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Behind the Scenes: Generations of Greatness

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was mid-June when Penn State unveiled plans for its Generations of Greatness game, now just a few days from arrival. Highlighted of course by a custom uniform design incorporating select pieces and elements representative of a proud tradition, the throwback transformation doesn't just begin with pulling on new threads.                  

While the program remains focused on Indiana, there's still a bit of excitement surrounding an entire game dedicated to honoring those who have come before them.

"It's really fun, actually trying on some new uniforms and build something that everyone can enjoy is very exciting and something exciting to see," wide receiver Juwan Johnson said. "I want to see myself in the uniform. It's going to be something different, something new and refreshing for everyone to see." 

Early this week, the Nittany Lion equipment staff began the process of swapping out traditional game day uniforms to those with custom elements featuring jerseys with block numbers, white trim on the sleeves and a Nittany Lion shrine icon anchored on the front collar, just to name a few.

Among blue-striped pants, striped socks and glove changes, game day helmets also underwent a transition this week, as equipment staffers unscrewed blue facemasks to replace with gray facemasks, originally worn by the Nittany Lions from 1959-86. Helmets were also carefully numbered, representing an element on display from 1959-61 and later from 1967-74. 


Perhaps an element that's most popular among the team though, the white cleats, needed a bit more than week-of transitioning. 

"I've never really worn white cleats before, ever," Johnson said. "So I'm actually wearing some white cleats for once and it's kind of fun, it will be interesting to see."

Penn State has actually already tested out its Generations of Greatness cleats, allowing ample time for each Nittany Lion to adjust to a crucial piece of game day gear well in advance. 

"It feels really good, we have them on in Sunday practices, trying to break them in and get a feel for them to try to showcase them on Saturday," Johnson said. 

As early as last week, Penn State facilities and groundskeepers began the process of switching the end zones at Beaver Stadium to reflect a throwback diamond pattern. Leaving time to old paint to grow out before maintenance, diamond designs appeared on the end zones early this week.


As Penn State assistant marketing athletic director Brad Keen noted on reveal day, going beyond the ultimate throwback uniform means transforming game day into the ultimate throwback game experience.

Behind the scenes, Keen and his staff have been responsible for game day Generations of Greatness elements including everything from scoreboard design and music selection to lining up honorary captains. 

"For the playlist, we went through every year from the 1940's, '50s, '60s, '70s and took a look at the top 10 songs from each year," marketing manager PJ Mullen said. "We obviously can't get to every song, but I have all of top songs from each decade in a folder to be able to mix in throughout the game, whether it's during timeouts, transitioning into breaks or other areas like that."

Working alongside venue display partner ANC, Penn State drew inspiration from a variety of throwback looks to craft a unique retro design to illuminate the scoreboards in Beaver Stadium. Now approved and ready to go, standard run throughs on Wednesday and Friday will provide a last look before game day.

Outside of the football team, Penn State's cheer and dance teams will don historic uniforms, with the Blue Band set to compliment with music selections spanning the generations. 

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