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Bars Excited to be Back on the Field

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having waited a full year to put a helmet back on, defensive end Brad Bars couldn't help running onto the field on March 17 for Penn State's first spring practice with great excitement.

Bars has been eligible to play in 50 games since he stepped on campus in the fall of 2010.  He redshirted during his freshman campaign.  That coupled with leg and Achilles injuries have forced the Nashville, Tenn., native to miss 28 games during the past four seasons.

The senior ruptured his Achilles during a routine workout during summer conditioning prior to last season.  After a long road to recovery in the training room and countless hours of rehab, Bars is back on the field and ready to play a role on the Nittany Lion defensive line in 2014.

"I believe if I can stay healthy that I don't think there's anything I can't accomplish this season," Bars said.  "If I stay healthy I can do some pretty great things."


The Achilles injury rehab is ongoing, but Bars has been a full participant in non-contact drills this spring.  His fellow defensive teammates are fired up about his return to the field.

"It's great to have him back out there. He's really an intense guy," senior linebacker Mike Hull said. "Always goes 100 miles an hour. He's really smart and he helps a lot of the younger guys and even the older guys. He does a really good job of on-field coaching and telling guys what they need to work on. It's definitely an asset to have him back out there."

Always enthusiastic and upbeat, Bars faced the Achilles injury with a tremendous attitude.  Knowing he was going to be a spectator throughout the fall didn't deter Bars from helping the team in any manner possible.

"Last year was probably the hardest thing I've ever been through," Bars said. "Once I got hurt I looked at the big picture and said what can I do to help? I made a decision I had to contribute and help this team, right when I got injured, and I knew that if I stayed involved, there wouldn't be a transition coming back," Bars said.

The senior defensive end is poised to play an instrumental role on a talented Nittany Lion defensive line, which features a host of returnees with playing experience. Deion Barnes, C.J. Olaniyan, Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson all bring significant game experience to the field in 2014.

While the countdown clock for the UCF game in Dublin, Ireland, is at 148 days, Bars is thrilled to have the opportunity to make an impact.

"My teammates believe in me and they've seen what I can do in practices," Bars said.  "I have expectations of a veteran. My goals are to keep working and to keep progressing with my rehab."



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VIDEO: Spring Practice 10 Player Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four practices and nine days remain until the Nittany Lions take the field inside Beaver Stadium for the Blue-White Game on April 12 (1:30 p.m. kick).

In a spring marked by progress on both sides of the ball under the direction of head coach James Franklin, the Nittany Lion players are excited about the opportunity to get in front of the fans for the first time in 2014.

"It's something to look forward to during spring practice," senior safety Adrian Amos said.  "We don't have games to look forward to, so the Blue-White game is a big weekend, and we're excited to be back in Beaver Stadium."

As the team continues to get more reps in the new schemes installed on both sides of the ball, the Lions are beginning to feel more and more comfort with each passing practice.

"We have made a lot of progress each and every day as we get more acclimated into the scheme," Amos said.  "We are getting a lot more comfortable with the defense and working with each other."

"Things are going really well," sophomore running back Akeel Lynch said.  "We are gelling together.  Offense takes some time.  The concepts are getting into our heads, and we are starting to move faster."

Penn State completed its 10th practice of the spring on Wednesday afternoon.  The Lions practiced outdoors for the first time on Monday.  A portion of Wednesday's practice was outdoors, as well.  Senior kicker Sam Ficken ended Wednesday's practice with a 55-yard field goal, keeping the Nittany Lions from running sprints.

"Ficken has been money all of camp," 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 time."

The Nittany Lions will practice on Saturday before shifting into the final week of spring drills, which will feature three sessions before the Blue-White Game on April 12.







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Nittany Lions Making Good Progress During Spring Drills

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The first six sessions of Penn State's initial spring season under the direction of head coach James Franklin have been marked by progress.

The Nittany Lions completed their sixth practice of the allotted 15 on Wednesday inside Holuba Hall.  Penn State will practice eight more times leading up to the culmination of spring drills on April 12 at the Blue-White Game inside Beaver Stadium.

So far, the team is excited about the strides that have been made on a daily basis.

FB_Spring Blog_Practice 6.jpg"It's been awesome," senior guard Miles Dieffenbach said.  "You kind of can't get a feel for the coaching staff until you get on the field with them and see what they are really like.  They are awesome.  They are super enthusiastic.  They love the game, love our team and are really excited to be here."

Starting with a clean slate, the Nittany Lions have had the challenge of learning new systems installed on both sides of the ball.  Offensively, 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Christian Hackenberg thinks the first two weeks have been highlighted by improvement.

"I think that we have really bought into the system," Hackenberg said.  "We've gotten to meet.  We've gotten to see what each position coach expects out of us.  I think that you can see with each practice that we are getting a little better and a little better at the little things and the intricacies on the offense.  We're just looking to build on that.  I think it is really impressive how quickly we have progressed, and we are really excited."

Establishing timing and cohesiveness within the offense is the ongoing task the Nittany Lion offense will work on between now and the start of training camp in August.

"Hackenberg has done really well with the offense," Dieffenbach said.  "He's really starting to get things down, along with the wide receivers and running backs.  I'm pretty with how things are going so far."

Defensively, senior linebacker Mike Hull and junior cornerback Jordan Lucas know the unit has a long way to go, but both believe the defense has gotten significantly better in a short period of time.

"We have improved a ton," said Hull.  "The defenses are getting a lot easier.  They are becoming more natural.  The communication is definitely there.  Coach (Bob) Shoop has done a great job taking it step by step with us."

"There are going to be some growing pains because it is a new system, but we have a lot of smart guys on the field who know football," Lucas said.  "The system allows us to play.  We don't have to think as much.  We can go out there and play."

Whether it be developing the timing on offense or playing effectively within the defensive scheme, improvement is marked by chemistry on the field.

"We really want to just continuing building our offense and our defense," Dieffenbach said.  "We want to have a good feel for the schemes (by the end of spring).  Practice takes time, and you have to build the chemistry on the field."

Coach Franklin established core values for the program during his introductory press conference in January.  He said that the Nittany Lions would compete in everything they do.  That starts from the moment any player steps onto the practice field.

"It is a competition in everything we do," Lucas said.  "Whether it be one-on-ones, pass-blocking, team drills, everything is a competition.  That's how we treat it.  If we don't win, we are going to get you the next drill that we are doing."

"The intensity level is 1 million percent," Dieffenbach said.  "They have been super intense practices, but that is good because it brings the best out of guys and it will only make our team better."

On both sides of the ball, the Lions practice with the mindset that they want to win everything.

"We are all competitors at heart," Hackenberg said.  "We want to go out there and compete.  Each practice, each drill and each rep is an opportunity to do so.  It has really been made a focal point, and we love it.  It makes practice a lot more interesting, and you are really focused on that rep.  And that helps you in the grand scheme of things."

The competitive nature on the field will only help the Nittany Lions set the tone for how they want to play during the regular season.

"I really like the intensity from the coaches and their enthusiasm," Hull said.  "I think we have gotten a lot out of the practices so far.  I think what we have established thus far is really going to help us come fall."

In addition to practices being ultra-competitive, the sessions move at a swift pace.  From the moment any player steps onto the green surface of the practice field, he is running.

"The pace is very, very fast," Dieffenbach.  "We were used to that with some of our old practices.  But these ones are extremely high-paced.  We get our conditioning done during practice running from drill to drill.  There is no walking on the field."

The warp speed during practices will only help the Nittany Lions prepare for tempo any opposing team throws at them in the fall.

"I love it because it is only going to help us during the games," Lucas said.  "It helps us work on our communication and it helps us play fast."

While the Nittany Lions still have nine more chances to get better this spring, they are excited about the opportunity in front of them as they build towards the start of the 2014 season.

"I like that we are very young.  We have some guys who have quite a bit of experience with our tight ends and running backs, especially," Hackenberg said.  "I'm super excited about it.  We're in our infancy of learning this offense.  The spring game will come.  Then we will have the whole summer to work on our own with 7-on-7s together, and then camp will be here.  I think we have an opportunity to do something special.  We are really excited about it."



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VIDEO: Spring Practice One Sights and Sounds

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions returned to the practice field on Monday afternoon for their first of 15 spring practices.  Penn State practiced indoors on Monday with helmets and shorts.  The Lions are back on the field Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week.  Take a look through some sights and sounds from the first practice of 2014.




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Franklin, Nittany Lions Kick Off Spring Practice

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FB_Practice Blog_Spring.jpgVIDEO: Spring Practice I Sights & Sounds | Practice I Photo Gallery

James Franklin Press Conference Transcript - March 17



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Football is back in Happy Valley.

Head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions took the field inside Holuba Hall on Monday afternoon for the first of 15 spring practices.  Penn State will practice four days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) leading up to the culmination of spring drills at the 2014 Blue-White Game on April 12 in Beaver Stadium.

The Lions made good strides during the winter strength and conditioning program.  Now, Coach Franklin and the staff are excited to see how things translate onto the field during the spring practice season.

FB_Spring Practice_2.jpg"Just like I told the coaches and the players, we need to go out there with the mindset that we've been here for three years," Franklin said.  "We know how to practice.  We know what the expectations are.  We can't allow the fact that this is our first practice for us to use that as an excuse to not go out and fly around.  We need to go out and practice like a veteran team, like a veteran staff, and like a veteran organization, so that's kind of our goal is to hit the ground running."

With 26day window from the first spring practice and the Blue-White Game, the coaching staff has a four-week window to install everything it wants to between now and the start of fall camp in August.

"So we do basically 15 installs - offense, defense, special teams, run game, pass game, whatever it may be, and how we break it up," said Franklin. "They were able to get two or three of the installs in written form to look at before they left for spring break to have it with them over spring break, and then also video as well.  So, for example, install 1 of the defense may be Cover Two. They'll get that in writing, exactly what the responsibilities were, but then they'll also get film of examples of that coverage as well."

Franklin wants to see an up-tempo, energetic approach with a positive attitude each day during spring practice. 
The emphasis during the spring practice season is geared towards individual technique, improving fundamentals and consistency for the Nittany Lions.

Additionally, the Nittany Lion coaching staff will examine different players in different positions.  Among the position changes this spring, Derek Dowrey and Brian Gaia have moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard.  Albert Hall has moved from tight end to tackle.

Those moves were made to bolster the depth on the offensive line.  Additionally, Franklin confirmed on Monday that Anthony Zettel would move from defensive end to defensive tackle.  Zettel may continue to get looks at end, but playing on the interior will be his primary assignment.


"A big part of that is when I looked at the defensive line, we had a four-deep of scholarship players on the defensive line basically, four deep at defensive end, about three and a half deep at defensive tackles, nose guard and D‑tackle," said Franklin.  "The offensive line; we did not have a two-deep of scholarship players.  Not even a two-deep.  So, I just felt like we needed to make some moves."

On the defensive side of the ball, Franklin is pleased with the personnel and experience back for the Nittany Lions this season.

"I feel really good about our defense and about our secondary in general.  I really do," Franklin said.  "I think it's a little different on the defensive side of the ball compared to the offensive side of the ball.  Those guys are two deep on the secondary.  They've played a lot."

Franklin believes there is one area where the Nittany Lions can make a big jump in 2014.

"Probably as excited about special teams as any area on the team because if you look at us statistically the last year or so, it's the area for most improvement, I think," Franklin said.  "It's the area that we can make the biggest impact, and we're committed to playing the best players on special teams."

While there are several things Franklin and the coaching staff want to accomplish this spring, the primary item the new leader of Penn State Football wants to see is progress each time the team steps onto the field.  He wants to see an enthusiastic group with an undying work ethic.

"We're looking for guys that are going to run around and compete and have fun," Franklin said.  "That's one of the things I think is so important to find coaches, to find people, to find players that can work extremely hard, but while they're working extremely hard, they can have fun and enjoy themselves, and that's what I want to see."

The Nittany Lions will practice on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week.



Press Conference Notes:
- On players who have stepped up in leadership roles
"I think Hackenberg, obviously.  The position kind of calls for that, but he's a quiet leader.  He really is a quiet leader.  On offense, if I kept going, Dieffenbach has been another guy I've been impressed with.  He's kind of gone out of his way in that role.  I think it's important to him.  The tight ends are a quiet group overall.  The running backs are a quiet group overall.  They're probably the two guys that stand out to me the most.  On the defensive side of the ball, Hall is a quiet leader.  When he speaks, people listen.  When he does open his mouth to say something, it's well thought out and it's calculated.

"Jordan Lucas never lacks for something to say.  He enjoys talking and speaking his mind, and he's got a lot of personality, and he's very, very charismatic.  It's not always as well thought out before he says it.  It just comes out of his mouth.  He's a great kid, love him.  I think Amos is a quiet leader as well and has done some nice things.  They're the guys that when you say that jump out to me.  The guys that have gone out of their way."


- On contact at practice
"I think we can get a lot of work done with tag off, which is basically two‑hand touch, but you're doing it in an athletic position.  You've got to be able to legitimately when you watch the tape say that guy would have made the tackle.  He was in an athletic position.  He was down in a football position, bent down, good bend in his ankle, knees and hips, and was able to tag palms up with two hands on the ball carrier.  If not, they're going to run.  They're going to keep running to the ball carrier until they're able to do that.  I think you can get a lot of work done if you do it the right way and you demand the fundamentals and the technique in an athletic position."



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Galt Leading Nittany Lions Through Testing Week

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Photo Gallery - Bench Press Max Out

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While the Nittany Lion football team is just 13 days from returning to the practice field for the start of spring drills, the group is not thinking about putting the pads back on quite yet.

Led be Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt, the football squad is participating in a three-day physical testing period to measure the progress it has made since winter conditioning began in January and to set a baseline leading into the summer workout season.

9773521.jpegThe Nittany Lions kicked off the testing week on Monday by running the 40-yard dash inside Holuba Hall and maxing out on the bench press in the weight room.  Tuesday's testing features vertical testing, the shuttle run, broad jump and the power clean max out in the weight room.  The testing will culminate on Wednesday with a squatting max out session in the weight room.

"You always want to do the 40s first.  We only do them once a year, and you want to get a really good time," Galt said.  "We always do that first.  After that, we did the bench press.  Then, we have all of our movement stuff.  We have our pro shuttle, our vertical and our broad jump.  Then we have our power clean.  On Wednesday, we do our squat.  Because once you do the squat you are kind of done...The thing that I really believe in is that when they test, it is actually a training day for us."

The testing period is evaluated by something Galt calls a "T-Score".  The T-Score assigns values for each of the events during the testing.  The scale ranges from 1-100, with 75 the number each athlete strives for on each event.  Galt said that 75 or better is a good score, with a 90-100 score in the range of a higher draft pick in the NFL.  The score for each event is totaled before taking the average.  The final average is the number Galt hopes to see at 75 or higher.

"I have very high expectations here of what that T-Score will be," Galt said.

Roughly eight weeks into the winter conditioning program, Galt is confident in where the team is at during the final week of strength and conditioning before the student-athletes are off for spring break next week.  The team has lifted three days a week and conditioned during the early-morning hours the other two days.

"I feel good about where we are right now," Galt said.  "One thing you are going to find out about me is that we are an all-year around go (group).  We're going to lift on Friday after the winter workout.  Then, we will take basically nine days off (for spring break).  Then they come back.  And the spring ball weight training cycle is no different than the offseason.  It is the same thing.  We're going to crank all through spring ball."

Where has Galt seen the most progress since he arrived on campus in mid-January?

"I think they've done a great job with strength and power," Galt said.  "I had six really good speed workouts before we started our winter workouts...We've made really good progress there, but we have a ways to go (through the summer).  But from a strength and power standpoint, we're basically in our eighth week.  I think they've done a really good job increasing that area of gain with a good lean mass.  We've put some good size on the team.  We've set some really good body weight games."

The winter workout period is often a time where the team leaders for the upcoming season emerge.  The players battle through adversity in the weight room and during the conditioning tests, setting up an opportunity for the players to establish themselves as leaders.  While Galt mentioned a few names as guys who have evolved as leaders for the 2014 season, he said that the thing that impresses him most about the Nittany Lions is their workmanlike approach to every workout.

"We have great leadership," Galt said.  "The first week, we had no music (in the weight room).  You've got to earn the music.  Obviously, they've earned it because we are cleaning our ears out (laughter).  They had to earn that, but by in large, these guys are typically just roll the sleeves up, work and don't say much.  That's one thing that Coach Franklin and I'm working strongly is to get them to be more vocal.  But they work so stinking hard that you don't need the motivation.  They are very motivated."

The Nittany Lions are counting down the days before the start of spring practice, but they have an eye on the bigger picture.  The 2014 season is just around the corner, and they have one thing in mind.

"We want to be the hardest working team in the country.  No doubt.  We don't want anyone to be our peer in that area.  That's what we always strive for," Galt said.



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Busy March Begins with Two Big Ten Team Titles

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The postseason push for Penn State teams in March is on.

The first weekend of the month kicked off in fine fashion with two teams tallying Big Ten championships to go along with an individual being named the top performer at the Big Ten Men's Swimming & Diving Championships.

In dramatic fashion, the Nittany Lion women's track & field team notched its third conference crown at the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Saturday afternoon.  It all came down to the 4x400-meter relay with the Lions leading Michigan by just half a point heading into the final event.  The Lions stormed to a victory in the relay to seal the title.

"The women were outstanding today," said Director of Track & Field and Head Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Michigan pressed us hard throughout the weekend, but we kept our composure and competed great. This is a championship win to remember."

Roughly 45 minutes after the women's track & field team was crowned champion, the Lady Lion basketball team finished off a 77-62 triumph over Michigan to clinch a share of its third-straight Big Ten regular season title.  The Lady Lions join Ohio State and Iowa as the only programs to win three or more consecutive Big Ten titles.

"It's the first time in program history that we have won three Big Ten Championships in a row," head coach Coquese Washington said. "When this program has such a storied legacy, to be able to do something that this program hasn't done before, it's pretty hard. The program has accomplished so much and for this class and team to do something that sets them apart, that's really cool."

In the pool, sophomore Shane Ryan capped off a strong outing for the Nittany Lion men's swimming team by becoming the first Penn State men's swimmer to be named Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships on Saturday.  Ryan broke the Big Ten record in the 100m freestyle, topping a mark set by former Northwestern Wildcat and 2012 London Olympics medalist Matt Grevers.  Ryan is the first Nittany Lion to win two individual gold medals at the Big Ten Championships.  His efforts powered the men's team to fifth in the team standings.  The men's team's performance came one week after the Nittany Lion women's swimming & diving team took third at the Big Ten Women's Championships.

With a standout weekend in the books, the Nittany Lions are full steam ahead in postseason mode beginning on Friday when the Lady Lions kick off play as the No. 1 seed at the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis.  Penn State will meet either Northwestern or Ohio State at noon (BTN) on Friday.  The semifinals take place on Saturday, with the tournament final on Sunday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. 

On Saturday, the three-time defending NCAA champion Penn State wrestling team will begin its Big Ten title defense at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.  Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions will look for their fourth-straight Big Ten title over the weekend.  Additionally, seniors Ed Ruth and David Taylor have an opportunity to become Penn State's first four-time Big Ten individual champions.  Junior Matt Brown is the third Nittany Lion in the lineup with a Big Ten individual title.  The Big Ten finals will air live on BTN Sunday at 2 p.m.

There are several marquee events on the horizon following the action this weekend.  The 2014 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is slated to begin on March 13 in Indianapolis.  The Nittany Lion men's hoops team will finish off its regular season this week with games at Northwestern and Minnesota.  The Lions will learn their seed for the tournament on Sunday.

The track and field squads will also be in action during the third weekend in March.  Penn State will travel to Albaquerque for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14-15.

Head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lion football team will wrap up winter conditioning this week in preparation for the start of spring practice on March 17.  The Nittany Lions will practice 15 times before the Blue-White Game on April 12 (1:30 p.m.).

The fourth weekend of March will feature no fewer than six postseason events for Penn State teams.  The No. 1 wrestling team will begin its NCAA title defense on March 20 in Oklahoma City at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships.  The finals will take place on March 22.  The ESPN family of networks will televise all six of the NCAA Wrestling Championships sessions.

In Happy Valley, the women's gymnastics team plays host to the Big Ten Championships in Rec Hall on March 22.  Across campus, the Bryce Jordan Center is slated to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.  Games are slated for 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on March 23 and 7 p.m. on March 25.

Out of town, the first Big Ten Hockey Tournament will take place in Saint Paul, Minn., beginning on March 20.  The NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships begin on March 20 in Minneapolis, as well.  The Penn State fencing teams also kick of NCAA Championships competition in Columbus on March 20.

The month will wrap up with a weekend featuring the NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, which begin on March 27 in Austin, Texas.  The Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships begin on March 28 in Lincoln, Neb.

With two titles already in hand, it will be a busy month ahead for Penn State teams competing in postseason competition.  Stay tuned for complete coverage of the postseason push on GoPSUsports.com.


Key Dates Ahead in March

March 7 -
Noon (BTN) - Lady Lions vs. Ohio State/Northwestern (Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals - Indianapolis)
March 8 - 11 a.m./6 p.m. - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 9
- 12/2 p.m. (BTN) - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 13-16 - Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament (Indianapolis)
March 14-15 - NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships (Albuquerque, N.M.)
March 17 - First Day of Spring Football
March 20-22 - NCAA Wrestling Championships (Oklahoma City, Okla.); NCAA Fencing Championships (Columbus, Ohio); NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships (Minneapolis, Minn.); Big Ten Men's Hockey Tournament (Saint Paul, Minn.)
March 22 - 12/5 p.m. - Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships (University Park, Pa.)
March 23 - 12:30/3 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball First Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 25 - 7 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball Second Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 27-29 - NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships (Austin, Texas)
March 28-29 - Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)



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VIDEO: All Access Winter Workouts - Coach Spencer Mic'd Up

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Take an inside look at one of Penn State's 5:30 a.m. workouts with defensive line coach Sean "Chaos" Spencer.  We had Coach Spencer mic'd up for a morning session to give you an exclusive look at winter workouts.  The Nittany Lions have one more week of winter workouts before spring break.  Spring drills begin on March 17.





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VIDEO: All Access Winter Workouts - Coach Huff Mic'd Up

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Take an inside look at one of Penn State's 5:30 a.m. workouts with special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff.  We had Coach Huff mic'd up for a session.





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Penn State Athletics THON 2014 Coverage

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 42nd IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.

A record 711 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer.  THON raised a record of more than $13.3 million in 2014.  To date, more than $110 million has been raised by THON.

Several Penn State student-athletes danced in the annual dance marathon.  Representing the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) will be Maggie Harding from women's volleyball, Natalie Buttinger from field hockey, Erin Kehoe from women's soccer and Christian Kaschak from men's soccer.


Additionally, Nicole Williams and Elise Potter from the Lionettes squad and Eugene Bodden, Kali Fleckenstein, Carrie Tedesco and Ally Zimmerman from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.

Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally and team dance competition.

We would also like to congratulate Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Rachel Steinberg, as she danced over the weekend, in addition to the several student assistants actively involved with THON.

Take a look through our THON weekend updates on the involvement Penn State Athletics. To donate to THON, please visit THON.org.


Friday Coverage:

3:30 p.m. - Feature: Student-Athletes Set to Dance for Pediatric Cancer

Click here to read a feature on the student-athletes participating in THON 2014 - Feature Story


6 p.m. - THON 2014 Begins
The 711 dancers took their feet at 6 p.m. before an energetic crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center to begin 46-straight hours on their feet.

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11 p.m. - Interview on the Floor
GoPSUsports.com talked with women's volleyball senior Maggie Harding on the floor about her experience during THON.


Saturday Coverage:

3 p.m. - Student-Athletes Host Make-A-Wish Families
Several teams hosted THON Make-A-Wish families on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON 2014 festivities.

More than 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed nearly 40 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.

The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year.  The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

Head coach James Franklin greeted the group when it arrived at the facility tour before senior Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore Akeel Lynch led families on tours.  Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Photo Gallery - THON Make-A-Wish Football Event



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5 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the Bryce Jordan Center during athlete hour on Saturday.  Take a look.




9:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally.  In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2014 version of the dance-off.

With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition for the second-straight year.  We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. 

Photo Gallery - THON 2014 Pep Rally



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Team Dances
Men's Swimming (Champions) - Full Dance
Football - Full Dance
Men's Basketball - Full Dance
Women's Volleyball - Full Dance
Men's Gymnastics - Full Dance
Women's Tennis - Full Dance
Field Hockey - Full Dance
Fencing - Full Dance
Men's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Lacrosse - Full Dance
Women's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Golf - Full Dance


11:05 p.m. - Student-Athlete Dancer Interviews: Hour 30
GoPSUsports.com talks with THON 2014 dancers Natalie Buttinger (field hockey) and Erin Kehoe (women's soccer) during the 30th hour of their 46-hour quest at THON.



Sunday Coverage:

12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2014

Head coach James Franklin took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to continuing working hard in their final push at the 46-hour marathon.  Franklin spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Take a look.



 
4:11 p.m. - THON 2014 Raises Record $13.3 Million
THON 2014 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $13,343,517.33 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2014.  Here is a look at the reveal on the Rec Hall video board following Sunday's Penn State wrestling victory over Clarion.

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