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2016 Gameday - Penn State Opens B1G Slate at Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the non-conference slate wrapped up, Penn State hits the road this week traveling to No. 4/5 Michigan.

The Nittany Lions (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) head to Michigan (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) for a challenging Big Ten conference opener as the Wolverines prepare host Penn State in their fourth of five consecutive home outings in Michigan Stadium.

Quarterback Trace McSorley continues to leads the newly installed Penn State offense, ranked first in the Big Ten in passing yards and 20th nationally in the FBS standings. 

"I feel like the offense in general is really comfortable with running the new system with coach Moorhead and going through three games now we have a really good feel for the offense and how a game week goes from Monday to Saturday," McSorley said.

Among a host of offensive options that have continued to emerge throughout the season, McSorley found Chris Godwin for 117 yards on seven receptions against Temple. Godwin's 6.0 completions per game is also among the best in the Big Ten at sixth in the standings. DaeSean Hamilton joins Godwin highlighting the Penn State passing game as the duo has combined for more than 50 percent of the Nittany Lions' completions this year. Add in running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki, who each accounted for a pair of plays measuring at least 52 yards against Temple. 

The Nittany Lion offense will have to find a way to execute against a Michigan defense that's currently leading the FBS in third down conversion and red zone defense, while also ranked second in tackles for loss. Led by do-it-all Jabrill Peppers, the junior leads the team in tackles (28), sacks (2.5), tackles for loss (9.5) and is also leading the nation in punt retuning with 173 yards.   

Offensively, the Wolverines are fourth nationally averaging 53 points per game, guided by quarterback Wilton Speight. His targets include a combination of quick wide outs in Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh along with tight end Jake Butt. Between the three, combo is responsible for seven touchdowns on the year, with all three averaging at least 42 yards per game.

"They're just a big, strong, physical, mature team, and then they do have some speed aspects," Franklin said. "Jabrill does that for them on defense, special teams and offense. Their receivers do that as well as their tight end, (Jake) Butt. So it's a challenge, there's no doubt about it."

Penn State will look to new faces to lead the defensive effort this week, with injuries impacting the linebacker unit.

"We've adapted to the situation fairly well," linebacker Jake Cooper said. "I know that there's injuries around and it's the next man up mentality and we've taken each other under our own wings and we've taken each other accountable for our own positions and we're growing together as a unit. We're highly supportive of each other, we're a very enthusiastic group and I think that we're going to get the job done."

Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks stressed earlier this week that the Nittany Lions would have to trust their keys on defense to shut down down a dynamic Michigan offense that presents threats in both the pass and the run game.

"If you trust your key 99 percent of the time you'll be right," Banks said. "For the most part our keys are our keys and it's up to us to be extremely disciplined in reading them and then reacting to them."

Led by second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan will square off against Penn State for the 20th time in program history. The Wolverines have not dipped below the Top 10 in the rankings this year, completing their non-conference schedule with wins against Hawaii (63-3), Central Florida (51-14) and Colorado (45-28).

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ABC with Dave Fleming (pxp) and Brian Griese (analyst) and Todd McShay (sideline) on the call.

What To Watch For -

Penn State:
1. Penn State has continued to embrace the 'next man up' mentality, truly demonstrated last week by junior Brandon Smith, who stepped in at middle linebacker and finished off the day with a career-high eight tackles and a half of a tackle for loss. Smith will look to continue growing the unit, not only through leadership but effective communication, having confidently called the defense in the win against Temple.

2. James Franklin has stressed ball security throughout the season, as the Nittany Lions have struggled at times to keep the ball off the ground. Quarterback Trace McSorley noted earlier this week that although there have been issues, each has been correctable. McSorley said that specifically from the quarterback position, the key this week would be making the correct reads and taking time to be accurate with each throw.

3. Cornerback John Reid has not been under the radar on punt returns in the last few games, as his 8.8 yards per game ranks fourth in the Big Ten standings. Reid highlighted the Pitt game with his second career fumble recovery, while also registering a 59-yard punt return in the first quarter. He followed that performance with his first interception of the season against Temple to lock up a 34-27 Penn state victory.

Michigan:
1. Having made his first career start against Hawaii, Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight is averaging 228.7 yards per game with a 63.8 completion percentage on the year. Speight's best performance in the non-conference slate was in a win over UCF with 312 yards, completing 25-of-37 passes, adding four touchdowns for an all-around career-high effort. Speight sat out during the 2014 season before playing in seven games during the 2015 season.

2. James Franklin was quick to point out that Michigan would enter Saturday's matchup looking to establish their run game, mainly with a big, physical and experienced offensive line. 

"They want to establish the run with their offensive line," Franklin said earlier this week. "They want to run the ball. They want to play-action pass. They're obviously averaging a bunch of points a game."

3. All-American tight end Jake Butt has caught at least one pass in each of the last 19 games heading into Saturday's matchup. As Michigan's second-leading active career receiver with 107 receptions for 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns, Butt is coming off back-to-back games with a team-high seven catches for at least 86 yards against UCF and Colorado.

Final Word -

Penn State and Michigan are each among the most storied programs in collegiate football. Both programs are among the Top 10 in NCAA history in winning percentage in total victories. Michigan and Penn State also share some of the largest venues nationally, with both stadium capacities stretching beyond 100,000.

The Nittany Lions will open the Big Ten schedule at Michigan for the first time since 2007. Opening the 24th season of conference play, Penn State is 11-12 in openers, since defeating Rutgers, 28-3 in last year's opener. Penn State is 7-7 when beginning conference play on the road.

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions cross country teams will be traveling to Minneapolis, MN on Saturday, Sept. 24th to compete in the 31st annual Roy Griak Invitational. The invitational will be held at Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, MN.

 

The men's race is set to start at 12:20 p.m. CT, and the women's race is set for a 1:35 p.m. CT start.

 

The invitational was named after Roy Griak, a legendary cross country and track & field coach at the University of Minnesota. Griak coached the Minnesota Gophers for more than three decades, starting his coaching career in 1963.

 

Griak had coached three national champions, 47 All-Americans, 60 Big Ten champions and won three Big Ten titles as head coach.

 

Griak served on coaching staffs for more than 10 U.S. international teams, one being a head manager of the 1984 U.S. Olympic track & field team. He was also inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, the University of Minnesota 'M' Club Hall of Fame and was later inducted in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001.

 

After Griak retired as head coach in 1996, the University of Minnesota honored him by naming their annual cross country meet after him. Griak passed away in July of 2015 at the age of 91. This will be the 31st annual meet in his honor.

 

This will be the first time Penn State will be competing in the Roy Griak Invitational since 2011. Penn State has never taken a first place team win.

 

With six collegiate races and over 4,000 runners, the Roy Griak Invitational is one of the largest meets in the country. Along with Penn State and host team Minnesota, other Big Ten teams that will be attending are: Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers, Iowa, Ohio State and Northwestern.

 

The Penn State women's team is nationally ranked No.13, but there will be other nationally ranked teams attending the invitational as well. Other nationally ranked teams include: Boise State (No.6), Michigan State (No.9), Michigan (No.10), Iowa State (No.17) and San Francisco (No.20). 

 

"I am really excited," said senior caption, Julie Kocjancic about the upcoming invitational. "It's another opportunity to race against great competition."

 

As well as being one of the largest meets in the country, the course is the same course that the Big Ten Championships will be held at later in October this year.

 

"This course will be one that will really make people grind it out, which is what this sport is all about," said Kocjancic. "I'm excited to get to preview it, but Big Tens is still awhile away, and I just try to treat every race individually."

 

Kocjancic was a part of the 2015 Big Ten champion team, where the women's team took first place in Chicago, IL. She got 22nd place as a junior.  

 

The 2016 Big Ten Cross Country championships are set to take place on Sunday, Oct. 30th at 10:45 a.m. CT in Minneapolis, MN.

 

Penn State's next meet will be their very own Penn State Open back home on Friday, Oct. 14th at the Blue and White Golf Courses.

Tim Banks Q&A - Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions hit the road this week travel to Michigan to open the Big Ten schedule on the road Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (ABC). 

Leading up to the conference opener, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks spent time with the media on Thursday. Check out a few updates from the Q&A with Coach Banks.

On the assessment of a dynamic Michigan offense ...
Banks: I think just the overall perimeter speed and athleticism. It starts with Jake Butt, obviously an All-American type player, and he has shown it throughout the first couple of games. That will be the biggest challenge, having the ability to defend him at in the zone and defend him in some man situations. He's a big strong kid who runs routes very similar to a wide receiver. He's definitely a big threat that will have our antennas up.

Can you speak to the challenge that the safeties face Saturday in balancing and defending the run and the pass?
Banks: It's always a challenge. We have to be really disciplined with our eye, concentration and reading our keys and reacting accordingly. They make it difficult on you. They do a lot of things well in terms of how they run the ball and how again, as I mentioned earlier, getting Butt involved in the pro-game. We'll have our work cut out for us. It's definitely a balancing act and we have some things in our arsenal to be able to hopefully help our safeties with some eye discipline, putting them in some spots that we feel will make them even more effective.

Could you take us a little more in depth into the decision to move Koa Farmer to linebacker and as someone who has coached him, what kind of skills does he bring to the table?
Banks: The decision, just like every decision, was just in the best interest of our team and our defense as a whole. We're trying to get our best 11 out there in situations where they can help the team, being the quickest and the most efficient and he was definitely someone we felt brought value in that regard. He's also a kid who has played some linebacker in the past. We have some packages where he slid into that position and during certain situations in some of the earlier games, so it was really a smooth transition in that regard. 

As far as what he brings to the table, he's a really strong kid. He was actually a big safety. He's anywhere from around 215 to 220, but still obviously one of those fits extremely well at that size so hopefully he'll bring us some added speed and definitely a kid who is happy to be able to get some more playing time and help this defense and this team in any way possible.

From the coach's perspective, what do you see in Michigan's Jabril Peppers and what makes him so special?
Banks: Just super competitive, that's the first thing that jumps out to me. The way he goes about his business, whether it's kick return or whether I see him running the ball on offense or on the few snaps that I've seen maybe on TV with him playing on defense - just ultra competitive. Obviously his skill set speaks for itself, but just all the things they have asked him to be able to do to help their team. He just seems to be ultra competitive and you love to have those kids. It will be a challenge defending him when he comes out there on offense and we'll have our hands full, even on special teams.

As a Michigan native and then playing later at Central Michigan, what did you think of the Michigan program? Were you ever a fan and what was it like growing up there?
Banks: I don't think you can live in the state of Michigan without being affected by their brand and just their overall tradition. I've had numerous cousins and relatives who have graduated from there and I'm very, very familiar with the tradition. It's great and any time we get the chance to go there and compete against them, you know you're on the same field with a lot of great players who have come and having the chance to compete in that area is always exciting. I'm looking forward to the challenge, I really am. There will be a lot of fans there, they have a big stadium as we do and we're just looking forward it. For me personally, being back home and having the chance to to compete against a storied program.

How are some of your redshirt freshman doing, like Jarvis Miller, Johnny Petrishen and Ayron Monroe?
Banks: They are coming along, I'm super excited about the direction they are headed. They're big strong safeties who I think, in the future, will actually be exactly what we were looking for in the recruiting process. Jarvis Miller is doing a good job on special teams for us right now. He made a couple of tackles and is going hard. I think they're coming well. Ayron Monroe is practicing well and we expect to see some really good dividends out of him. JP is going to develop so we're really pleased with where they are now and the direction those guys are headed.

Can you talk a little bit about, you mentioned the strong safeties, being so big and strong - are they the type of guys who could possibly grow into linebackers at some point?
Banks:  We have some big safeties. Obviously, Marcus Allen is a bigger safety and I mentioned Jarvis Miller earlier. We like to keep them at safety if we can, we like big size and pick fast guys if they can run, but again, we're going to do what's best for our team and what's best for our defense. So at some point if Coach Franklin or Coach Pry thinks that the best thing to do is to move some guys around to bring more value to our team, I'm definitely open to it and I'm sure those guys will be as well. We talk a lot about doing what's best for our family and understanding what your roles are and I think our kids have embraced that. Right now as it relates, we don't see any of those moves on the horizon.

How would you evaluate Malik Golden and his play so far this season?
Banks: I think he's playing well. I think he has gotten better each day and as I stated earlier, I think he has gotten better. I think he'll be the first to tell you that he's playing at a more consistent rate, even from what he played last year. So I'm pleased, I really am. We ask a lot of our safeties in terms of communicating not only to the corner, but communicating to the linebackers and he's done a marvelous job of quarterbacking our defense. 

I'm wondering if Marcus Allen is one of the more unique personalities that you've ever been around as a coach?
Banks: Yes, he's fun to be around. He loves to play the game and the way he practices is exactly how he plays the game on Saturdays. Just having fun, flying around, always laughing - he's great. He's a pleasure to be around and you love guys that not only do they play hard on Saturday's but they play hard during the week of practice and that becomes contagious to the rest of the guys, particularly if you have a young group.

Mike Gesicki said yesterday that Nick Scott was someone who kind of pumped him up, helping him play his best and has been someone has helped him be his 'Best Mike.'
Banks: He is an energizer bunny. He's always up, he's always smiling and when you step between those lines he has great energy and great juice. On our special teams, he's always the first one down and he takes a lot of pride in his role on the team. He's a guy who went from running back to corner to safety and we feel like he has found a home at safety but just his overall energy that he brings, as I mentioned with Marcus, it just becomes contagious. He's great. That doesn't surprise me. I had not heard that, but it doesn't surprise me that he's that type of young man.

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By: Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Adjusting to the normal college life presents a challenge all its own. Trying to balance that with preparing to play Division I hockey is a huge commitment for Penn State's incoming freshman class. 

Eight new Nittany Lions will be joining the roster this upcoming season, and each one understands the hard work and dedication needed to succeed both on and off the ice.

"Being able to become a family right away with my teammates was huge," said forward Abby Welch on how she was able to adjust to college. "Right when I got on campus in the summer, all the upperclassmen were so welcoming and we felt part of a team."

Welch comes from a hockey family, with her three older sisters all playing in college. Two of her sisters played in Penn State's conference, the CHA, at Mercyhurst and Syracuse, and all three had a large impact on Welch's development.

"I've always grown up playing hockey. As soon as I could walk I was on skates," said Welch. "My three older sisters are probably the most influential to me.  Every time I skated with them, I would always have to prove myself to them. Having them around definitely got me to where I am today."

Welch already has connections with the Nittany Lions, as she played with senior Kelly Seward for the Nichols Vikings during the 2012-13 season.

For defenseman Caileah Forrest, the transition from Canada to the United States has been as smooth as she could have expected.

"The people are so nice and so welcoming," said Forrest. "Even though I'm away from home, it still feels like a home away from home." 

Forrest is one of four Canadians on the roster including fellow freshmen Daniela Paniccia and Amanda McLeod.

Katie McMillan, Brooke Madsen and Kate Rydland all made the trek from Minnesota to Happy Valley this summer, bumping the total number of players from the North Star State to 10. McMillan is one of five players from the same school in Minnetonka, a school that has won three state championships in the last six years. 

Pittsburgh's Olivia Villani is the lone freshman from Pennsylvania, citing the outstanding alumni network and women's hockey program as a whole as reason to commit to Penn State. Villani spent four years with the Pittsburgh Pens Elite program and a year with the East Coast Wizards of the NEWHJL before joining the Nittany Lions.

In the classroom, the freshmen are just getting started with the bulk of their coursework about a month into the semester.  They understand that there are big shoes to fill, as the team posted a 3.40 GPA and 17 Dean's List members in 2015-16.

"The new Morgan Academic Center has definitely helped a lot," said Welch. "We have so many opportunities to succeed here, and there's no reason we shouldn't. "Our coaches want us to succeed and our teammates will help us with anything. I know Caileah [Forrest] helped some girls with French since it's her second language." 

"It's been a little hard with the 6 a.m. conditioning, practice every day, lifting and everything, but our teachers are mostly all understanding," said Forrest. "Our coaches are really good with that and getting those study hours in really helped a lot."

Penn State has a scrimmage against Guelph on Saturday at 4 p.m. before opening up the regular season at Clarkson on Sept. 30.

Tori Gorrell's Unexpected Path

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By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When redshirt freshman Tori Gorrell was in sixth grade, she already knew that after high school she was going to attend Penn State. How did she know that she wanted to attend Penn State?

A Google search.

"When I was younger, I knew that I wanted to play volleyball at the top level, so I jokingly went to my dad and asked him who the best team was," Gorrell said. "He Googled it because he had no idea about volleyball, and it said 'Penn State.' The young me said, 'I'm going to go there.' When I got older, I looked into it more and talked to Coach Rose and the other coaches. Then, I came for a visit, and it was nothing I had ever seen before. It's a beautiful campus, Rec Hall is beautiful, the coaches were amazing, the girls were amazing, and that's why I chose Penn State."

Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Gorrell has a longer trip home than the typical Penn State student, while requiring a passport along the way. Her father, Miles Gorrell, is a former all-star offensive lineman who played in the Canadian Football League, but now works as a talent acquisition specialist for the CFL's Ottawa RedBacks. Despite his busy schedule, he organizes his commitments so he and Tori's mother can attend every match in Rec Hall.

"My dad and my mom both attend every home game as long as he's not working," Gorrell said. "It's like a five-hour drive, so it's not that far and they both have weekends off. My dad still works for a professional football team and unless he's at games, he's at every one of my games."

Even though Gorrell's father doesn't know too much about actually playing volleyball, he is always by her  side giving sharing advice. 

"He knew nothing about volleyball so he just had the athlete's perspective," Gorrell said. "He always comes up with these cheesy inspirational quotes for me and that's all we've gone off of, like last week, he said, 'Play every game like it's your last.' I always try to follow that." 

Before playing for the Nittany Lions, Gorrell helped her high school, Abbey Park, win the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association AAA volleyball championship, the Halton Tier I and Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference AAA titles. She also led the team to an undefeated season. 

Gorrell thought all of these accomplishments would allow her to play during her freshman year at Penn State, but she went on a different path and redshirted for the season instead.

"I think the [redshirt season] helped me tremendously," Gorrell said. "At first I was on the fence about it, but then I talked to other girls who were redshirted and they said it really helped them. So I just watched every other girl and learned and I think that gave me a better sense of what I can do to help the team and how to make the team more complete. I think doing the redshirt season was really valuable to me so I could become a better player and be a better teammate for these girls."

Gorrell adjusted to her unexpected position for the season by finding a role model on the team. Junior middle blocker Haleigh Washington soon became the teammate that Gorrell could rely on to help her feel more comfortable during that stage.

"My role model this past year would be Haleigh. She's a little crazy, a little funky, so Haleigh is definitely someone I look up to," Gorrell said.

Washington has been by Gorrell's side since she came to Penn State and can notably see how the middle blocker has improved. Her connection and timing with her teammates, especially Abby Detering, has gotten stronger as well as her steps on offense. But more importantly, Washington is happy to finally see Gorrell play in front of the fans at Rec Hall.

"She's a goon. She's so excited when she's on the court," Washington said. "When she does something big, she turns around and does a set move where her mouth gets really big and she's smiley and hyped. It's awesome watching her play. She comes off the court with her head in the game and determined. She's competitive and wants to win, so she's awesome to play with." 

Gorrell helped the Blue and White open up the 2016 season in the match against West Virginia. In her collegiate debut, she tailed six kills on nine errorless swings (.667), recorded two solo stuffs and led the team in blocks alongside Washington with three blocks each.

"Playing at Rec Hall for the first time was an amazing experience," Gorrell said. "I have been coming here for quite a few years and watching all of the girls on the court and just saying 'Wow, this is amazing.' Talking to girls like 'Yeah, playing at Rec is one of the greatest feelings you will ever have,' and stuff like that. I was excited to experience it. But then my first time happened and it's like nothing you could ever imagine...All the fans surround you and they're cheering for Penn State volleyball and the band is playing, the coach is talking, the other team is there and it's just super intense. It's a really amazing experience."

Though the environment been surreal at first, Gorrell is planning to leave her own mark on Rec Hall in the years to come.

"I would like to be the middle that the other team has to worry about. I don't want the other team to just send two blockers on another player. I want them to focus on me and not automatically think, 'Okay, the ball is going to the outside or the inside or the center.'  No, they have to be worried about me getting the ball and not leaving me right away when I get the ball. That's really what I want to focus on - being a threat to the other team."

Myers Preps for Return to Midwest

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - The Penn State Nittany Lions will be traveling to the Midwest for their matchup against Northwestern on Friday.  

Although field hockey is not a popular sport in the Midwest region, Penn State has landed a few Nittany Lions from the Midwest territory, including freshman Abby Myers.

In Myer's junior year of high school, she and her travel field hockey team competed in a recruiting event at the Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. Her team, from Milwaukee, was competing against New Jersey's club team. Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss, associate head coach Lisa Love and assistant coach Stuart Smith went down to the event to watch some of the girls on the New Jersey team who had already committed to Penn State.

"There was this girl, number 41, on the other team and I turn to Lisa and Stuart and ask, 'Did anyone from Wisconsin write to us?' and they said, 'No'" Morett-Curtiss said. "I said how good that number 41 was and we saw that she was a junior at that point. We were not really looking to fill the class, but when I got home and came to the office on Monday, there was an email from Abby. 

"It was not planned to reach out to Penn State," Myers said. "My dad went to Penn State and my brother is now a junior. I grew up going to Penn State. I went to all the football games, volleyball games and all the sporting events. My family definitely has that bias toward Penn State, but I didn't want that to be a factor when I was picking schools and it wasn't. They never pressured me at all."

In her email to Morett-Curtiss, Myers explained that she saw the three coaches at her game and that she also had a long history of Penn State alumni in her family including her brother who was enrolled at the University during this process. At the end of the message, Myers attached her recruitment video and said that she had hoped the spots for the 2016 class were not already filled.

"When she included the video clip I remember thinking, 'Wow, she's legit,'" Morett-Curtiss said. "I knew what I saw, but it's nice to back it up with video. So, we contacted her and it just so happened that she was coming to State College that upcoming weekend for her brother's birthday. What are the chances of that?"

Right after Myers' official visit that weekend, she visited two other schools, but it did not take long for her to know she wanted to be a Nittany Lion. Within a week or two of her visit, Myers committed to Penn State.

Committing to one of the top-ranked field hockey schools in the country was never something that Myers believed was possible after growing up in an area where the game of field hockey was sparse and the competition level was low.

"There are only about nine high schools with field hockey in Wisconsin," Myers said. "It's a really small sport. It's nothing like soccer. My high school was one of the nine teams that actually had a field hockey program and we dominated. We won the State Championship two out of my four years there." 

Myers had played soccer through elementary school but when she reached middle school, she wanted to try something different.

"I went to a very small middle school and they had a field hockey team," Myers said. "I played it just for something new. The team wasn't very good so it was hard to really learn the game or the fundamentals, but then I got into it more. 

Going into her eighth-grade season, Myers met a man from Wales named Tom Carter who recruited her to play club field hockey for his team in Milwaukee.

"I would go every Friday night and play. That is where I really developed my skills," Myers said. "He was coaching a select team at the time and I think I met him through my parents. A group of girls from my area would go as well and we would go 45 minutes to Milwaukee to play. He played in Wales and in college. He was also on the national team." 

Recruiting players from the Midwest is not common for Penn State. The former Penn State players from the Midwest area were all found through alumni connections, so for Penn State to find Abby was a rarity. 

I never thought I would be coming to Penn State because they were ranked fifth in the country," Myers said. "I was one of the best in Wisconsin. There were about two other girls who went Division one in Wisconsin. Then you come here and everyone is at that standard, even high school players. It's almost a slap in the face when you come here and really need to step up your game. It's definitely a good challenge to have."

"I think, for [Myers], the challenge is that she didn't compete against a high level of kids consistently like kids from New Jersey and Pennsylvania do throughout their club and high school careers," Morett-Curtiss said. "She's come a long way in just a month where she's competing against these kids. She's more confident and less tentative."

The freshman has been working on stepping up her game since she arrived at Penn State throughtout the summer to be ready to compete at an East Coast level for the reminder of her career. 

"I think that Abby brings a lot of versatility to the team," Morett-Curtiss said. "The other thing is she is a great person, a great student, she's easy going and she is feisty on the field. She's the total package."

Penn State will travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern Friday.  

VIDEO: Practice Updates - Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and tight end Mike Gesicki took time to meet with members of the media following Wednesday's practice. Check out updates from practice below. 

Penn State returns to the road this week, traveling to No. 4/5 Michigan to open Big Ten conference play Saturday, Sept. 24 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. 


James Franklin


Mike Gesicki

Hamilton Thrilled to be Back in a College Sweater

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After competing at Miami (Ohio) during the 2013-14 and part of the 2014-15 seasons, junior Trevor Hamilton will use his final two years of eligibility to don the Blue and White for Penn State.

As a transfer, Hamilton is already familiar with the speed of play at the collegiate level. A skilled defenseman, Hamilton will be critical in replacing the graduated seniors from last year's team who manned the blue line, Luke Juha and Connor Varley.

While Hamilton took a break from collegiate hockey he was playing in the competitive environment of the United States Hockey League. Hamilton played 56 games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks during the 2014-15 season and served as team captain. The following year, Hamilton played 32 games for the Lumberjacks, two games for the Chicago Steel and ended the season playing 23 games with the Lincoln Stars, including four playoff contests. 

"The USHL is a great league, but obviously college is a step faster," Hamilton said. "Guys are stronger, older and they're smarter. I felt like I was a little bit more ready to go back [to the USHL], and perform to my full potential."

Hamilton enjoyed his time with Muskegon, and is thankful for the opportunity they gave him to continue his hockey career. 

"Muskegon was a great place to go back to, it's close to home and I was able to see my family every weekend," Hamilton said. "[The Lumberjacks] welcomed me, they gave me a chance to pla, and I did what I could there and hopefully made progress for that program." 

The Michigan native is now eagerly anticipating this coming season and is ready to once again face down some of the best players in the country at the collegiate level. He is also looking forward to having consistency back in his life. Knowing where he'll be playing for the next two years is a reassuring feeling.

While Hamilton may be looking forward to having some certainty back in his schedule, fans should be excited to have Hamilton's work ethic and determination as part of the Penn State program. A fearless defenseman, Hamilton has been known to deliver hard hits on the ice. 

A self-described two-way defenseman, Hamilton believes he's more offensive-minded than the average defender, but is also capable of playing shut down defense.

"If we're down by a goal I can play offense, but if we're up by a goal I can shut it down and know my role and what to do with the puck and how to keep it out the back of our net," Hamilton said. 

Hamilton brings physical play to the Lions' blue line, which will compliment the style of play enjoyed by the program's established defensemen like Vince Pedrie, David Thompson and Kevin Kerr. 

"The last two years I've broken three fingers blocking shots and I haven't missed a game," Hamilton said. "I told the guys here I'd rather be on the [penalty kill] first than the [power play], since I like to block shots and do whatever I can to make the team win. If that means blocking a shot or scoring a big goal, I'm doing whatever I can to put the team on my back and lead us to a victory." 

2016 Tuesday Press Conference Roundup - Michigan

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Transcript: Franklin Transcript: Players |  Game Notes | VIDEO: Player Q&A with Derek Dowrey and Brandon Smith

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football head coach James Franklin addressed the media Tuesday afternoon to preview the Nittany Lion Big Ten opener on the road at Michigan.

Penn State (2-1, 0-0) and No. 4/5 Michigan (3-0, 0-0) will both open their respective Big Ten conference slates Saturday at Michigan Stadium. The Nittany Lions and the Wolverines are set to meet for the 20th time in program history, with Penn State opening conference play at Michigan for the first time since 2007. 

The Nittany Lions also enter their first season in a nine-game Big Ten schedule format after the conference announced in July 2013 that Penn State would play the six teams East Divisional opponents (Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Rutgers), in addition to three other West Division teams in 2016. The last time the Big Ten played a nine-game conference schedule was 1984.

As every week, Franklin opened his press conference with a review of the Temple game before switching gears to Michigan. Franklin recapped with positive emphasis on continuing to create explosive plays offensively. 

The Nittany Lions look to build on last week's effort, which featured three long yardage plays for at least 50 yards. Quarterback Trace McSorley logged two 52-yard completions, with wide receiver Chris Godwin grabbing the first reception to open scoring and tight end Mike Gesicki making the catch with one hand to put Penn State in scoring position the second half. Running back Saquon Barkley also helped widen a three-point Penn State advantage to 10 with a 55-yard scoring haul in the fourth quarter.

Franklin also had positive things to say about the depth and talent running back with Miles Sanders, Andre Robinson and Mark Allen all getting more opportunities against Temple following a short departure from Barkley during the game. Describing a strong, powerful and consistent effort from Robinson, Franklin also highlighted the quickness in Allen's game, which gave him the ability to leave defenders grabbing at nothing.

"I think you're going to see a series or half where you'll get those guys in," Franklin said. "And typically what we've been doing say the first drive, Saquon's in there, and he's tapping for Andre in the first drive. So now the second drive when he taps, he's tapping for Miles or Mark or whatever it may be."

Defensively, Franklin was quick to point out the leadership and confidence showcased by linebacker Brandon Smith, who totaled a career-high eight tackles and a half a tackle for loss in the win against Temple. With injuries providing opportunities for younger players to step up, Smith isn't the only Nittany Lion who has been directly impacted by the next man up mentality. 

Franklin also noted that this week he has safety Koa Farmer listed at sam linebacker behind Manny Bowen, who Franklin also said could be potentially moved around a little bit too.  

"It's a transition that we think is going to happen," Franklin said. "[Farmer] did it a little bit since he's been here. He was predominantly an offensive player in high school. We think his best position long-term is an outside linebacker."

Focus areas for the week continue to be similar to last week in terms of ball security and gap accountability. Those areas improve though by continuing to stress ball security fundaments and building confidence among some of the younger Nittany Lions.

"If you can find a way to protect the ball on the offense and create turnovers on defense, that is a huge momentum swinger in the game and creates more opportunities," Franklin said. "Same thing, if you look statistically at giving up big plays on special teams, blocked punts and things like that, it's hard to win if you do those things, so eliminating those things."

Penn State is 11-12 all-time in Big Ten openers and 7-7 when beginning the conference schedule on the road. Saturday's opener is set to kick at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.

On The Quote Board -

- Among those injuries at linebacker, Franklin noted that Wartman-White would also miss the remainder of the season due to an injury he sustained against Temple. Wartman-White was among the top five on the team with 14 tackles in three games, including 3.5 tackles for loss and a half a sack. 

"I feel for Nyeem because he's had two years in a row now where he's missed the season and has worked really, really hard and has had an unbelievable attitude from a leadership standpoint as well. 

- With the offensive line starting to come together as a unit, Derek Dowrey mentioned that the line will never be a finished project. Dowrey also commented on the progress the unit has made as a unit.

"I think it's just time playing together. A lot of us have been through this the last couple of years and I think we've been getting better steadily, but I think now it's starting to show on the field a little bit more."

- Brandon Smith never gets angry and he's never been to Michigan Stadium before, but he's no stranger to a hostile environment.

"I've gone to some away games that were pretty hostile," Smith said. "I think it just gets the guys even more excited sometimes when people are jeering you and mocking you and all sorts of things. You know, you can either get distracted by it or it can increase your intensity and your focus." 

VIDEO: Michigan Week Player Q&As

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUSports.com talks with Derek Dowrey and Brandon Smith, catching up on the season and previewing the Big Ten opener at Michigan Saturday. 

Brandon Smith

Derek Dowrey
 
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