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By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Nittany Lions played an incredible game Wednesday night against the Drexel Dragons, earning themselves a 14-5 win. Penn State's offensive end was on fire, with four separate players earning hat tricks throughout the game.

The game started off uneventful with Drexel's defense holding Penn State off at the 8-meter arc for the first five minutes of the game. Luckily, junior Steph Lazo was able to get off a successful shot, earning the team their first goal of the game.

After that, many more goals followed with successful shots from Madison Cyr, Katie O'Donnell, and two from Jenna Mosketti within the first 18 minutes of the game.

The team fought hard in the first half on both ends of the field. Offensively they took a beating, being fouled 37 times by Drexel. Defensively, they brought one of their best games yet, playing as a solidified unit and only letting Drexel get one successful shot on goal.

Although Drexel playing rough in the first half, Mosketti thought that it played a contributing factor in many of their successful shots.

"They put us on the 8-meter a lot with fouls in the first half. In practice, we do a lot of 8-meters so that was to our advantages and we just tried to capitalize on it," said Mosketti.

With just five minutes left in the first half, Madison Carter got a goal off the free position, bringing Penn State's lead to 7-1.

A six-point lead was not enough for the team, though. In the last 25 seconds of the first half, Cyr netted two unbelievable goals before the clock ran out bringing the final score of the half to 9-1.

In the start of the second half, with an eight-point lead, things were looking up for Penn State.

Although Drexel came back fired up and managed to keep the ball down by Penn State's goal, netting three goals in the beginning of the second half, the Nittany Lions held strong defensively throughout the entire rest of the half, only allowing one more goal into the net.

Head coach Missy Doherty praised her defensive end and talked about how their previous off week allowed the team to make big improvements defensively.

"Drexel had some long possessions in the second half, which I think we can credit to our defense. We stopped a lot of scoring options early when they wanted to score quickly, which stretched out some of their sets," said Doherty.

"Our off-week really helped us to work on our defensive end. We are headed for a rough part of our season, starting in Big Ten play and we worked hard last week to get all hands on deck defensively." 

The improvements on defense helped the team to get the ball back to the offensive end for the remainder of the second half.

In this half, the team saw four scorers in Alexis Phillips, Steph Lazo, Jenna Mosketti, and Katie O'Donnell. These goals brought two more hat tricks to the team for both Mosketti and Lazo. 

There is no doubt that overall, Penn State has an amazing offensive game, but Mosketti said that that success could not be possible without the major improvement they saw defensively.

"We had a lot of great saves down on defense, which we really tried to work on this week. It allowed us to repeatedly get the ball back down on offense, where we knew we wanted to and did get our shots off," said Mosketti.

Starting this weekend, Penn State will be starting in Big Ten play. While this is going to present challenges for the team, their improvements on defense make the season seem promising on both ends of the field. 

The Nittany Lions next contest will be at home on Saturday, April 2 at 1:00 p.m. against Rutgers.

Spring Football: Post-Practice Press Conference (3/30/16)

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Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin updated the media following Penn State's seventh of 15 spring practices on Wednesday evening. The Nittany Lions practiced outdoors for the fourth time on Wednesday during a session in full pads. The team will return to the field on Saturday to close out the week.

Hear from head coach James Franklin, offensive tackle Andrew Nelson and cornerback John Reid following Wednesday's practice.





Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One weekend of Big Ten conference play is in the books for the Nittany Lions, and there are no blemishes on their conference record.  Penn State swept Rutgers over the weekend with an offensive explosion, scoring 28 runs in three days.

 

The Blue and White also made a little history, sweeping a series for the first time when opening on the road in Big Ten play.  The offensive burst may have been a result of State's ability to put up runs in the first inning, getting off on the right foot each day in Piscataway. 

 

"It's always good to score first to put the other team on its toes," said sophomore Mollie Sorenson, who drove in three RBI on Sunday. 

Penn State is 11-2 this season when leading after two innings.  Junior infielder, Shelby Miller, also believes in the importance of striking first.

"It just shows that we're there to play and it makes a statement."

Yet, it wasn't just the offense that clicked over the weekend.  The ladies in the circle also put up a tremendous collective effort and served as the backbone for the sweep.  The pitching staff worked through a few jams but surrendered little damage, getting the job done in pressure situations.  

"Our faith in the pitching staff keeps going up and up," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. 

"We've gone to much more, if you've noticed in the past five games, different looks [in the circle] unless somebody's rocking it, so the fact that they kind of buy into that, they're picking each other up and that's what we've been looking for all year," she added. 

Miller, a team leader herself, agrees with coach's assessment of the hurlers. 

"I have a lot of confidence in our pitchers; they're always working through adversity, and that's what we do to them in practice as well during the drills," she said.  "I know if there's a bases loaded scenario that no one's going to score." 

As has been the case all season, Lehotak will send many pitchers in during a single game to switch up the looks for the other team.  Depending on the situation, Penn State has so many talented arms that there could be a new pitcher every inning.

"Friday you can see five out of the six, you can see all six, or you can see one.  Kind of the same thing all weekend; it will be what I see and we will react to it," said Lehotak. 

Sitting at 14-14 overall, the Nittany Lions may be getting over the hump and are becoming more acclimated to each other as a team.  If this past weekend was any indication, things are looking up for the softball team this season. 

"It was the first time they were like, 'Oh, this is what we're supposed to do.'  I think the juniors and seniors really stepped up this weekend against Rutgers.  They took it to a different level of leadership.  I think if they keep that standard, everyone else will follow and that's how we'll maintain [success]," said Lehotak. 

It is certainly the right time of year for both the offense and pitching to be clicking, as it is mostly conference games from here on out.  This weekend, Michigan State comes to town, with the first game set for Friday at 6:00 p.m.  

Nittany Lions Reflect on Many Milestones of 2015-16 Season

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After tallying a new program record with 21 wins in a season, the Penn State men's hockey team can look back on the 2015-16 season proudly.

The Nittany Lions started their season off strong, winning three of their first four home games in Pegula Ice Arena. The Nittany Lions had four sweeps during the season in Pegula, against AIC and Sacred Heart, as well as Big Ten foes Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky boasted how the Roar Zone continues to amaze the team and coaches alike, and the group is without a doubt a reason for the Nittany Lions amounting a 12-5-1 home record this campaign.

"Just looking at the season obviously lots of positives and takeaways, we sold out every game which I think is just tremendous, and not only are we continuing to improve, our Roar Zone is continuing to improve. I thought they were absolutely awesome so those are two big positives," said Gadowsky. "First 20-win season is great, I think third place in the Big Ten is a big accomplishment, as well."

Gadowsky pointed out that the Nittany Lions were able to develop offensively throughout the season, which contributed to adding more wins for the program. Comparing Penn State to other Big Ten offensive teams, such as Michigan and Minnesota is hard, explained Gadowsky, but nationally he pointed out that the team did very well.

Another high point for the team came in the form of the freshman class. Transitioning to college hockey can be tough, but this class seemed to fit right in from the start.

Freshman forward Andrew Sturtz led the team this season in goals with 18, followed by fellow freshman forward Chase Berger with 13, tied with senior forward Eric Scheid.

On defense, freshman Vince Pedrie and Kevin Kerr stood out as individuals who were willing to do anything for teammates, as well as were quick with a shot on net if needed.

"Another factor was how well our freshmen fit in," said Gadowsky. "I don't know if that's credit due to the freshmen or credit due to the upperclassmen who really did a great job at mentoring them but I think those were all positives for us."

With the season over, several Nittany Lions will be continuing their hockey careers beyond the walls of Hockey Valley.

Scheid signed a contract with the Portland Pirates of the AHL. Scheid notched 77 total points during his time wearing the Blue and White.

Senior goaltender Matt Skoff joined the Reading Royals of the ECHL on an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO). Skoff leaves Hockey Valley holding every career record possible for a goaltender at Penn State, including games played (77), victories (32), and saves (2,114).

Senior forward and alternate captain Luke Juha departs Penn State for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL on an Amateur Tryout Agreement. In his final season, the Ontario native notched 15 goals, the most ever by a Nittany Lion defenseman.

The only junior leaving the program, goaltender Eamon McAdam, signed his NHL contract with the New York Islanders. Drafted in 2013 by New York, McAdam finished out his junior season at Penn State by singing a three-year entry-level deal with the Islanders. McAdam played in 22 games during the 2015-16 season, 13 of those games were victories.

"It is difficult, and in this conference, the Big Ten conference you look at Minnesota who lost three juniors, it's something that you understand it's a possibility and in one strange sense you realize it's almost a factor of success," said Gadowsky of early signees. "If you have a lot of people signing early it probably means they did a good job."

Singing early, Gadowsky explained, is a testament to how well McAdam has played this past season, and how much vision the NHL has for the young player.

Whether they're departing Hockey Valley after graduation or for the pros, the departing Nittany Lions, including a senior class of eight, will forever be remembered by teammates, coaches, and fans as some of the most dedicated individuals the program has ever had.

Gadowsky noted in his final press conference of the season that now is a critical time for the program when it's in transition between seasons. He pointed out that the new freshman class joining the program would be bringing in decorated individuals who each bring a unique skillset to the table.


Seven new Nittany Lions will step onto the ice for Penn State this fall, including goaltender Peyton Jones, and 2015 Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick, Nikita Pavlychev.

USHL standout Denis Smirnov will also join the program this fall, after putting off his enrollment for a year to further his development.

Gadowsky is excited to welcome such a talented class to the program, and is confident they will smoothly transition into college hockey with a little help from the veterans.

With the Nittany Lions eager to welcome a new class and to get back onto the ice, it's all about looking ahead to next season and building off the successes of this season's campaign. The future is looking bright for a program that didn't even have the ice of Pegula Ice Arena to skate on four seasons ago.

Spring Football Position Breakdown - Tight Ends

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Spring Practice Central


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions held their sixth practice session of the spring season on Monday afternoon. Throughout spring practice, GoPSUsports.com will break down each position on the depth chart. Today, we focus on the tight ends.



The Tight Ends

Players Returning-Newcomers/Lost:
5/4

Who's Back:
Nick Bowers (So./Fr.), Danny Dalton (Fr./Fr.), Jonathan Holland (So./Fr.), Mike Gesicki (Jr./Jr.), Tom Pancoast (Sr./Jr.)

The Breakdown:
11823662.jpegUnder the direction of coach Ricky Rahne, the Nittany Lion tight end corps is eager to find more opportunities to make plays when the season commences in August. A hard-working, youthful group made big strides in the weight room during the winter. Now, the tight ends are primed to take a significant step forward on the field as the Lions build towards the 2016 season.

Coming off a season that included his first touchdown reception, Mike Gesicki headlines the group of returning tight ends. The New Jersey native has just scratched the surface of what type of impact player he can become in the Penn State offense. Gesicki has appeared in 25 games during his first two seasons on campus and has made 24 receptions for 239 yards since the start of his true freshman campaign.

A standout all-around athlete, Gesicki made big gains in his blocking ability during the 2015 season, and he is poised to be a focal point in the passing game for the Nittany Lions in the fall. The 2014 BTN.com All-Freshman Team honoree notched a 33-yard touchdown reception against Army last fall. With continued progress and consistency, Gesicki will be an impact player for the Lions in 2016.

Junior Tom Pancoast is poised to earn more playing time for the Nittany Lions in the fall. The West Chester, Pa., product made his collegiate debut against Illinois last fall.

A pair of redshirt sophomores will enter the mix for playing time, as well. Nick Bowers and Jonathan Holland were very effective players on the scout team offense during 2015, and the duo is now ready to step into the rotation. Both Bowers and Holland were ranked among the nation's top 25 tight ends in the 2015 recruiting class.

Additionally, true freshman Danny Dalton has joined the unit on the field this spring after graduating from high school early and enrolling in classes at Penn State this spring. Rated as the top overall player in Massachusetts by all four major recruiting outlets - ESPN, Rivals, Scout and 247Sports, Dalton brings good size (6-4, 241) and athleticism to the group of tight ends.

Learning the intricacies of the new offense has been the name of the game for the tight ends this spring. Coach Rahne enjoys leading the group because of its work ethic, and he is excited about the unit's role in the offense. The tight ends are asked to do a number of different things for the team to be successful, and it's a unique, yet fun, challenge for the players to be a part of as the spring season wears on.


Quoting Coach Rahne:
"I really like this group. It is a young group, but they are all working really hard. I think one thing about it is we've got guys who can make some plays down the field, but we've got guys who can be really effective blocking in the run game. That gives our offense a great opportunity to put a defense in conflict. I'm excited to watch them the rest of the spring. They had a great winter period and were really locked in. I have enjoyed coaching all of them. Their role in the offense is a really cool deal because they have such a variety of things to do. They are equally involved in the run and in the pass and in pass protection. They've got to kind of know a little bit of everything. I think that is awesome. There is nothing repetitive each day at practice. Every day, they are learning something new and mastering a different skill. I think that makes it fun to play in an offense like this."

Spring Football Position Breakdown - Specialists

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Spring Practice Central


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions held their fifth practice of the spring season on Friday. Throughout spring practice, GoPSUsports.com will break down each position on the depth chart. Today, we focus on the specialists.



The Specialists

Players Returning/Lost:
10/1

Who's Back:
Nick Boumerhi (So./Fr.), Nick Cox (So./Fr.), Tyler Davis (Sr./Jr.), Chris Gulla (Sr./Jr.), Joey Julius (Jr./So.), Zach Ladonis (Sr./Jr.), Daniel Pasquariello (Jr./Jr.), Kyle Vasey (Jr./So.), Jordan Wombacker (So./Fr.), Tyler Yazujian (Gr./Sr.)

The Breakdown:
11823533.jpegThe unit of Penn State specialists returns 10 players from the 2015 season, including each of the starters from the TaxSlayer Bowl. Headlining the group is the unit's leader in senior Tyler Yazujian. The 2015 CoSIDA Academic All-American has handled all of the team's snapping duties since the 2014 season.

Yazujian has been a model of consistency on kick and punt snapping and will head into the fall as the team's top long snapper. Additionally, the Royersford, Pa., native transformed his body in the weight room over the winter. Adding size to his frame and now a step faster, Yazujian will play an integral role on the punt coverage team in 2016.

The punting duties were split between Chris Gulla and Daniel Pasquariello in 2015. The duo is back for 2016, and both have taken a step forward during the winter. Now a junior, Gulla averaged 37.7 yards per punt on 23 attempts last season. He had eight punts downed inside the 20-yard line and three attempts of more than 50 yards. He appeared in 12 games and started in four. Gulla is also the team's primary holder on all placekicking attempts.

Pasquariello appeared in 11 games and started nine contests for the Nittany Lions at punter. The Melbourne, Australia, native became more consistent as his second season in America wore on. Pasquariello finished with a 39.9-yard average on 58 attempts. He had 12 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line and nine boots of 50-plus yards. He finished with a career-best 60-yard punt against Michigan. Both Gulla and Pasquariello will again compete for the starting assignment at punter.

Junior Tyler Davis finished the 2015 season with great consistency at placekicker. The former soccer player at Bradley University finished a perfect 8-for-8 on field goal attempts and 11-for-11 on extra points. Davis appeared in seven games and started in five contests. The Illinois native connected on a career-high three field goal attempts against Michigan.

Sophomore Joey Julius was one of 17 redshirt freshmen to see the field for the Nittany Lions in 2015. Selected to the BTN.com All-Freshman team, Julius appeared in 11 games and led the Big Ten with a .833 field goal percentage. The Hummelstown, Pa., product finished 10-for-12 on field goal attempts with a long of 40 yards. He also averaged 62.0 yards per kickoff for the Nittany Lions.

Redshirt freshmen Nick Boumerhi and Jordan Wombacker will add depth the specialist unit at both punter and kicker, while Nick Cox, Zach Ladonis and Kyle Vasey will increase the team's depth at the snapper spot.

Consistency is the key for the specialists in 2016. Special teams coordinator Charles Huff wants to see the unit's gains in the weight room during winter conditioning lead to more consistency on the game field in all phases of the special teams unit come September when the season begins.


Quoting Coach Huff:
"With the specialists, they have done a great job this year of addressing the issues that they had. And they've gone out and tried to correct those. A perfect example of that is a guy like (Tyler) Yazujian who went out and completely changed his body during the winter. And a guy like (Chris) Gulla who went out and corrected some of the fundamental issues that he had so that he could better produce. These things are starting to show. They all did a great job over the winter working on their craft. I'm really looking forward to the benefits of their hard work."

Nittany Lions Starting To Regain Identity

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11822600.jpeg By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State is slowly getting back to where it wants to be and where it was earlier on this season.

The Nittany Lions took a few steps forward in their weekend games against Lewis and Loyola Chicago. Penn State beat Lewis in five sets on Friday night and lost to Loyola Chicago, the defending national champions, in four sets on Saturday.

The last couple of weekends, the Nittany Lions have been searching for two things according to head coach Mark Pavlik, consistency and their overall competitiveness. The weekend, much like the last couple of weekends, was up and down. However, Penn State continued to make strides, albeit small at times, towards getting back to its top form.

Match one was a match that mirrored the efforts of Penn State in mid-February. The Nittany Lions didn't necessarily play their best volleyball, but their compete level was off the charts, resulting in a thrilling finish in the fifth set. The Nittany Lions battled to a 15-12 victory to secure the season sweep over Lewis.

"Game five, to me, was probably the best game five we've played all season," Pavlik said. "We were steady late. When they tied it at six I thought we just got stronger and stronger. That was a very good win for us against a very good team."

Much has been made of Penn State's up and down run these past couple weeks and right now, though some things have been figured out, on nights like this it's as simple as being up or down during the right time.

"Well us playing well in the fifth tells me that we're up now," Pavlik said. "If there was a game six, who knows but I was very happy with how we played overall in this match, not just game five."

In game two of the weekend, Penn State took a step back against the defending national champions. Despite a convincing victory in game one, Penn State couldn't maintain a high level of play and fell in four sets, dropping the last three in a row like they have in their down period.

There were some bright spots in the match as Jalen Penrose saw substantial action for the first time in almost a month and made the most out of it. The redshirt sophomore had 12 kills on 18 attempts and limited his errors to only two. Penrose could be a major contributor to a playoff run if he is able to maintain his consistency.

Despite the negative impact of the second game on Penn State's record, the first game held many positives that can outweigh the negatives of a weekend split. According to captain and senior Matt Seifert, he feels like the team may be starting to find their identity. If that's the case, they are finding it at just the right time.

"I think we're starting to find our identity," Pavlik said. "We're going to fight, scratch and claw and do whatever we have to do to win for as long as we need to. I think it's just a testament to the team that we can do whatever we need to do for as long as we have to."

Penn State has a few big tests coming up as they take on NJIT and Princeton this upcoming weekend before heading to Ohio State for a Tuesday road contests the following weekend. 


Nittany Lions Upend No. 1 Denver

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11822522.jpeg By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
DALLAS - On Saturday afternoon, the Penn State men's lacrosse team (6-3) upset No. 1 Denver (7-1), handing the Pioneers their first loss of the 2016 season, and their first loss in their last 20 games. With the 15-10 victory over the Pioneers, the Nittany Lions clinched the Patriot Cup title.

The contest, held at Ford Stadium on SMU's campus, started off in favor of the Nittany Lions as junior midfielder Brian Prestreau got Penn State on the board first.


The Nittany Lions were able to keep a constant eye on the Denver defense in the first half, ending the second quarter leading 8-6. However, at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth Penn State was able to pull away from Denver to a commanding 15-7 lead with four minutes left in the game.

Three late goals from Denver weren't enough for the Pioneers to edge the determined Nittany Lions, and Penn State won 15-10.

Head coach Jeff Tambroni explained how the key to his team's tremendous win was their determination right from the first faceoff. Tambroni noted how faceoff man, junior Billy Lombardi, was key for helping the Nittany Lions gain vital possessions throughout the game. 

"He just competed so hard today, but also so intelligently," said Tambroni. "You look at Denver as a team and they're good in all facets but you look at the faceoff 'x' and the last two years they've been the No. 1, No. 2 team in the country and I thought Billy, when we didn't win the immediate glance, he did enough to allow it to be a more 3-vs-3."

Lombardi went 13-for-28 at the faceoff 'x' against Denver, but Tambroni noted how the combination of Lombardi's intelligence and conviction became the pivot point of the game that all other members of the team built off of.

Another standout performance for the Nittany Lions came on the defensive end.

The Nittany Lions, who have been working toward more consistency as a whole, really buckled down on defense against the Pioneers.

"I thought there was a combination of two things, one I thought out defense did a really nice job of mixing things up to keep Denver a little uncomfortable, just enough," said Tambroni. "They did just enough to keep them off balance which gave Will [Schreiner] more time to see the ball and gave him a little bit more time."

Tambroni pointed to the consistency of sophomore goalkeeper Will Schreiner's performance in net throughout the game allowed the defense to remain confident and calm throughout the game.

Schreiner made six key saves in Penn State's victory over Denver.


On attack, several players notched multiple points, as junior Dan Craig and sophomore Ryan Keenan notched three goals, while senior TJ Sanders, redshirt junior Matt Florence, and freshman Grant Ament all notched two apiece.

For the players, the win is a confidence boost as they head into challenging conference play next weekend. Continuing the momentum and sticking to the basics will be essential for the Nittany Lions moving forward.

"We just beat a very good team by doing some simple things," said Craig. "So I think if we stay to a quick tempo and sticking to the little things, we'll do just fine."    

Spring Football: Depth, Talent Fill Versatile Nittany Lion Receiving Corps

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godwin_blog_Spring.jpgSpring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a room filled with talent, the Nittany Lion receivers could easily let individual competition for playing time get in the way of the development of the collective group.

But that's not how they see it.

As the group likes to say, iron sharpens iron.

When the pieces inside the collective unit push one another, it raises the level of everyone.


That's what is going to separate the current crop of wide outs from previous units.

"We all just push each other day on the practice field," junior Saeed Blacknall said. "You often see guys saying to one another that, 'hey, you should work on this.' We try to help one another grow because you know that when each individual grows, it's helping the team."

That type of mindset doesn't just happen overnight. It's a culmination of the rapport that Lion receivers have built on and off the field, and they are guys who genuinely want to see one another succeed.

"I think the relationship we have with one another is an area that makes us unique. We are all great friends," said junior Chris Godwin. "The fact that we are so close allows us to push one another to new limits. I think that's really going to show throughout the year."

Working towards one common goal is what drives the unit. The players in coach Josh Gattis' position room know what type of potential they have as individuals and as a unit. Expectations are high, but that's what drives the receivers to be the best.

"We are competing against ourselves. Coach (Joe) Moorhead always tells us that we aren't competing against the defense. We are competing against ourselves to make everyone better," said junior DaeSean Hamilton. "We focus on getting each other better. We work on getting better every single day. We are all in this together, and we are all seeking the same goal. We can't be separate people. We are working to get everyone better."

The versatility of the Lion wide receivers will be a big strength for the group in 2016. The unit is filled with variety. There is size. There is speed. There is quickness. The Lions possess a group of wide outs with distinguishing characteristics amongst the individuals on the field, giving the young quarterbacks plenty of options when it comes to finding playmakers.

"We've got tall guys. We got short and fast guys. We've got guys in the middle who are still big and strong," said Hamilton. "We have a lot of variation between the guys who have been here and the guys who are just getting their feet wet. All the different aspects that the unit can bring to the field makes us unique."

"Everyone brings something different to the table," said Blacknall. "With so many different varieties in terms of skillsets, it's something you don't really see a lot of other places. It makes it fun for us."

Blacknall, Godwin and Hamilton return as the unit's three most experienced players. They are the leaders in a group filled with young talent. All three had a superb winter in the weight room and have transformed their body types.

Blacknall ran the team's second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash, Godwin is among an elite group of what Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt calls "tier three" athletes and Hamilton added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame.

With the increased mass, Hamilton is eager to transition to a spot on the inside of the offense. With his blend of size and speed, the team's active leader in receptions is going to present problems for bigger defensive players.

"Learning how to run routes inside against linebackers and safeties is an adjustment I've been working on," said Hamilton. "It's a favorable mismatch for the offense when you have an inside guy with good strength and speed lined up against a bigger guy who might not be as quick as a cornerback."

The spring practice period has been one of transition for the receivers. The Lions are working through the paces with a pair of young quarterbacks - Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens - who are stepping into the role of taking primary reps for the first time. So far, things have been going well as the two groups build on-field chemistry with one another.

"It's been fun to watch them learn," said Hamilton. "We are all learning the new offense together, and they work extremely hard at it. That growing experience is coming along with all the quarterbacks and the other receivers in a way that is helping everyone learn."

The fact that both units are in the process of learning a new offensive scheme and tempo together makes the transition easier. Through the first two weeks of spring ball, the early reviews from the wide outs is nothing but positive about the potential playmaking ability in the new Nittany Lion offense.

The scheme puts an emphasis on tempo and getting the ball into the hands of the weapons in space, something the receivers are keen to be a part of.

"It's fast-paced, and that's the first thing that comes to mind," said Godwin. "I think it's really fun. I think it's going to create a lot of pressure for opposing defenses. It's something that is completely different than what teams have seen from us. And having so many guys who can rotate in will certainly help us in the long run."

"The concepts within the offense are everything a receiver could ask for," said Blacknall. "It puts guys in positions to make plays in space. And we love that."

The sky is the limit for the Nittany Lion receivers, and the unit is moving forward in spring ball with great confidence in how the group can evolve from here.

"When there are other great players around you, it pushes you to become the best player that you can be," said Godwin. "We are all pushing one another. And that's exciting to watch."



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the indoor season in the books, Penn State track and field kicks off its outdoor season this weekend.

 

The opening outdoor meets give Gondak and his staff an opportunity to see where the team stands and what to build on as they move along towards championship time. It will be an opportunity to see how the men's and women's teams stack up against solid track and field programs. Gondak has a strong contingent of returning athletes from last year's outdoor season. Penn State returns six 2015 NCAA outdoor qualifiers, three 2015 outdoor All-Americans, and a core group of strong veteran contributors.

 

"It's neat to watch the team compete for the first time," said head coach John Gondak.

 

The Nittany Lions will travel across country to Tempe, Arizona to compete Friday and Saturday in the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge hosted by Arizona State. Penn State is one of the four schools representing the Big Ten Conference in a competition against four schools representing the Pac-12 Conference. Conference versus conference scoring should make the meet unique as Penn State looks to display pride for the Big Ten.

 

The schedule of events varies a bit for the outdoor segment of the track and field season from the indoor segment. Instead of 17 events during a typical indoor meet it changes to 21 for outdoor meets. On the track, the dimensions of an outdoor track doubles to 400m after months of training on a 200m indoor track.

 

Additional outdoor specific events play into the hands of the Nittany Lions. Javelin throw, the steeplechase, the 100m, the 4x100m relays, and 10,000m are intriguing events to watch this weekend as athletes compete in them for the first time this year in actual competition

 

"I'm excited to see different events," said Gondak.

 

Gondak noted the Nittany Lions have six quality women javelin throwers who can compete well at the conference championship level. Each of those athletes have been training during the indoor season because there's no javelin event in indoor competition. Leader of the women's javelin group is senior multiple-time All-American Lauren Kenney (State College, Pa.). Kenney missed last outdoor season due to injury but is ready to go for the Nittany Lions after months of training.

 

Senior Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) returns to compete in her signature steeplechase event. Gerlach earned a silver medal finish in last year's Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

 

Veteran distance runner Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) and jumper Brian Leap (Bellwood, Pa.) give the Nittany Lions more depth in the outdoor season after competing unattached during the indoor season due to no indoor eligibility remaining.

 

Younger athletes will be important for the Nittany Lions as well. Sophomore All-Big Ten cross country athlete Jillian Hunsberger (Pittsburgh, Pa.) is returning after missing the indoor season due to injury.

 

In the sprinting events, freshman Dan Chisena (Exton, Pa.), last year's PIAA Class AAA Outdoor 100-meter, 200-meter and 4x100-meter relay state champion lace up the spikes alongside fellow newcomer Anton Porter (Bronx, N.Y.).

 

For more on Nittany Lion track & field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.

 

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