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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.'s Inside Training Camp series continues today with a closer look at the relationship between Penn State's quarterbacks and receivers.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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'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.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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 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's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Seven Captains to Lead Nittany Lions in 2014

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Garnering respect from your peers is the ultimate honor for a student-athlete.

Penn State Football held a voting process where each player on the roster selected his captains for the offense, defense and special teams. Head coach James Franklin announced the results of the vote in Tuesday afternoon's team meeting.

On defense, seniors Mike Hull and C.J. Olaniyan were selected. On offense, senior Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore Christian Hackenberg were tabbed. On special teams, seniors Sam Ficken, Ryan Keiser and Jesse Della Valle were named captains.

All seven players embody the role of a teammate. Each guy is looked upon as a role model in the locker room. Now, the seven captains will lead the Nittany Lions in 2014 with utmost dignity and class while understanding the importance of the responsibility now on their shoulders.

"The players and the coaches voted on the team captains and these players have clearly earned the respect of their teammates and coaches," Franklin said. "We are trying to promote and develop leadership throughout the entire program and I'm really excited about the role our captains will have throughout the season."

At the conclusion of 2013, Hull took a more active role as a team leader heading into his senior season. The highly-productive, instinctive and physical player on defense and special teams should merit All-Big Ten and CoSIDA Academic All-America consideration this season. He was named first-team preseason All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports and Lindy's and second-team all-conference by Phil Steele's College Football Preview. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Hull earned his degree in finance in May.

"It's just a great honor to be captain here at a program like Penn State," Hull said. "All of the guys who are captains have worked hard since the day we arrived. It's an honor, and I can't be more excited to get the year started."

On track to graduate this week with a degree in criminology,
Olaniyan possesses excellent physical attributes, instincts and desire. He led the squad with five sacks for minus-45 yards and was second on the team with 11.0 tackles for loss (minus-64) last season. The quick and elusive athlete, who started all 12 games, earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors and should be a candidate for all-conference accolades during his fifth-year senior season.

"It means a lot to me. It means that all the hard work is being noticed," Olaniyan said. "I'm very humbled, very proud, and I couldn't do it without my family, my teammates and the man upstairs."

Entering 2014, Dieffenbach is the most experienced member of the offensive line and is an established team leader.
The talented, tough and intense player has been a fixture at the left guard position since he grabbed the starting spot prior to the 2012 season-opener. Dieffenbach graduated with a degree in advertising/public relations in May with a cumulative 3.27 grade-point average. He is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

"It's one of the greatest honors I've ever had in my life," Dieffenbach said. "It means a lot for the other players and coaches to think of me as that type of leader for the football team. Hopefully, myself and the other captains can lead this team to a great season."

For the first time in program history, a sophomore has been voted captain of the Nittany Lions. Hackenberg's leadership traits on and off the field speak volumes about his reputation in the locker room as a sophomore.
The vastly talented and instinctive Virginia native was named the nation's No. 8 overall quarterback by Lindy's and the Big Ten's best passing quarterback by Sporting News. Hackenberg also was selected second-team preseason All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports and Lindy's. The former Fork Union Military Academy All-American became just the second true freshman quarterback to start a Penn State season-opener since 1911 and started all 12 games. Hackenberg was selected the 2013 Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Year.

"It means the world to me," Hackenberg said. "We've worked really hard together this offseason. I just try to be the best teammate I could be for each and every one of these guys. I'm going to continue to try and do that with this honor. It comes with a lot of responsibility, and I think us as a core group will do a great job."

The dedicated and determined Ficken has a strong and accurate leg and should be an All-Big Ten candidate this fall. One of the squad's hardest workers on and off the field, he earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition in 2013. After connecting on his final 10 field goal attempts of the 2012 season, Ficken was true on his first five attempts last year to boost his consecutive made streak to 15, breaking Craig Fayak's school record of 13 straight field goals in 1992. The former Valparaiso High School all-state player delivered the longest field goal by a Penn State player in home game history when he knocked in a 54-yard attempt in the rain against Kent State. The Dean's List student owned a 3.59 cumulative grade-point average in finance entering the summer and is on schedule to graduate in December.

"Obviously, it is a tremendous honor. A lot of times specialists are not in this position to be a captain," Ficken said. "I'm embracing the opportunity to set an example of how to lead and work on and off the field."

The talented, athletic and instinctive Della Valle has played in every contest the past two seasons on defense and special teams. Last season, his second as the team's primary punt returner, he ranked fourth in the Big Ten with an 8.7-yard average on his 18 returns. The Pittsburgh native is the epitome of a core special teams contributor, and he is willing to do anything necessary to help the team be successful. One of the squad's top students, Della Valle owned a 3.38 cumulative grade-point average after the spring semester. He graduated with a degree in advertising and public relations in May.

"It's almost surreal for me because I have come a long way after walking on here," Della Valle said. "We've been through a lot here, and it's the same for Keiser. Knowing all of the great players from here and all of the captains, it is an extreme honor. I'm extremely honored to be in this position. To have the support of my teammates, I'm ready to lead those guys and go out there and have a great season."

Keiser is a talented player with good instincts and a nose for the ball, a combination that will have him playing a significant role during his fifth-year senior season. Keiser has been a consistently productive player on defense and special teams, playing in 36 of a possible 37 career games the past three seasons. A fixture on each of the special teams unit during the vast majority of the last two seasons, the Central Pennsylvania native is poised to again play a paramount role on special teams this fall. Keiser owns a 3.37 grade-point average, made the Dean's List last spring and is a potential CoSIDA Academic All-America candidate. The two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree is on schedule to graduate this week with a degree in kinesiology.

"It's a great honor to be a captain with some awesome guys," Keiser said. "I really respect everyone on the team. The group is out here working hard every day. It's a great honor to voted captain by such a great group of guys."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Behind the Scenes at the First Two-A-Day

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions participated in their first two-a-day of training camp over the weekend. Additionally, the two practices coincided with a visit from the Big Ten Network's traveling bus and the team's first trip to Beaver Stadium during fall camp. takes an inside look at the production behind the Big Ten Network's preview show during its visit to Happy Valley and highlights the evening scrimmage under the lights in the stadium.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Breaking Down the Football Roster Geographically

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions kicked off week two of training camp practice on Monday. Additionally, this week marks the final one of the second academic session of the summer. Classes during the summer session end on Friday. The fall semester begins on Aug. 25.

With two more weeks of camp to go before game week, took a look inside the roster and its geographic breakdown. Simply put, the 2014 Penn State Football roster is one with significant geographic diversity. In all, Penn State has student-athletes from 21 states, the District of Columbia, Australia and Canada.

The 2014 roster consists of 93 players from states within a 350-mile radius of State College. Pennsylvania leads the way with 51 players hailing from in-state areas. New Jersey is second on the list with 15 players from the Garden State. There are nine players from Maryland and seven from Virginia. Florida is fifth on the list with four Nittany Lions from the Sunshine State.

Take a look at the full breakdown:

Penn State 2014 Roster Geographic Breakdown
Pennsylvania - 51

Alabama - 3

California - 2

Connecticut - 1

Delaware - 3

Florida - 4

Georgia - 2

Illinois - 3

Indiana - 1

Kansas - 1

Massachusetts - 2

Maryland - 9

Michigan - 3

North Carolina - 2

New Hampshire - 1

New Jersey - 15

New York - 3

Ohio - 2

Tennessee - 1 

Texas - 1

Virginia -  7

Washington, D.C. - 1

Australia - 1

Canada - 2

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Inside Training Camp - Defensive Line

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

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer sets the tone with his unit the moment they walk into the meeting room.

Spencer calls his group "wild dogs" because he wants them to treat pursuit of the ball on the gridiron like a group hunting in a pack. The end result is an attacking mentality from the Nittany Lion defensive linemen in every thing they do. From the meeting room to drills on the field during training camp, Spencer's unit is aggressive.

The leader of the defensive line put on a mic to give an all access look into what goes into a day of training camp for the D-Line.

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VIDEO: Inside Training Camp - Special Teams

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Inside Training Camp - The Secondary

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The second installment of Inside Training Camp takes the fans all access with special teams coordinator Charles Huff for a look at the importance of special teams play.

The Nittany Lions devote a great deal of time to special teams to ensure that all three phases of the game are executed at the highest possible level. From the film room to the practice field, the players understand the importance of details when it comes to each aspect of special teams.

"It's consistency. You've got to evaluate consistency," Huff said. "You want to see the guys consistently performing all of the tasks that you want them to do. It's my job; it's the staff's job to look at who is consistently doing what they have to do. Are they going to make mistakes? Absolutely. But you look at who's coming out and getting better every day, who's working at mastering their technique, and those are the guys who are going to make the difference on special teams."

Huff invited inside a special teams meeting and was mic'd up during practice to provide all access for another look inside training camp.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony