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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - Although being recognized as the Big Ten Player of the
Week is a tremendous achievement, it's not the main focus of sophomore Lexi Knief, who is more concerned with
her team and the future of Penn State softball.
"It's really humbling to be
recognized by the Big Ten Conference, but I think the most important thing this
week was winning the games and getting our groove back," Knief said.
The sophomore is coming off
a spectacular week in which she went 10-for-18 at the plate in five games,
registering three extra-base hits.
Additionally, Knief leads the Nittany Lions this season in a number of
statistical categories including batting average, runs, hits, triples, and
While her award, which is
the first Big Ten Player of the Week recognition of her career, is an
incredible accomplishment, Knief was quick to credit her teammates, as was her
coach, Amanda Lehotak.
"I'm just happy for her and
the team," Lehotak said. "I always tell them that no one gets
recognized without everybody. I think
it's a great representation of the program and where we're going as a program. I'm happy for Lexi because her work ethic
from day one has been exactly what we demand and what we expect. It's always fun when your kids get that honor
and to see the smile on their faces."
"I loved her response,"
added Lehotak. "I called her and
congratulated her, and her response was, 'Yeah, but we've got to sweep
This week is not the first
time the Nittany Lions have seen impressive contributions from Knief. She has been a driving-force for the team all
season long and has even been dubbed the team's "biggest competitor" by her
This competitive nature has
been driven into the centerfielder since the start of her playing career. Beginning with her Red Sox T-ball team, which
was coached by her mom, Knief has been proving her dedicated to the sport for
When it came time to play
collegiately, it took only one visit for Knief to decide her future.
"Penn State is only four
hours from my house, and Coach Petrini and Coach McIntyre were recruiting me,"
said the sophomore. "They were like,
'Just come out for a visit.' I came out,
and once I stepped foot on the campus, I knew I wanted to come here."
This season, Knief has truly
demonstrated that she is never willing to give up. Even when dropping down in the count, the
centerfielder shows the opposition's defense that she is and will always be a
"I'm just really calm at the
plate," Knief said. "I go in with the
mentality that I'm better than the pitcher, and I just stay in sequence."
The sophomore's spectacular
performances throughout the past five games have also been a key piece to the
Lions' four-game winning streak. These
wins have enabled a new, far more confident team to emerge.
While Lehotak is quick to
admit these wins were not all pretty, it is safe to say Penn State is headed in
a positive direction. With the pressure
to win its first Big Ten games evaporated, the team can now focus on growth and
"I definitely think
confidence will help," said Lehotak.
"Now the monkey is off their back.
I kept telling them, 'The strongest part of your schedule is over
with. You know, they're beating
everybody.' Now, that fighter mentality
is starting to come out in them, and I think they see that they can do it. They know that they can do it. I expect them to just keep building."
As far as improvements are
concerned, Lehotak still feels the team can make adjustments in the area of
pitching. Nevertheless, she also
recognizes the progress that has been made since the beginning of the season.
"They're making strides, and
they're learning," said Lehotak of the team's pitching staff. "Even though I've been picking on them in
some statistical categories, they are getting better. This team is just a bunch of fighters. They're not quitters, and they want it."
Headed to Indiana this
weekend, the team, including Knief, is looking to continue its success. The Hoosiers have posted an 11-27-1 overall
record so far this season, going 3-8 in the Big Ten conference. With the Lions' 3-6 conference record,
competition is sure to be high.
"We have to just continuing
putting pressure on their defense, and our pitching staff did a great job last
weekend," Knief said. "If they can go
out and do the same thing in Indiana, we'll be golden."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Developing a strong rapport between receivers and their quarterback is
essential for a successful passing game.
For sophomore Geno
Lewis, he started the chemistry building process on the field with Christian
Hackenberg last August, but the duo came on strong during the latter weeks of
the 2013 season.
With increased playing time, Lewis gained confidence and played his best
football in the season finale at Wisconsin.
The Wilkes-Barre native connected with Hackenberg three times for 91
yards, including 59-yard touchdown reception and a 1-yard score, in the 31-24
win over the Badgers.
Since that day, Lewis has not looked back and is ready to play a big role on
the offense in 2014.
"This spring has gone really well for me," Lewis said. "Christian and I are really seeing eye to eye
now. I definitely worked on a lot of
things that I needed to work on, but I am really excited for the season."
Albeit just a redshirt sophomore, Lewis is the top returnee on the receiving
corps. Playing in all 12 games last
season with four starts, Lewis made 18 receptions for 234 yards and had three
touchdowns. Sophomore Richy Anderson,
who had 13 catches for 111 yards and junior Matt Zanellato, who made four
receptions for 53 yards, are the only other two receivers on the roster with career
With youth throughout the receiving corps, Lewis knew that he needed to step up during the
offseason to become a go-to target for Hackenberg.
"My main thing (during the winter) was route running," Lewis said. "With Coach Gattis coming in and teaching us
some new things, it really helped me a lot transitioning out of my routes (with
more speed). I think that is going to be
a big change for me this year in my routes."
Two-time Big Ten Receiver of the Year Allen Robinson and graduated senior
Brandon Felder are gone from the roster, and Lewis views 2014 as a great
"I'm happy to be in this position, a higher spot than last year," Lewis
said. "I'm confident in going out there
to make more plays to help the team win."
A gifted athlete with good speed and great jumping ability, Lewis's athleticism
has impressed head coach James Franklin during spring practice.
"I've been very
pleased with him. He's a big bodied kid with great ball skills, tremendous
leaping ability, been very impressed with him in red zone and long ball
situations," Franklin said. He's a great kid, working hard, him and hack are
starting to build a rapport and that's got to continue to grow. Between now and
start of summer camp, he has to take that next step."
With 13 spring practices down, the Nittany Lions will hold a session on Friday
before the culmination of spring drills during Saturday's Blue-White Game in
"I'm really excited for the game, I know that my teammates are," Lewis said.
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
Pa. - The Penn State men's gymnastics team made its way to the NCAA Gymnastics
Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Tuesday morning. The No. 6 Nittany Lions
will compete in the second session of the NCAA qualifying round Thursday at 7
p.m. and the team championship rounds Friday and Saturday.
Head coach Randy
Jepson and his team are looking to capture the program's 13th
national title, something he says they have been "working toward since the end
of last season."
"This tournament is
three days long," Jepson said. "Anything can happen."
The 2013-'14 Season
Since the December
12 Blue-White Showcase, the men's gymnastics team has only lost one scheduled
meet and has placed in the top three of every tournament they have competed in.
performances from seniors Adrian Evans, Wasef Burbar, Preston Gall, and Ingvar
Jochumsson, juniors Tristan Duverglas. Matt Felleman and Craig Hernandez, and
sophomores Alexis Torres and Trevor Howard, the team has been able to overcome
minor setbacks. The Nittany Lions have remained steadfast despite pre-season
injuries, making changes to the starting roster along the way.
"It is very
rewarding to see the guys do such a great job," Jepson said. "Our seniors have
done a great job of teaching the younger guys and showing them what Penn State
gymnastics is all about."
The Nittany Lions
placed third at the Big Ten Championships, trailing behind Ohio State and
Michigan. The team placed in the top five in all events. Duverglas led the team
in scoring, tying for first on vault. Howard led the team's individual
performance with a first place finish on rings, the first Penn State gymnast to
win the title since 2012.
out the team's individual competition with a runner-up finish on pommel horse,
an event he has dominated all season. His performance on pommel horse earned
him second team All-Big Ten honors.
"I am looking
forward to competing in pommel horse the most at NCAAs," Hernandez said. "We
have a lot of potential at this tournament as a team."
championship competition, the men's gymnastics team is in pursuit of their 13th
NCAA Championship. If successful, this will be the fourth NCAA Championship
under coach Jepson.
Among the anticipated performances of the Nittany Lions' seniors, the power
lies within the junior and sophomore classes, a promising component of seasons
yet to come. Juniors Duverglas and Hernandez are vying for their first NCAA
titles. The duo is ranked in the top five in two events. Hernandez is ranked
third on pommel horse and Duverglas is ranked second on vault.
Sophomores Torres and Howard have competed consistently throughout the season,
earning Torres a top 20 ranking.
"If we can hit 100
percent of our routines we can do a lot of damage," Jepson said. "The guys have
to trust in this training and preparation. We have to focus on the first day,
it is all about the first day."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
When the 2013 season ended, junior Anthony Zettel had in his mind that he was
ready to move back into the position that he played in 2012.
Zettel provided a big spark for the Nittany Lion defense on numerous occasions
in 2013 with speed and quickness off the edge at defensive end. He made 16 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss and
had 4.0 sacks last season.
But the West Branch, Mich., native knew that he could play an even bigger role at
defensive tackle if given the opportunity to do so. Zettel played in the interior of the
defensive line during his redshirt freshman season in 2012, but weighing only
253 pounds, he moved to end prior to 2013.
Zettel finished last season at roughly 260 pounds. Now, just a bit more than four months later,
Zettel weighs nearly 280 pounds after making significant muscle growth in the
weight room under the direction of Dwight Galt.
The weight game coincides with a move back to defensive tackle this spring,
something Zettel is fired up about.
"You bring a lot of
the same techniques to tackle," Zettel said.
"Personally, I feel like things are going really well. I love playing inside. It's a lot more about reading things quicker
and reacting with a lot less thinking.
Basically, you bring the same techniques, but you need to stay lower and
use more leverage because you are going against double teams."
Zettel has been superb for the defensive line during spring practice. With great speed and quickness, he is a very
difficult matchup for an interior offensive lineman. Zettel has been tough to block for anyone
lining up across from him.
"His first step at the line of scrimmage is one of the best I've ever seen,"
defensive end C.J. Olaniyan said. "He's
going to help us a lot this season, and he is going to make a lot of plays for
His move to defensive tackle required great commitment in the weight room and
with his diet. Zettel is eating five or
six meals a day in order to keep his metabolism at peak performance. The increased diet of roughly 2,000 calories
per day has helped expedite the process of reaching a targeted playing weight
of 285 pounds when the season begins in the fall.
"I have been a lot more consistent in my meals and trying to eat a lot more
frequently throughout the day," Zettel said.
Zettel is thrilled with progress he has made, and the increased weight gain has
helped him play more physical in the trenches.
"It's helped a lot. Fighting off blocks,
I feel a lot strong. It wasn't just
weight that I put on, it was a lot of muscle, too," said Zettel. "My speed actually improved this spring. Everything has been beneficial from the
Despite the weight gain, Zettel got a step quicker during physical testing at the
end of winter conditioning, which will pay huge dividends to competing in the
interior of the line.
"Especially having a good group of defensive ends like we do, I think I will
see a lot of one-on-ones, and I will be able to use my speed even more. That's where the quickness really helps,"
Zettel and the Nittany Lion defense will get to showcase the progress that they
have made during the offseason on Saturday at the Blue-White Game (1:30
p.m.). Confidence is high for the
Michigan native, and he is looking forward to the opportunity on Saturday.
"We are all going out there compete against each other," Zettel said. "We are going to compete like we have been
doing in practice, but now the fans can watch us. I'm excited for it."
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When seven seniors on the Penn State men's
gymnastics team graduated in 2013, the rest of the country didn't have very
high expectations for the Nittany Lions for the upcoming season. But head coach
Randy Jepson saw the potential and knew the team could make it to the NCAA Championships.
Having lost seven seniors last year, the team is rather inexperienced in
terms of competing in NCAA Championship events. But after a strong showing at
the Big Ten Championships, Jepson expects the team to perform well this
Jepson's expectation for the NCAA Championships this weekend in Ann
Arbor, Mich., is for the team to go into the meet and hit as many routines as they
can. At the Big Ten Championships, the Nittany Lions hit 90 percent of their
"We're trying to build on the momentum from Big Tens. Anything can
happen. We just need to put pressure on people. We want to do the best job we
can and be as consistent as we can," Jepson said.
Craig Hernandez, an NCAA Championships veteran, earned second-team
All-Big Ten honors last weekend for his performance on the pommel horse this
season. This season he has worked hard to improve all of his skills.
"Last season I didn't do as well as I could have. This season I have
been building up and trying to meet my own expectations and the team's
expectations," Hernandez said.
He has high expectations for both the team and himself for the
competition this weekend.
"My expectations for the team are to go out there and hit all the
routines the best we can. And to make team finals and have a good showering for
Penn State," Hernandez said. "My expectation for myself is to make event finals
on pommel horse."
Hernandez and many of the other veteran gymnasts have guided the
freshmen through this season. Now, for NCAA Regionals, they have given the
younger players some insight on what to expect this weekend.
"They all say it's one of the most exciting events they have ever been
to. [They told us] that the team needs to do what we have practiced and it
could be the greatest experience of our lives," freshman Dominic DiFulvio
said. "And I'm going to try to make it that."
DiFulvio, who has competed six times this season, says he's excited to
cheer on his teammates as they compete. Having never been to an NCAA
Championship event, DiFulvio's expectations differ from Hernandez.
Gymnasts who have competed in the NCAA Championships before have
expectations for their own routines and also have expectations for the team. As
a freshman, DiFulvio's expectations are more team oriented.
"We've done a lot to prepare for this competition. I expect the team to
put together our routines, make it to the second day and then see how we do in
the finals," DiFulvio said.
"I'm most excited about the atmosphere this weekend. It's really
competitive but it should be a lot of fun. If we continue building on what we
did at Big Tens, it should be even more fun," Hernandez said.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
It would be hard to find a player on Penn State's roster who has improved more
during his time as a Nittany Lion than senior kicker Sam Ficken.
Mid-way through the 2012 season, the Indiana native put his nose to the
grindstone and worked to become a more reliable player for the Nittany
Lions. Thousands of repetitions, relentless
work in the weight room and regular feedback from Chicago Bear Robbie Gould
later, and Ficken is on track to be a consistent weapon for the Nittany Lions
in 2014 following a superb spring practice period.
Ficken made his final 10 field goal attempts of 2012 and his first five of 2013
to break the Penn State record of consecutive made field goals. During that span, he set the Beaver Stadium
record for the longest kick by a Penn State player against Kent State (54
In total, Ficken went 15-for-23 on field goal attempts in 2013. He was perfect on kicks from inside 30 yards,
and he went 41-of-42 on PAT attempts.
Ficken's leg strength was a big factor in the upswing from 2012 to
2013. He made zero kicks of 40 or more
yards in 2012. In 2013, he made five
kicks of 43 yards or more, including the 54-yard boot against Kent State. Ficken also averaged 61 yards per kickoff and
had 18 touchbacks.
The bulk of his work to tweak mechanics came during the offseason prior to 2013.
Ficken shortened his step sequence from two and a half to two steps. He also worked tirelessly on the position of
his plant foot.
Now, Ficken is focused on consistency.
"My big thing is staying consistent, staying healthy," Ficken said. "I think based on my changes that I made
between the two seasons (2012 and 2013), I think my form is good. I've looked at every game, basically two or
three times. I think the biggest thing
for me is sticking to my fundamentals that I've learned from Robbie (Gould) and
just following through with that and staying consistent."
attitude and work ethic are noteworthy attributes to his tangible progress. He faced his share of adversity during the
first half of 2012, but he never lost focus on becoming the best player he
could be for the team.
"When it comes to special teams, you lead by example as a specialist," Ficken
said. "It's hard to lead if you aren't
doing your job to the best of your abilities.
I feel like with all of the experience I have, I definitely feel like I
have an upper hand in that area where I can show that, 'hey, this is what needs
to be done.'"
The Nittany Lions have put a big emphasis on special teams improvement during
spring practice. Ficken has enjoyed
working with new special teams coordinator Charles Huff.
"He's really enthusiastic about special teams, which is great," Ficken
said. "He's really bringing a lot of
energy to it. That is really motivating
the players to put their best foot forward on special teams, which I really
The special teams unit has been thrust into the spotlight throughout spring
drills. At the end of practices, the
specialists are challenged with competitions, often with team conditioning on
the line. Coach Franklin then adds to
the challenge by putting water on balls to make them more difficult to handle,
spraying water at the specialists themselves or calling timeouts to "ice" the
unit. None of that has fazed Ficken, who
has been solid since practice began on March 17. He nailed a 55-yard field goal to save the
team from running during a practice earlier this spring.
"Ficken has been money
all of camp," running back Akeel Lynch said. "He's made a lot
of improvement. Anytime it has been double or nothing for running at the
end of practice, we put it on Ficken's leg and he's been clutch every
"The team gets really
excited when we come through for them at the end of practice," Ficken said.
A small, but very
significant factor to Ficken's consistency this spring is the return of
longtime holder Ryan Keiser. Keiser
suffered a hand injury during the Kent State game last fall and did not hold
during the final eight games of the season.
Just how important is consistency in a kicking operation?
In games with Keiser holding, Ficken went 7-for-8 on field goal attempts and
16-for-16 on point after touchdown attempts in 2013. His lone miss was a 57-yard attempt against
In games without his primary holder, Ficken went 8-for-15 on field goal
attempts and 25-for-26 on point after touchdown attempts.
Keiser and Ficken are back to full strength as a kicking unit this spring.
"We basically have picked up right where we were when he went down with the
injury," Ficken said. "It's definitely
good to have him back. I've worked with
(Chris) Gulla in the offseason just in case something happens again."
With continued progress and consistency during the rest of the offseason, the
sky is the limit for Ficken in 2014.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa.- Geoff Boylston had been waiting for the opportunity to be a starting
pitcher for so long, so nobody could blame him for being a little nervous when
the chance finally came.
first start of his career against West Virginia last night after spending the
past three and a half seasons either injured or occasionally coming out of the
bullpen, the redshirt junior gave up three runs - two earned - on four hits in
the first two innings, and he knew something needed to change.
"I was a
little tentative at first and I was trying to get a feel for things instead of
just going after [hitters]," Boylston said. "At that point I just stopped
caring and decided they could hit the ball as hard as they wanted because my
defense was playing well behind me."
down, Boylston gave up just two more hits over the next three and two-thirds
innings in the longest performance of his career, as the Nittany Lions (16-14)
defeated the Mountaineers (16-12), 8-4, to improve to 8-0 at home on the
he only recorded one strikeout, he also issued just one walk and retired nine
straight batters from the end of the second inning through the start of the
fifth as Penn State quickly erased an early West Virginia lead.
longest outing having previously been just three and one-third innings in 2011
against Albany and having not seen the mound since a March 12 relief
appearance at Fresno State, even Boylston couldn't have predicted that he would
wind up going longer than five innings on Tuesday.
Cooper preaches taking everything one pitch at a time, so I was only thinking
about [getting] strike one," Boylston said. "Things compounded and the next
thing I knew I was sitting in the sixth inning."
the West Chester, Pa. native still seemed to be somewhat in awe of the fact
that he had just won his first ever collegiate start.
It was only
yesterday that the biggest stress in his life had been his upcoming accounting
exam. That was until he received a surprise phone call from fellow pitcher
in the library studying and I get a call from Patton and he said 'dude you're
starting tomorrow,' and I just said 'wait, what,'" Boylston said. "Then I found
out again when I walked into the locker room."
surprising as it may have seemed to go with a pitcher who had never started a
game against easily one of the Nittany Lions toughest opponents, Cooper and
pitching coach Brian Anderson never hesitated with their decision to go with
the untested Boylston.
he had only appeared in four games and thrown just two and two-thirds innings
previously this season, Cooper knew the fourth year pitcher deserved a chance
to prove himself, even if it was against a tough Mountaineers squad.
has been working hard and what you saw tonight is what we all felt [Geoff]
could do," Cooper said. "His biggest problem has been trusting himself and he
just needed to slow the game down and compete."
As big a
win as it was for a Penn State team that has now won 11 of its last 13 games,
it meant even more to the former Archmere Academy standout, who's career hadn't
exactly gone the way he originally expected it to.
three years have included more time sitting in the dugout than on the mound for
Boylston, who entering this season had appeared in 27 games in two active
seasons while missing all of 2012 with an injury.
the chance to not only run out to the mound and hear his name announced as the
starter, but also to exit the game to a standing ovation from the fans and his
teammates, are two moments that Boylston will never forget.
out at the start was probably one of the greatest feelings I've had in the past
three years," Boylston said. "The last three years of my baseball career haven't
been too bright and there have been a lot of dark spots. To have an ovation
like that was truly special and I want to thank everyone."
he has proven he can beat an elite team, it might not be long before Boylston
gets to hear hears his name called again.
guy that deserves another shot for sure," Cooper said. "Hopefully he can show
that this is something he can do on a consistent basis."
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions took to the Penn State Lacrosse Field
on Tuesday evening with only one thing on their minds - beat Cornell.
The Nittany Lions
had dropped two hard-fought games against ALC rivals Florida and Northwestern,
but they were determined to show their fans, their coaching staff, and themselves
the kind of a team they are and the kind of team they can be. It's a team that
doesn't quit, makes the smart play, and stays focused on its goals.
That was the team
the Penn State faithful saw beat Cornell, 13-8, and get back to its winning
The Nittany Lions
and the Big Red went back and forth to start off the game. Cornell was having
tremendous success off the draw, but that didn't seem to slow down the girls in
blue and white. After Cornell sophomore Lindsay Toppe gave the Big Red a 3-4
lead with just over 11 minutes left in the first half, the Nittany Lions just
took over the game.
Penn State scored
six goals - four of which came from the stick of Madison Cyr - over the last 11
minutes to Cornell's two goals, and they ended the half with a 9-6 lead. Missy
Doherty's squad started to win draw controls, 50-50 balls and took complete
advantage of their opportunities.
"...But that's challenge of every game we have, is to be able to keep that energy
up," the head coach said. "Especially with the three remaining games we have,
they are going to be just like this one. It's a hard fought battle and we have
to be ready to bring our best."
Cyr was the story
to end the first half. The four goals she scored were the result of hustle and
strong willpower. She received a well-deserved applause from teammates and fans
when she took a break with two minutes left in the first half after
spearheading the comeback.
In the second half,
after a very inspiring speech from Doherty, the Nittany Lions continued their
dominance and made all the necessary plays to secure the victory. Their
possessions on offense were crisp, and well executed and the defense continued
to be ball-hawks and create turnovers, while keeping the Cornell offense at
Six Nittany Lions
found their way onto the score sheet and helped contribute to the win. It was a
total team effort on offense and defense and the Nittany Lions seemed to hit a
stride and never look back. Attacker Jess Loizeaux continued to play well and
helped contribute to the win with an early goal and a few helpers throughout
Loizeaux said, "it reminds me of having fun and playing the game. I know I'm
playing better here than I did at [University of Virginia] and I think that's
part of the reason why, because I'm having fun while I'm playing. I enjoy
coming to practice every day and I think its fun to play with the teammates. I
love playing with Maggie [McCormick], and Mackenzie [Cyr], and Madison [Cyr],
and Jen [Mosketti] and all the other girls on the attack."
Along with Cyr and
Loizeaux, midfielders Abby Smucker, Ally Heavens, and Tatum Coffey all finished
the day with two goals. Coffey also recorded an assist on Heaven's goal to open
the game, giving her 11 on the season and tying her career-high.
"I think that's one
of the thing we wanted to take advantage of this year is not having three to
four main scorers, [but] to have a lot of threats so they're not really sure
where the goals are going to be coming from," Doherty said. "Thankfully for the
girls, every game a different player steps up and it's been nice to see
This win will be a
huge momentum boost as Penn State prepare for a showdown with ALC Rival Ohio
State. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have gone back and forth over recent
years, and both teams have a lot riding on the game. Doherty and her staff know
the game will be a challenging one, but they also know they will be ready for what
the Buckeyes bring.
"Ohio State is a
big game," Doherty said. "They've done really well this season and it's always
kind a grudge match there and we're just ready to come out, fight, and try to
bring our best game."
Photo Gallery: 2014 NFL Pro Day
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- Eleven former Nittany Lions participated in Penn State's 2014 Pro Day inside
the Lasch Football Building and Holuba Hall on Tuesday.
The participants took part in mental and physical testing in front of
representatives from 26 different NFL teams in preparation for the 2014 NFL
Draft, which takes place in New York City on May 8-10.
The Pro Day schedule included film study, scout meetings with coaches,
Wonderlic testing, team testing, player interviews, height, weight, reach
testing, flexibility testing, 225-pound bench, physical testing on the practice
field and individual player/group workouts.
The physical testing on the practice field included two 40-yard dashes, two
20-yard shuttle runs, L cone drill, one 60-yard shuttle run, two broad jumps
and two vertical jumps.
The participants on Monday consisted of the following 11 former Nittany Lions:
WR - Allen Robinson and Brandon Felder, OL - John Urschel, Garry Gilliam and
Adam Gress, TE - Matt Lehman, DL - DaQuan Jones, LB - Glenn Carson, DB -
Stephen Obeng-Agyapong and Malcolm Willis, P - Alex Butterworth.
"I was happy to be able to get back here to Penn State. This is home for me,"
Urschel said. "I worked on polishing a
few things. I think I took a little bit
off my 40 (time) today, so that's a good thing.
I looked good in drills. So, all's well that ends well."
In addition to Pro Day, Jones, Robinson and Urschel participated in the NFL
Scouting Combine in Indianapolis during February. All three were pleased with progress and
improvements they made from February to Tuesday's workout at Penn State. Robinson's cousin and Ottawa Redblacks
(Canadian Football League) quarterback Kevin Glenn threw for Robinson and
Felder during passing drills.
"I feel great. I feel in (great) shape,"
Robinson said. "My body feels good."
Penn State head coach James Franklin was in attendance for the Pro Day
festivities, in addition to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
Several former Nittany Lion were among the observers, as well, including
All-Americans Kyle Brady, Bobby Engram, Kenny Jackson and Stefen Wisniewski.
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Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For the Penn State men's lacrosse team, dropping a
triple overtime thriller to Drexel last Saturday provided far more than just
heartbreak. The team exhibited grittiness, determination and persistence from
all depths of the roster.
"Look no further than guys like Michael Sutton and
Danny Craig," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "Those guys have just stayed the
course and have been persistent all year. They deserve all the playing time
they get because of their resilient efforts."
The freshman duo of Craig and Sutton combined for
nine points against the Dragons, displaying their will and deservedness to earn
more minutes and starts.
"They were both tremendous bright spots," Tambroni
said. "Our freshmen are starting to play with confidence and playing to what we
thought their potential could be."
Sutton, a midfielder, netted five goals in the
13-12 setback on Saturday. His numbers weren't the only thing that impressed
his coaches in his first start--but his demonstration of persistence and effort
that has culminated all season long.
"Mike Sutton has never waivered in his own
ability," Tambroni said. "He's continued to embrace his role whether it was on
the scout team, deep within the second unit or now as a starter and very high
Sutton isn't alone in this display, as Craig and
fellow freshman Nick Aponte also had big games against Drexel.
"Credit the guys that have been sitting on the
bench all year, keep working hard and continue to believe in themselves," the
fourth-year coach said.
The roller coaster game against Drexel marked the
fourth loss in the last five for the Nittany Lions.
"It is not from a lack of trying," Tambroni said. "Our guys are continuing to
give a great effort and keep moving forward with the belief of being
A major theme in the last four losses has been that
the team hasn't gotten off to the early start in each half that the coaches
would like to see. Despite scoring three goals in the first quarter last
Saturday, Tambroni would like to see a faster pace in the opening quarter.
"For whatever reason--the start of the game and the
start of the third quarter have not been very kind to us in the majority of our
games," Tambroni said. "If you take the first ten minutes of every game and the
first five minutes of every third quarter--it's a lopsided affair."
With three games remaining on the schedule, the
team is looking to tighten up this disconnect in the opening quarters of both
"We have to do a better job as coaches and our guys
have to do a better job as players of providing a little more focus to when
that first whistle is blown."
The Blue and White are committed to finishing this
season strong, which means a variety of things to players and coaches. Winning
out, seeing more production from numerous players on the field and seeing
growth from the freshmen class are among the team's goals.
"I believe this group is committed and we need to
find a way to play up to our potential," Tambroni said. "We are dead set on
finishing this season on a high note."
The Nittany Lions will travel to Maryland next
Saturday to take on Towson. Opening faceoff against the Tigers is set for 7