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VIDEO: Meet the Newcomers - Part I

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Meet the Newcomers - Part II

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com sits down with four of the Nittany Lion women's volleyball newcomers in the first of a two-part series. No. 1 Penn State opens its 2014 season on Aug. 29 against TCU inside Rec Hall.




Training Camp Notebook - James Franklin Update

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Training Camp Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The training camp portion of preseason preparations for the Nittany Lions is essentially over. The coaching staff and team have shifted into UCF game prep.

The players are scheduled to move out of the dorms on Thursday in preparation for the fall academic semester, which commences on Monday. Head coach James Franklin spent a few minutes on a phone conference with the local media to provide a training camp update on Wednesday afternoon. Take a look through a preseason notebook from Wednesday's call.

UCF Preparations Back Underway
The coaching staff spent much of the summer breaking down film and formulating a preliminary gameplan for the Aug. 30 opener in Dublin, Ireland. After focusing on the internal growth of the team at training camp during the first few weeks of August, the coaching staff has resumed prep for UCF.

"We are really just starting that. We basically ended camp last night," Franklin said. "We are kind of starting now on Central Florida with scout teams and things like that. The staff has been watching film all day. We have obviously done preliminary gameplans this summer, but now we are going back after having a better idea of who we are on offense, defense and special teams...We are at the very beginning level of it right now, although we have done some legwork ahead of time, obviously."

Standout Freshmen
Coach Franklin listed a handful of Nittany Lion newcomers who have impressed thus far during camp. The list included players at wide receiver, tight end, safety and cornerback.

"I think (Chris) Godwin and Saeed (Blacknall) are guys who have jumped out to me. (Mike) Gesicki has jumped out to me. Guys that we are going to need to have a role for us. On defense, I think Marcus Allen and Grant Haley are guys that have done some nice things, and Jason Cabinda, at positions that we need."

Battle at Cornerback
The battle for playing time alongside junior Jordan Lucas has been a competitive one during preseason practice. Coach Franklin highlighted the training camp efforts of corners Trevor Williams, Da'Quan Davis and freshman Grant Haley.

"I think those two guys have had a nice camp, as well as Grant Haley," Franklin said. "You really need probably five corners that you feel good about during camp and during the season because you are going to get some nicks and things like that. Right now, Trevor (Williams) has got the most reps and has the most experience, but those other guys are making a case for themselves, as well."

Depth on the Defensive Line
Franklin noted that he would like to see 12 to 14 guys in the rotation on the defensive line. Among the contributors during camp, the head coach of the Nittany Lions said two guys have really stood out on the D-Line during the preseason.

"Guys that have really stood out to me, probably two guys - that's Carl Nassib. He's had a great camp. His motor is unbelievable. He's a massive human being. He's got great length. And then AJ (Austin Johnson) is another guy," Franklin said. "He's had a great camp. He's just so big and athletic. He's difficult to deal with. Those guys have been problematic during camp."

Offensive Line Continuing to Grow
The Nittany Lion offensive line will continue to work towards becoming a cohesive unit over the next 10 days before the Lions take the field in Ireland. Franklin said finding five guys in consistent spots on the O-Line is important in the growth process.

"We've still got some work to do. We really do," Franklin said. "This last, a little over a week up to the game, we still have some work to do. A lot of it is, not just figuring out who the guys are, but all of the moving parts that factor into it...We haven't really had the same five guys at the same five spots for multiple practices yet. That's kind of where we are at now. We've had a chance to evaluate all of these guys. Now, it's how do we get the best five on the field complementing each other, playing as a unit and getting some consistency there. That's what we are going to be doing now for the next week and a half."



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Leadership Council Important to Lions, Franklin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin believes the Nittany Lions can never have too much leadership on and off the field.

In addition to Penn State's seven team captains, a group comprising of 27 players adds to the team's leadership. The Penn State Football Leadership Council, which meets at least twice a month, has representatives from each class to keep the players, coach Franklin and the program on the same page.

This year's representatives include seniors Adrian Amos, Brad Bars, Bill Belton, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Dieffenbach, Sam Ficken, Mike Hull, Ryan Keiser, Jesse Merise, C.J. Olaniyan, Devin Pryor, Tyrone Smith, Deron Thompson and Zach Zwinak; juniors Deion Barnes, Kyle Carter, Jesse James, Ben Kline, Jordan Lucas, Angelo Mangiro and Donovan Smith; sophomores Brandon Bell, Christian Hackenberg, Austin Johnson and Akeel Lynch; freshmen Andrew Nelson and Garrett Sickels.

"We meet roughly twice a month to talk about what's going on in the family," Olaniyan said. "It's a great way to talk about all of the positive things that are going on and to discuss how we can improve some of the negatives."

The leadership council is a voice on behalf of the team from the locker room. Additionally, it's a collection of players who can keep Coach Franklin in the loop of how the team is doing and ideas of where things can be improved within the program or the community.

"It's a great way for each class to have a voice and to make sure everyone is on the same page," Hackenberg said. "We are all able to share opinions of what we are seeing and how we can make things better."

"One thing, too, that it has really helped during the past few months is that it has given Coach a chance to know the team a little better," Belton said.

The group, which meets in Coach Franklin's office, brings items to the agenda ranging from which players are performing well to improvements in the amenities in the locker room or player's lounge. Several video game systems were added this summer to the players' lounge.

"Discussing things like the new video games in the lounge are great," Lynch said. "We brought an idea to Coach Franklin as a group, and it is an improvement for collective team."

Both sides - coaches and players - have felt like the leadership council is great for the program.

"It's a direct link from the locker room to Coach Franklin," Lynch said. "I think it's been great. It's a way to talk amongst ourselves and create a collective voice to five Coach Franklin an idea of what is going on in the locker room with a common voice. It's really easy to talk with Coach Franklin as a group."

As the season progresses, the Council may meet more than the usual twice a month as it becomes necessary to do so. With a strong few months of dialogue in place, the consistent leadership from across the roster is a positive for the current team and the future of Penn State Football.




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VIDEO: 2014 Field Hockey Season Preview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having won at least a share of the last two Big Ten regular season titles, the Nittany Lion field hockey team returns six starters from last season's squad.

Head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss and the Nittany Lions tallied a 13-6 overall mark in 2013, which included a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Midfielder Laura Gebhart and goalkeeper Kylie Licata return as 2013 first-team All-Big Ten honorees. Senior forward Taylor Herold led the Nittany Lions with 30 points last season. In all, Penn State will field nine seniors in 2014.

The Nittany Lions open the season on Aug. 29 against Old Dominion on the sparkling new turf at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

GoPSUsports.com spent a morning with the Lions during preseason practice to provide an inside look at preparations for the season.





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VIDEO: 2014 Women's Soccer Season Preview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's soccer team will kickoff the Penn State sports calendar for 2014-'15 with two home games this weekend.

On Friday, Penn State hosts West Virginia at 7:30 p.m. on Jeffrey Field. The Nittany Lions meet Syracuse Sunday at 2:30 p.m. GoPSUsports.com spent a morning with the Nittany Lions during preseason practice to preview the 2014 season. Take a look.






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VIDEO: Inside Training Camp - Quarterbacks & Receivers

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Inside Training Camp - The Secondary | Inside Training Camp - Special Teams

Inside Training Camp - Defensive Line | Inside Training Camp - Offensive Line

Inside Training Camp - Running Backs

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The relationship between the quarterbacks and wide receivers is unique on the football field. Both units need to be in lockstep every time the ball is snapped to ensure the highest level of execution.

Building a rapport between the two groups goes far beyond the 12 Saturdays in the fall. For Nittany Lion quarterback Christian Hackenberg, his work with the 2014 receivers began immediately after the final game of last season. Timing is essential for a passing game to find success. GoPSUsports.com's Inside Training Camp series continues today with a closer look at the relationship between Penn State's quarterbacks and receivers.





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VIDEO: Inside Training Camp - Running Backs

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Inside Training Camp - The Secondary | Inside Training Camp - Special Teams

Inside Training Camp - Defensive Line | Inside Training Camp - Offensive Line

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With two weeks of training camp down, the Nittany Lions are now just shy of one week away from traveling to Ireland in preparation for the season-opener against UCF.

Continuing GoPSUsports.com's inside look at preseason practice, Inside Training Camp goes all access with Penn State's talented corps of running backs. From the meeting room to the practice field, follow a day with coach Charles Huff and the Nittany Lion running backs.





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Franklin Pleased with Team's Energy, Progress at Camp

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TC_Lions Den.JPGVIDEO: James Franklin Training Camp Update - Aug. 14

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are constant reminders within Penn State Football to focus on the program's four core values.

1. Positive Attitude
2. Unrivaled Work Ethic
3. Compete in Everything
4. Sacrifice

Since the day he arrived on campus in Happy Valley, head coach James Franklin has instilled those values into every player on the roster. As a byproduct, the coach of the Nittany Lions has been pleased with the team's enthusiasm each time it has stepped onto the field during the first two weeks of camp.

"It's been great. We've had great energy at practice," Franklin said. "Guys are flying around. We've gotten better. I've dramatically seen us get better. Especially on special teams...I like where we are at right now."

Training camp has been marked by good progress on both sides of the ball and on special teams. On special teams, Franklin highlighted the improvement from the team's corps of punters as a unit that has made significant strides when he addressed the media following Thursday's practice.

Collectively, though, the first 12 days of camp have been positive for Franklin and the coaching staff.

"I think we've got some really good football players. I really do," Franklin said. "I think the staff being together now is really valuable. And I see it showing up in a lot of different areas - how we plan, how we come out here and how we are effective. I don't know if there is anything that has surprised me, but overall, I've been pretty pleased with what we have been able to do."

On the defensive side of the ball, Franklin noted that the unit has impressed him since he arrived at Penn State. Headlined by a deep defensive line and a veteran secondary, the Nittany Lion defense has put together a strong two weeks of training camp.

"I've been very pleased with our defense as a whole," Franklin said. "When you look across the board at the guys we have on the field, really all 11 starters and some more depth, I think our defense has a chance to play really well. I think they can play fast and play with confidence. With the strength of our D-Line, I'm depending on those guys to help the secondary, as well. Because hopefully the quarterback isn't going to be able to hold onto the ball very long."

Guided by sophomore captain Christian Hackenberg, the Nittany Lion quarterbacks are another group Franklin has enjoyed watching progress during camp. Hackenberg continues to evolve within the offensive scheme following a strong offseason. Behind the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Franklin said that true freshmen Michael O'Connor and Trace McSorley are battling for the No. 2 spot.

"I've been really pleased with Hack and his improvement from the spring and his command of the offense across the board is better," Franklin said. "The No. 2 battle is interesting. (Trace) McSorley, all of the things we thought about him when we recruited him - he's a winner, he's smart and he's picked it up really well...I think (Micheal) O'Connor has had a great summer. Dwight Galt has said that he may have had the best summer of anyone on the team. But McSorley is right there. And that's what we want. We want competition at every position."

Training camp continues on Friday, which marks the end of the summer academic session. Penn State will practice once on Friday before two sessions on Saturday. The team's focus remains on maximizing each day with improvement. Franklin said that the squad will shift into UCF mode soon, but right now, the emphasis is still on Penn State.

"I'm excited about that game and going there," Franklin said. "I think it is a really good team. If you look at that roster, they have almost everybody back...I think it's going to be a tremendous challenge. It is a veteran team. It is a veteran coach."

Penn State will meet UCF in the Croke Park Classic on Aug. 30 (8:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2) in Dublin, Ireland.



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VIDEO: Coach Franklin Training Camp Update - Aug. 14

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions completed their 11th day of training camp on Thursday afternoon. Head coach James Franklin invited the media to the final two periods of the day's full-padded practice before he addressed the group to provide an update on preseason practice.





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VIDEO: Inside Training Camp - Offensive Line

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Inside Training Camp - The Secondary | Inside Training Camp - Special Teams

Behind the Scenes - First Two-A-Day | Inside Training Camp - Defensive Line

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are in the heart of week two at training camp. The GoPSUsports.com Inside Training Camp feature series continues with a closer look at the offensive line.

Coach Herb Hand's unit strives to function as one cohesive unit every time it steps on the field. Building a strong rapport with one another on the field begins with time spent off the field. We take a closer look at the tight-knit offensive line off the field, in addition to center Angelo Mangiro wearing a mic on the practice field. Take a look.




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