to go wrestle.  You have to score points.  We had guys finish lower than they were seeded, and that is never a fun thing, but there is more to it than just winning.  When you are down, you have to keep climbing with your head up.  And that is what those guys did."

The competitive, yet enthusiastic, attitude the team possesses begins with great leadership.  Big Ten Coach of the Year Cael Sanderson is laid back as he sits alongside the mat, but he expects a lot out of his wrestlers.  They know when to have fun in the wrestling room and when to turn it on for competition.  Sanderson's expectations are simple - wrestle hard for seven minutes and have fun doing it.

You cannot discount the power of a team and coach when it puts team accolades ahead of individual performance.  That's why Penn State stood alone atop the elevated mat following the 2012 NCAA Championships and deserved the yearly BTN awards.


Follow GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Blog - Erica Denney, June 13, 2012

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This previous weekend we as a team were fortunate enough to help take part in helping out with the Special Olympics that Penn State hosts annually. On Friday night we were each given a flag with a Pennsylvania county name on it. As we waited with our flags by the BJC we watched as the athletes walked towards us from East Halls. As each group found the county they represented we paired up and started the parade to the baseball field for the games opening SO1a.jpgceremonies. My county unfortunately could not make it at the last minute so I had to make the parade walk alone, but Maddie Martin had the group that I had last year which was really cool because we all remembered each other and had a chance to catch up. It made me realize that not only was this just an amazing experience to be a part of, but it creates great long-term friends for everyone.

The following night we all went out by the field hockey fields and played grass volleyball with whatever athletes wanted to join us. They had volleyball, soccer, and basketball, even a dance area with awesome DJ! By the time the sun went down it really began to become a party with everyone showing off their own dance moves and memories to last forever.

All in all such an amazing experience to be a part of. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

 

Erica Denney

VIDEO: Meet Nittany Lion Basketball's D.J. Newbill

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a season on the sidelines after transferring to Penn State from Southern Mississippi, redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Newbill is ready to return to the court.

Newbill garnered the Unsung Hero Award following the 2011-'12 season due to his outstanding attitude and work ethic in practice.  He missed nearly two months after injuring his shoulder during the first week of practice, but returned to full participation in January.  Newbill is an aggressive defender and good ball handler with the ability to score in traffic on offense.

GoPSUsports.com caught up with Newbill in the Penn State locker room for some rapid-fire questions.  Take a look.


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A Closer Look at the Post-Spring Depth Chart

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Penn State Depth Chart - June 5 Get Acrobat Reader


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien and his staff spent the month following spring practice analyzing each position on the Nittany Lion roster.

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On Tuesday, Coach O'Brien revealed his first post-spring practice depth chart, which features 12 senior starters (seven on defense and five on offense) and 17 players with at least one start in their careers.  The quarterback and just a handful of other positions are set, as of today, setting up competition throughout the depth chart when the Nittany Lions begin training camp in 62 days on Aug. 6.

When camp commences, there will be first-team battles at wide receiver, left guard, middle linebacker and right cornerback.  Beginning at receiver, sophomore Allen Robinson and redshirt junior Shawney Kersey share the top line at one of the three wide receiver positions on the depth chart.

Robinson and Kersey are two players Coach O'Brien noted after spring ball for consistent progress and playing their best football at the end of the practice season.  Seniors Justin Brown and Devon Smith top the other two receiver spots, but Robinson and Kersey enter fall camp sharing the top line.  Overall, Penn State will have very good depth at the receiver position in 2012.

"We have guys with good hands," O'Brien said.  "We have guys who are smart, instinctive football players.  I feel pretty good about that group right now."

Moving to the offensive line, the starting spot at left guard will be up for grabs when camp begins.  Redshirt sophomore Miles Dieffenbach and redshirt junior Mark Arcidiacono are currently sharing the top line.  Like the receiving corps, O'Brien was impressed with the offensive line throughout spring practice.

"The benefits of having so many guys on the depth chart across the offensive line are No. 1 - if you have a health issue there really is not a big drop off to the next guy and No. 2 - you can keep guys fresh during the game, especially at the tempo we want to play with.  There are probably eight to 10 guys up there who can play."

At the tight end position, you will notice a Y and F listed.  In all, seven tight ends are on the depth chart.  Coach O'Brien explains the differences in the two positions below.

"The Y is your traditional big, blocking tight end and the F is your more receiving-type tight end who moves around," O'Brien said.  "Many of those guys, like Kyle Carter and Garry Gilliam, are interchangeable.  They can play the Y or the F.  That's why it is important to list all of those guys there.  They've all got a chance to play for us."

Across the board, Penn State is three or four deep at nearly every offensive position on the depth chart.

"The offensive philosophy that we have here is really about a lot of guys playing," Coach O'Brien said.  "The depth is definitely set at offensive line and quarterback, and running back to a certain degree.  But at tight end and receiver, it depends on what type of personnel grouping we are in - a one, two, three or four wide receiver grouping or a one, two or three tight end grouping.  We're planning on playing a lot of guys at those two positions."

On defense, middle linebacker and right cornerback are the two starting spots set for preseason camp competitions.  Juniors Glenn Carson and Khairi Fortt share the top line of the depth chart.  Additionally, sophomore Adrian Amos and junior Derrick Thomas are atop the depth chart at right cornerback.  Amos played corner as a freshman and safety during spring practice, but was moved back to corner for added depth at the position.

Two groups that have the personnel to stand out for the Nittany Lions in 2012 are the defensive line and linebacker units.  Both spots have experience, superb depth and a great deal of talent.

"Since the day I arrived here, the front seven on defense has been really strong," O'Brien said.  "Now, that being said, they have to go out and prove to us that they are as good as I think they are.  There is good depth on the defensive line with a good mix of young players and veteran players.  There is good depth at linebacker, as well, with four, five or even six guys who could play there.  I think the front seven is one of the strengths of this football team."

Penn State kicks off the 2012 season with the Ohio Bobcats on Sept. 1, marking the first of 10 bowl teams on the slate for the fall.


Follow GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Chambers, Coaches Vs. Cancer Leading a Fight for a Cure

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Attitude is the name of the game for everything Patrick Chambers does.

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He and the Nittany Lion basketball program live by the motto of approaching adversity with a choice.  You can either face challenges with a positive attitude or dwell on them with a negative attitude.

For Coach Chambers, that choice is easy, and it goes far beyond the score of game on the court.

Friday's 16th Annual Coaches Vs. Cancer Golf Tournament was living proof of that.

Chambers was hired on the day of the CVC golf outing one year ago, so Friday was his first taste of the outstanding event held at the Penn State Blue and White Golf Courses.

"It is a class event, a premier event," Chambers said.  "You see how it is run, you see the sponsors, you see how it is organized - it is amazing.  There is pressure on you to keep it going, to keep it fresh and to make sure you are out front.  I want to be involved. I am going to be here.  I am in this for the long haul.  We want to keep it this way - first class and with the community so involved.  It is very important to me."

Chambers underwent a planned high tibial osteotomy on his left knee in May, and was therefore unable to play in the tournament.  The surgical procedure included a re-fracturing of the lower leg, cleaning of the knee, insertion of a bone wedge to straighten out his knee in order to distribute weight better to the outside of the knee.

Because he is on crutches for another five weeks (three weeks in his mind because he is an optimist), Chambers was limited to a seat outside of the clubhouse or a golf cart at the CVC Tournament.  But it didn't matter.  Limited mobility or not, Coach Chambers' enthusiasm is infectious.

Chambers has the perfect attitude to lead a fight against a deadly disease, largely because he truly never gives up.  He invited several Penn State head coaches, including Bill O'Brien, to be a part of this year's golf tournament.  Coach O'Brien jumped at the opportunity to help the cause.

"I am very honored to be here," Coach O'Brien said.  "I have formed a bond with Patrick Chambers.  He asked me to come over to this, and I couldn't be more honored to be here.  It's for a great cause."

The CVC event hits O'Brien on a personal level.

"It hits close to home for myself because my mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor, so cancer hits really close to home for me and hopefully I will be here every single year," O'Brien said.

The CVC Golf Tournament is the flagship event of the organization created to raise funds year-round to support the American Cancer Society affected by the disease in Centre County through the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund (BCAF).  In addition to the golf tournament, Coaches Vs. Cancer conducts a year-round calendar of seven events.

The golf tournament has more than doubled in size since it began in 1996-'97, and there could not be a better man to continue leading the CVC fight at Penn State than Coach Chambers.


To get involved as a sponsor or participant in Penn State Coaches Vs. Cancer please visit CVCPENNSTATE.ORG or call 814-330-3337.


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VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Addresses the Media - June 1

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien met with the media at the 16th Annual Coaches Vs. Cancer Golf Tournament.

In addition to making the announcement that Matt McGloin will be the starting quarterback entering the 2012 season, Coach O'Brien told the media why the CVC event hits close to home for him.  His mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor.


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Coach O'Brien Tabs McGloin as Starting Quarterback

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Early on Friday morning, Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien informed the squad members in town for the summer that senior Matt McGloin would be the starting quarterback entering the 2012 season.

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Coach O'Brien confirmed the news while addressing the media before teeing off at the 16th Annual Coaches Vs. Cancer Golf Tournament, hosted by Nittany Lion basketball head coach Patrick Chambers, at the Penn State Blue and White Courses at mid-day on Friday.

O'Brien cited McGloin's consistency running the offense throughout spring practice as the driving force behind his decision to name the Scranton native the starter heading into the season.

"He (McGloin) was the most consistent guy throughout the spring," Coach O'Brien said.  He has good command of the offense at this point.  He's a tough kid.  He's a competitive kid.  He's shown good leadership qualities.  I just felt like he is the No. 1 quarterback."

O'Brien repeatedly said throughout the spring that no group faced a steeper learning curve during spring practice than the quarterbacks. Learning a new offensive language, commanding the offense at the line of scrimmage while reading the defense and practicing at a swift pace were all challenges for McGloin and the rest of the quarterbacks during their first spring under the direction of O'Brien. McGloin improved each day and played the best football of the spring at the end of the practice season and ultimately earned the starting assignment, which sent the fiery competitor into the summer with a great deal of confidence.

"It's definitely beneficial for me," McGloin said.  "All of my focus over the next three months can be on the playbook, working on my mechanics, strength and conditioning and throwing with the guys. It feels great, but I also understand that I need to work harder than ever in getting ready for the season."

O'Brien added that it was very important to make the decision prior to training camp.

"When you go into training camp you have to make sure that one guy is getting the bulk of the reps," Coach O'Brien said.  "You don't have time to give three guys equal reps.  Also, in the summertime when the coaches aren't allowed to be around, you need to have leaders on both sides of the ball.  Matt, being a quarterback, is a leader on the offensive side of the ball...Mostly, it's because you have to get one guy ready to play.  You can't get three guys ready to play.  And it's really hard to get two guys ready to play.  So you have to have a starter, and then you go from there."

McGloin had chills running through his body as he sat in the squad room at the Lasch Football Building listening to his new head coach talk about the quarterback position when he addressed the team for the first time on Jan. 8. From that moment forward, McGloin knew that it was time to work. He spent countless hours studying Coach O'Brien's playbook and watching film of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to prepare for the start of spring practice.

The former West Scranton HS standout started the final five regular season contests and played in 12 games in 2011. The talented signal-caller completed 54.1 percent of his passes (125-of-231) for 1,571 yards and eight touchdowns, last season, with five interceptions. McGloin enters his fifth-year senior season having made five starts in each of the past two seasons.  He graduated in May with a degree in journalism and is working on a second degree in telecommunications.

"It's great to have my degree," McGloin said.  "I don't feel like it's really sunken in yet. I'm proud that that I have a degree from Penn State and my family is proud of that."

On the field, Coach O'Brien said that consistency in numerous areas pertinent to success at the quarterback position separated McGloin during the spring.

"His completion percentage, getting us in and out of the right plays, knowledge of the offense, being prepared in meetings, cutting down on his interceptions as spring ball went on," Coach O'Brien said.  "He completed about 65 to 70 percent of his passes during the spring.  He ran some of our situational stuff pretty well.  He just did a very good job of being consistent."

Coach O'Brien also noted that sophomore Paul Jones is the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart.  Junior Rob Bolden is on campus working out with the team this summer.

As for the rest of the depth chart, Coach O'Brien said that the full depth chart could be out as early as Tuesday.  Running back Curtis Dukes is working out with the team this summer.  Curtis Drake is no longer with the football program.

McGloin will be the leader of the Penn State offense on the opening day of training camp when the Nittany Lions take the field on Aug. 6.

"The team has never been closer than we are right now since I've been here," McGloin said.  "Everyone is working really hard."


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VIDEO: Football Coaching Staff Set to Kick Off Camps Saturday

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion football coaching staff will begin instruction at the first of five summer camps on Saturday at the Lasch Football Complex.

On Saturday, and again on June 16, Penn State will host an Advanced Skills Camp open to students entering grades 10-12.  The main focus of the Advanced Skills Camp is placed on position-specific skill and technique development.  The no-pad, no-helmet one-day camps feature instruction in eight individual positions: quarterback, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and defensive back.

In addition to the two dates for the Advanced Skills Camp, Penn State Football will host a Kicking Camp (June 17), a Youth Camp (June 24) and a Position Camp (June 28-30).  For information on all of the summer football camps and registration, please visit the Penn State 2012 Sport Camps website: http://www.gopsusports.com/camps/fb-camp.html

Prior to Saturday's first camp of the summer, GoPSUsports.com caught up with running backs coach Charles London for some insight on what goes into camp preparation and more.


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