July 2017 Archives
Penn State's newest freshmen are on campus and already on the climb ahead of the 2017-18 season. In a three-part series, get to know all three newcomers in a closer look at why they chose Penn State and what to expect this year.
Vitals - At 6 feet 8 inches tall and 220 pounds, it's safe to say the Pennsylvania native certainly isn't lacking in size. Calling Bloomsburg home, the power forward grew up less than 90 miles from Happy Valley, before finishing his last two years in high school at the Community School of Naples in Florida.
With size, it's obvious Buttrick brings length, but having also averaged 18.2 points and 10.8 rebounds per game with 17 double-doubles in his senior season, there's also shooting potential, especially around the perimeter. Buttrick also closed out his high school career ranked among the top five in school history with 873 career points.
In His Own Words - For Buttrick, who is the youngest of seven children with five brothers and one sister, Penn State is where he has always wanted to be. Building strong relationships with the coaching staff throughout his recruitment process, Buttrick committed to the Nittany Lions before even coming up the coast to visit, joining his older brother Christain, who graduated from Penn State three years ago.
"I'd been pretty familiar with campus, I'd seen it before and I had never seen any of the basketball facilities but I just knew this was where I wanted to go so I didn't have to visit," Buttick said. "This is the dream, I'm living the dream."
On Penn State Basketball - When Buttrick thinks about Penn State basketball, intensity comes to mind as he noted from the time he arrived, it's been all about maximum intensity each day. It's not entirely surprising that workouts are already completely different from anything he has experienced though.
"They are just intense every single day," Buttrick said. "You think they are going to keep getting easier but they keep pushing you to that breaking point and you just keep getting mentally challenging every single day."
CHICAGO - Signaling the start of the season with training camp on the horizon, Penn State Football made its annual trip to the Big Ten Conference Media Days, wrapping up the two-day event with a packed Tuesday slate of media obligations and interviews.
From photos and on-camera interviews to autographs and time with media members, seniors Marcus Allen, Jason Cabinda and Mike Gesicki joined head coach James Franklin for the trip, covering a broad variety of topics and storylines to look forward to headed into training camp, which begins in just a few weeks in Happy Valley.
Penn State kicked off a loaded day with breakfast at 7 a.m. before hitting the circuit for a full day. Check out 10 takeaways and storylines to keep an eye on from Tuesday's media sessions.
Built on Buy In
Franklin noted that some of his staff's best coaching came in the first two years of arrival, all setting the foundation for a year three buy-in fostered by success and a balanced sense of confidence that he says has his team in a pretty good place ahead of a highly anticipated 2017 season.
"I think one of the things that is significant is the relationships and the chemistry that we have in the locker room," Franklin said. "When you take over a new program, for us, we've all talked about this before - I was the fifth head coach, if you count interim, in 27 months. When you're asking players to buy into your system and they've had four other head coaches come in and tell them the same thing, that's not easy to do. We were able to work through those things and we're at a really good place right now where most of our locker room has only really heard one message and has bought into that message and I think there's so much value in that."
While there's certainly anticipation and excitement for Penn State's powerhouse duo of Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley, Franklin noted that he's also excited for the progress that has been made by those in front the two, having invested time and resources into the strength and maturity of a much improved offensive line, with veterans in Andrew Nelson and Brendan Mahon expected to return to lead the unit.
"We have depth and talent at that position that we're able to create a good situation," Franklin said. "When you're able to take a guy like Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley and combine their talents behind an offensive line that has a chance to be physical, athletic, with depth, it's a good situation to be in."
On The Set with BTN
Penn State's three seniors hit the Big Ten set for a live segment looking back on a historic 2016 season, giving a quick glimpse at what's ahead in 2017. Check it out below.
Replacing Chris Godwin
Penn State didn't lose much from its unprecedented and explosive offense from last year, but the Nittany Lions will look to replace the production of NFL Draft pick and 2,000-yard receiver Chris Godwin, who is beginning his pro career in Tampa Bay.
"I don't think that you can sit there and say year in and year out, you're going to hang your hat on being as explosive as we were last year," Franklin said. "You look at the 50-50 balls, that was kind of Chris Godwin's deal. He was as good as any guy I've been around, him and Jordan Matthews are probably the two best guys I've been around in terms of winning those 50-50 balls. If I had to guess, we may dip a little bit in the 50-50 balls, but I think we have a chance to be more efficient on first and second down."
Don't Count Out DaeSean
Across the board, Franklin and all three seniors unanimously agreed that DaeSean Hamilton is a proven veteran who Penn State could lean on for significant contributions this year. Called dynamic and explosive by Allen and primed for big season by Gesicki, Hamilton was abuzz when it came to who the Nittany Lions are excited to watch this year.
"He's one of the better workers on our team in terms of preparation, physically and mentally," Franklin said. "He has seen the highs and seen the lows and matured and grown through those things."
Both Franklin and Cabinda had high praise for defensive end Shareef Miller, who could potentially step in to fill gaps left behind by graduation and NFL departures from Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan.
"He's very similar in a lot of ways to Saquon Barkley in that since the day he showed up on campus, he has embraced everything that we've asked him to do," Franklin said. "He has gotten bigger, he has gotten stronger."
A Complete Tight End
We've all seen the upward trajectory of All-Big Ten second team tight end Mike Gesicki, most notably highlighted by way of some jaw-dropping catches. For Franklin, the next step is adding in the physical component, improving as a downfield threat as well as a viable option in the passing game.
From adversity to prosperity, he's continuing to work toward more progress headed into his final season in the Blue and White.
"Outside of play-making and big catches and touchdowns, I work extremely hard in blocking and I've come a long way in my opinion in being a more physical player and embracing the role of being a blocker," Gesicki said. "I'm excited for another training camp to continue to stay after practice and continue to hit the blocking sled until one day, I'm hoping that thing breaks."
Barbour Meets with the
By midmorning, Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour took time for a question and answer session. Following a few contract updates for a pair of Nittany Lion head coaches, Barbour touched on the success of the 2016 Big Ten Championship season as well as giving an update on the success of Happy Valley Jam and the future of concerts in Beaver Stadium. Listen in below.
Franklin: "It's a Fast Class"
With NCAA rules and regulations, Franklin noted that it's hard right now to have a strong opinion on the progress of the freshmen class, who arrived on campus earlier this summer. He did note though that from what he can take in, it's a class with some serious speed.
"I've been doing this 23 years and I don't know if I've ever had four guys who clocked on six watches, under 4.4," Franklin said.
While we'll have to wait for camp to see the newest Nittany Lions in action, Franklin noted that the current members of the roster will have to bring their best game with no doubt that the freshmen are expected to content for significant roles.
"The exciting thing is that we don't really need any of these guys to come in and play as freshmen but if they do, it's because they obviously are going to bring value and make us better," Franklin said.
Accessories on Point
From a Big Ten Championship ring to a colorful bowtie, Penn State's senior trio represented the Nittany Lions showcasing some of their best style in Chicago. Take a look.
Penn State's newest freshmen are on campus and already on the climb ahead of the 2017-18 season. In a three-part series, get to know all three newcomers in a closer look at why they chose Penn State and what to expect this year.
Vitals - Coming in at
six-foot-nine and 240 pounds, the Central League MVP and Philly News Second
Team All-Pennsylvania selection has all the physicality become a disruptive
force in the lane for the Nittany Lions. While he calls himself not always the
prettiest of players, the Wallingford, Pennsylvania native with a football
mentality noted he likes to get thing done.
From Football to Hoops - Once a tight end prospect and co-captain on the football team at Strath Haven, Harrar was originally committed to Army to play football, offered a year at the USMA Preparatory School to play football and basketball.
Drawing on trips to the historic Palestra to see future teammates like Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens, he changed his mind after taking a trip to Penn State.
"When I went on my football visits, it didn't feel like the visit I took to Penn State at all," Harrar said.
On a ride to Happy Valley with his coach in the car, Harrar's coach mentioned that he'd be working out with someone who might be roughly 23 years old and 270 pounds, causing a bit of nerves, but not the kind that he'd plan to shy away from.
"The workout went well, I competed and everything and then I went into coach Chambers' office and he liked me," Harrar said. "Our conversation that we had felt right."
Part of what made that conversation feel so right is what Harrar calls a sort of "Delaware County connection," having grown up just five minutes away from Chambers' hometown of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.
"I think he could see that we have similar upbringings, similar attitudes, the Delaware County attitude as people say," Harrar said with a smile. "It's really tough and we don't back down from competition. It's similar to Philly, it's grit, it's grimy."
Harrar waited only long enough to check in with his mom before committing to the Nittany Lions. Not too long after, an offer from UConn arrived, but his response was quick, he wanted to be at Penn State.
The Terminator - Harrar also already has a nickname, now called "The Terminator" thanks to assistant coach Dwayne Anderson.
"He calls me the terminator because I don't really talk on the court, but I always have a game face on," Harrar said. "Everyone else is talking smack and I'm just doing my thing and not really saying anything."
On Penn State Basketball - When Harrar thinks about Penn State basketball it's all about attitude.
"We have the word attitude all over the locker room, in the practice facility. Coach Chambers wants us to play with a good attitude, he always says negative energy, wasted energy, we don't want wasted energy."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's been a feel-good weekend for Penn State Football, culminating in the 15th annual Penn State Lift for Life at Holuba Hall. The defining event for the Penn State Uplifting Athletes Chapter, the anticipated event brings out members of the community for a fun-filled afternoon all benefitting fundraising for rare diseases.
While the competition features an entire team effort, the planning and logistics to put on the yearly event is also an essential team responsibility for 2017 Uplifting Athletes officers Andrew Nelson (vice president), Ryan Bates (secretary) and Tom Devenney (treasurer), with Jason Cabinda and Trace McSorley serving as co-presidents.
"It's an honor to be in a leadership position for Lift for Life," Nelson said. "Just knowing the effect that it has on the community and the rare disease community, which is a community that suffers a lot because there isn't a lot that they can do for them."
For McSorley, it's been an experience for sure, especially dealing with logistics involved with moving the event from its usual location at the Penn State Lacrosse Stadium inside at Holbua Hall.
"It's definitely something that I didn't know all of this stuff went into it," McSorley said. "I worked a little bit with it last year and it was an experience then but taking this step this year where there's a lot more planning and having to move it from the lacrosse field where it usually is into Holuba and really having to handle all of those things."
One of 22 chapters in Division I football across the nation, the challenge for each Nittany Lion elected into a leadership position is continuing on the tradition for those yet to come.
"A lot has gone into this," Cabinda said. "Luckily we have Scott Shirley (Uplifting Athletes Founder) who does such a good job of it all and really just helps guide me and Trace and the rest of the guys on the board like Andrew Nelson, to kind of get these things rolling and then pass it on to the younger guys so that next year it can be an even better event."
Cabinda and Nelson also attended the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Council in Philadelphia, bringing together chapters from around the country for a chance to meet and learn from each other.
"It was a really cool experience, being able to see what Uplifting Athletes is doing at other Universities, hearing their ideas, how they are implementing fundraising," Cabinda said. "There were three or four ideas from that weekend that me and Andrew Nelson kind of picked up and thought we want to implement those here."
We'll have to wait and see what Cabinda, Nelson and the rest of the Uplifting Athletes officers have planned for the future, but if there's one thing that's for sure, this year was certainly a success.
Take a look at three other intriguing topics from the Uplifting Athletes media session for a little preseason primer.
Accountability on the Mind
For Nelson, one of the themes of the year has been accountability, with vocal members of the team all stepping up to hold each other accountable on a day-to-day basis. For Cabinda, a clear leader on the defensive side of the ball, that type of accountability is the byproduct of a more seasoned veteran team, something that comes when guys start to feel more comfortable with the process.
"We have a lot of guys who have been here for years and they know how things are supposed to get done," Cabinda said. "It's easier to teach the young guys because you have so many guys who are leading by example, so many guys constantly putting in extra work, putting in the time that's it's going to take to be great. When you have that kind of culture already in place and established, it's easy for that to trickle down and translate to the freshmen."
Barkley Building on
One of those vocal leaders is Barkley, the returning Big Ten Offensive MVP who has certainly earned it when it's come to leadership, but it's not something that he took right to as soon as he arrived on campus.
"I wouldn't consider myself a leader when I was a freshman, I wasn't that vocal," Barkley said. "I think it comes as you grow and you get experience and get more comfortable with the guys on the team. It's harder to lead as a freshman. Obviously, everybody has leadership traits but it's something you have to work on. I always thought that you lead by what you do, coming to work, don't be late, do the right things. That's a way to lead too but you need someone to be vocal and we don't only have one vocal guy, we have about 25 guys and that's going to help us this year."
As Nelson put it, being one of the best players on the team doesn't necessarily make you a leader.
"Saquon has both of those intangibles, off the field as well," Nelson said. "He is a high character guy, a motivator, he cares a lot about his teammates. Naturally as time goes on he has stepped more and more into that leadership role and he's not afraid to be a voice on the team."
Perhaps one of the final team activities before training camp, Penn State will kick off the 2017 season in Chicago, taking part in the Big Ten Media Days, with the Nittany Lions set for July 24. Nittany Lions Mike Gesicki, Jason Cabinda and Marcus Allen will join head coach James Franklin at the event.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Gesicki said. "All of us being out there, between me, Marcus (Allen) and Jason (Cabinda). We all came in together, we're all in the same recruiting class, we're all really good friends. It's going to be a good time. It gives us a chance to go out there, answer some questions, talk about our team, our expectations and everybody can learn a little bit more about us. It's a huge honor that Coach Franklin selects us three to go out there, we're happy to do it."
For more details on format and performance snippets, catch up with assistant athletic director for performance enhancement Dwight Galt below.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For head coach James Franklin, part of the developmental process at Penn State means taking time to make a positive impact. True to Franklin's first core value - a single positive attitude duplicated by more than 100 came out in full force Thursday afternoon.
For the fourth consecutive year, Franklin and his 105-member team boarded three buses for a trip to Hershey for an afternoon visit at the Penn State Children's Hospital. From dancing to coloring, games and in-room visits, the Nittany Lions brought smiles to even the weariest of faces, even if just for a moment.
"It's a really good experience we love doing this every year," sophomore running back Andre Robinson said. "This is one of the cooler things that we do, getting to give back to these kids. It makes their day just for us to come and hang out for an hour or two. We're really privileged to have that opportunity to make that impact on their lives."
For both Franklin, the staff and the team, seeing pure delight stretch across the faces of so many is a yearly highlight. For Franklin though, it's something he has always considered a priority, inspired in part by those who gave so much to him growing up.
"There are people who have had much more challenging upbringings than me, but there were people who really made a difference for me and for my family, who went above and beyond and didn't have to, and I realized what's it has done for me," Franklin said.
The Nittany Lions were greeted in the Tree House Cafe where games and coloring activities awaited one group, while other groups split up to spread throughout different floors surprising children and their families along the way.
"It's awesome seeing their faces light up," Robinson said. "The kids will run in the door just to get in line to give us high fives. Things like that just shows us how much they appreciate us and how much we appreciate them having us."
Perhaps the biggest takeaway though has been perspective. From doctors clad in white coats to nurses, hospital staff, children and families, there's simply no way to measure the magnitude of the battle that each and every one of them is tasked with taking on each day.
As Franklin put it, there are of course battles on the field in the game of football, but coming into a place like the Penn State Children's Hospital pulls in perspective regarding those who are really fighting true battles every day, presenting an opportunity to both reflect and make positive impact.
"It's really humbling to walk through and see all these kids fighting every day," senior linebacker Brandon Smith said.
For Robinson, it's as simple as taking a step back from everyday tasks to focus on a bit of gratitude in the face of unimaginable challenges.
"It puts perspective on things," Robinson said. "Seeing these kids, we complain when we wake up at 5:30 in the morning to go work out, but what these kids go through day in and day out, it puts perspective on things it all really makes you think and be appreciative of all that we have."
*Note: Photos are numbered as they appear on the page from top to bottom
By Lisa Winters, Field Hockey
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Seven weeks ago, I made my way from Hershey, Pennsylvania to my study abroad base city of Florence, Italy. Since then, I visited 20 other Italian cities and towns, made incredible new friends and became closer with old ones, and fell in love with the culture that I got to experience and learn about through travel and class. I lived in an apartment in a residential part of the city with 11 other girls from Penn State and UConn, and was lucky enough to have an amazing roommate whom I had already become acquainted with through the Sapphire Leadership Academic Program in the Smeal College of Business, Sam Schmitt. We quickly became great friends and started going everywhere together.
One of our first, and still one of my favorite, experiences during our first weekend in Florence was going to a Fiorentina soccer game against Lazio at the Artemio Franchi stadium (Photo 1). Some of my other favorite moments were seeing Michelangelo's David in Florence, hiking between Vernazza and Monterosso in Cinque Terre, taking a boat into the Blue Grotto in the Amalfi Coast, shopping my way to the Duomo in Milan (Photo 2), and taking a gondola ride through the canals of Venice (Photo 3 - feat. Sam Schmitt).
I spent all of my weekdays in Florence for class, but even the hours spent in my Marketing and Food & Culture classes were far from an average experience. Learning about branding through visits to Italian companies was a much more engaging process than the typical classroom. From the Carrara marble quarry that provided the marble for the Pantheon in Rome and Michelangelo's David to the Pitti Immagine men's fashion trade show, there were so many different types of businesses that we got to not only hear about, but see for ourselves. And while we were constantly experiencing the food and culture of the country throughout our daily lives, having a professor who could take us around the food markets and to a beautiful sustainable garden was a great opportunity.
On our last night in Florence, a group of my new friends and I climbed to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sun set over the city (Photo 4). My parents had come for the last week of class, so after finals we were able to take off on one last trip to see all the historic sites of Rome together (Photo 5). So while I was sad to have the semester come to an end, I couldn't have asked for a better finale. The past weeks have been a truly memorable adventure, and I look forward to any opportunity to continue exploring in the future.
Penn State's newest freshmen are on campus and on the climb ahead of the 2017-18 season. In a three-part series, get to know all three newcomers in a closer look at why they chose Penn State and what to expect this year.
Vitals - Once committed to Duquesne, a coaching change meant that Wheeler would reopen his recruiting. From the family environment to the style of play, Wheeler was drawn to Penn State, later committing.
Now in Happy Valley, the point guard out of Gainesville, Florida is ready to get to work. Tabbed a three-star recruit and the No. 22 player in Florida, Wheeler has speed, quickness, energy and a competitive edge, which presents him as another complementing option alongside Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection Tony Carr. Wheeler is already taking advantage of the opportunity to get in the gym with Carr.
"I'm very competitive, me and Tone (Tony Carr) go at it every day," Wheeler said. "That's one person who is pushing me every day in practice, we're always going at it back and forth in workouts, drills, things like that."
In His Own Words - When coach Chambers first came to visit Wheeler, he said there would be no guarantees when it comes to playing time, but rather Wheeler would have to earn it and work for it daily in practice. While we've heard Chambers on this before, it's something that stuck with Wheeler on more than one level.
"That was something different," Wheeler said. "Most coaches say that you could come in and play right away, we don't have a point guard. Coach Chamber told me I'm going to make you better on and off the court, I'm going to make you a better man."
Alumni Relations - In an early May media availability, Chambers likened Wheeler's skill set to that of Nittany Lion alum and current Washington Wizard Tim Frazier, keying in on speed, athleticism and toughness, something he noted the Penn State coaching staff has already mentioned.
On Penn State Basketball - When Wheeler thinks about Penn State basketball is all about toughness, discipline and hard work - even some swag too. For Wheeler, putting in the work is where he thrives, noting that one of his goals this summer includes significant time in the weight room as he looks to put on additional weight.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It has been a little more than a month since Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour announced that Jeff Kampersal would take the reins of the Nittany Lion women's hockey team as the second head coach in program history.
Since his arrival on campus, Kampersal has been hard at work, securing his staff and of course, hitting the road recruiting.
Catch up with Kampersal for a closer look at what fans can expect to see in Pegula Ice Arena this year as well as a snapshot of what's to come for the Nittany Lions in terms of his coaching philosophy and what matters most.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State hit the streets in downtown Happy Valley Tuesday evening to hand deliver the newest edition of the 2017 poster.
The Nittany Lions boarded two iconic Blue Buses and headed downtown, arriving just after 6 p.m. to greet crowds on the street anxiously awaiting free copies of the 2017 poster. In an innovative twist, this year's poster features an opening just large enough for a face, for fans to pop their 'Game Face' using the hashtag #PSUgameface.
Walking down the streets for poster deliveries is a bit of a welcome first experience for true sophomore punter Blake Gillikin, who recalls being a young freshman this time last year.
"It's kind of surreal only a year after that as we're walking down here with all the support," Gillikin said
Following a standout season handling Penn State's punting duties Gillikin spent time this summer working with one of his coaches in Alabama, polishing up angles and sight lines, as well as a few mental aspects of his game.
"I've just been trying to focus on rounding out all of the aspects of my game," Gillikin said. "Obviously my job is to help the defense out as best as I can and that's what I've been focusing on going into fall camp."
During the spring season special teams coordinator Charles Huff noted that the Nittany Lions are in a bit of battle when it comes to holding responsibilities. While maybe not the most talked about story line of the year, it's something Gillikin has his eye on with options like Billy Fessler also in the mix.
"I've been holding a lot," Gillikin said. "I try to get snaps from a lot of our guys. We have three long snappers right now, two freshmen just came in. I've been taking a lot of holds from them and I've been getting really comfortable with Tyler Davis. Obviously I want to be his guy this year. I want to help out more."
Coming off of a productive spring season, sophomore wide receiver Juwan Johnson also enjoyed some time with fans, enjoying a moment to showcase his energetic personality off the field and without the helmet on.
"We're always behind the helmets and people don't really see exactly who we are or how we act, so just coming down here and walking down the street signing posters and giving out posters, it puts something in our hearts that we're making someone else's day," Johnson said.
For defensive lineman Ryan Buchholz, it's not his first time making poster deliveries, but perhaps still a little different this year.
"I had no idea this many people would come out, I was kind of shocked," Buchholz said. "The last two years we've just been kind of walking around sort of trying to give them to people, but this year everyone's asking for them, everyone wants them. I like the posters this year too how they are kind of interactive with the fans."
Penn State also paired up with the Nittany Lion Club and a few Penn State Alumni Association chapters will to host poster pick up parties in four cities, hitting Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Washington D.C.
Beginning with normal business hours tomorrow, posters will be available for fans to pick up at the Penn State All Sports Museum, the Penn State Bookstore and the Penn State Ticket Offices located at both the Bryce Jordan Center and Beaver Stadium.
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