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2017 Max Out Day

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's Max Out Day in Happy Valley as Nittany Lion assistant athletic director for Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt met with members of the media to review the winter training session. Check out what you missed from the media session. 

Flip through the photo gallery to check out images from all the action, as Penn State wrapped up its winter training.

VIDEO: Penn State NFL Pro Day

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com

2017 Pro Day Central (Results)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lasch Football Building and Holuba Hall were bustling this afternoon as 11 Nittany Lions participated in Penn State's 2017 Pro Day. 

The annual event features both mental and physical testing, designed to give representatives from a variety of NFL teams a closer look at the Nittany Lions, all in anticipation for the 2017 NFL Draft slated for Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29 in Philadelphia.

Today's itinerary kicked off with Wonderlic testing to start the morning. Other items for the day included meetings and interviews with scouts and NFL personnel as well as height, weight, hand and arm measurements.

On the physical side of things, testing included a 225-pound bench as well as broad and vertical jumps. Agility testing featured the 40-yard dash, shuttle and the L cone drill among individual workouts.

Catch up with a few of the Nittany Lions following their Pro Day performances for updates on the day as well as look at some preparation leading up to the highly anticipated day. 

Chris Godwin, wide receiver
Coming off a standout performance at the NFL Combine, Godwin noted that the success in Indianapolis provided some momentum headed into Pro Day. 

"It gave me a lot of confidence because there was that validation that I could really play with the best guys in the country," Godwin said, looking back on his combine experience.  "My numbers really stood up to all of theirs so it gave me a lot of confidence moving forward." 

Godwin also relied on teammates and coaches for mental and physical preparation, having declared for the draft just after the Rose Bowl. 

"They really helped me, whether it was on the field getting me ready to perform as far as routes or in the classroom just what to expect," Godwin said.


Evan Schwan, defensive end
After earning a spot in the starting lineup, Schwan completed his senior senior on a high note, earning All-Big Ten third team honors by the conference coaches and media. Immediately following the Rose Bowl, Schwan and Brian Gaia headed to Tampa, Florida to begin a grueling training session leading up to pro day. 

"Training with some NFL vets was really cool, kind of getting their opinion on everything, what to do, what not to do, preparing for the next level," Schwan said. "It was a lot of hard work. A lot of days waking up really early, trying to get to bed as early as possible, trying to get as much sleep, a lot of hard work and some of the hardest workouts I've ever done and I feel like that paid off today."


Brian Gaia, offensive line
Along with training with Schwan, Brian Gaia also relied on the support of the Nittany Lion coaching staff for Pro Day preparations.

"I think I hit my numbers, got what I wanted to and everything," Gaia said. "I think coach Limegrover and all the other coaches do a really good job making sure we have the football stuff down and then the running stuff we learn as we go."


Brandon Bell, linebacker
Brandon Bell also hit the Sunshine State for his Pro Day preparation, channeling months of hard work into just single day of work.

"I feel like it went well, I definitely accomplished what I wanted to, I put in a lot of work from the last few months into one day so it felt good," Bell said.


Garrett Sickels, defensive end

Also coming off an appearance at the NFL Combine, Sickels utilized pro day as an opportunity to regroup from the experience, capitalizing on a second look. Along with Godwin, Sickels opted to forgo his final year of eligibility with Penn State to enter the NFL Draft.

"During the Combine I just felt I wasn't myself and didn't perform the way I wanted to," Sickels said. "Leading up to today I just needed to relax and do everything I was taught, and I was able to do that."




Malik Golden, safety
Concluding his final season in the Blue and White, Golden took things from each position coach throughout his time as Nittany Lion in preparation for his Pro Day debut. 

"It was a lot of nerves, I didn't really sleep that well last night, but I'm happy with the results," Golden said. "You always feel like you can do better but I'm proud of where I stand right now."


Nyeem Wartman-White, linebacker
After an injury sidelined Wartman-White for the remaining 11 games of the season, Wartman-White said that the best part of pro day might simply be participating.

"I was supposed to do the drills 55 to 75 percent and I think I did them around there, maybe higher," Wartman-White said.


Tyler Yazujian, long snapper
Earning back-to-back CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in his final two seasons for the Nittany Lions, Yazujian completed his career as Penn State's long snapper from 2014 through 2016 before making his pro day debut.

"Today went well," Yazujian said. "It was exciting to see all the seniors out here putting in all the work they've been doing the past couple months and putting on a show."

For Yazujian, Pro Day preparations meant getting leaner, stronger and faster along in addition to his usual snapping responsibilities.

"I was happy with my athletic tests," Yazujian said. "I showed I could move a little bit for a snapper. And then I snapped pretty well, so I'm pretty happy overall with today."

Staff Challenges Nittany Lions to Dodgeball Tournament

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As winter workouts are winding down before spring break, the Nittany Lion coaching staff decided to switch things up this morning, as head coach James Franklin issued a different kind of challenge to the team. 

"We have goals of where we want to go, Big Ten championships, national championships, but we are going to end this the right way and the way you're going to do it is you're going to compete, and the hardest thing you're going to do is you're going to compete against my team," Franklin said to a huddled up group Thursday morning.

Franklin's challenge? A dodgeball tournament.

Just as quickly as the challenge was issued, it was accepted, with the entire staff bursting through the doors at Holuba Hall running out to the sounds of loud cheers from the stunned group of Nittany Lions. 

"Players versus coaches, he has his team and we got our team," Saeed Blacknall said, swapping out his practice cleats for some more dodgeball appropriate footwear.

Geared up for competition, the team and staff members trekked across University Drive from Holuba to the Bryce Jordan Center, setting up inside the practice gymnasium.

With the Nittany Lions in normal practice attire, the staff took a little bit of a different approach, decked out in some vintage men's lacrosse jerseys.

A line of brightly colored dodgeballs in red, green, yellow and blue served as the only barrier separating the players from the staff, but for only a moment as both sides went racing toward each other at the sound of the first whistle. The sidelines quickly began filling with unlucky participants who soon joined in cheering on the remaining members of their squad.

The winner?

It looks that might still be out for debate.

 

 Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

James Franklin Visits THON 2017

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just before 11:30 a.m. on Sunday Penn State Football head coach James Franklin dropped by the Bryce Jordan Center for a quick moment on the stage. Kicking off the final four hours of the event, Franklin brought daughters Addison and Shola on stage with Nittany Lion dancer Charlie Shuman. 

"What you guys are doing is unbelievable, 46 hours dancing straight to make a difference in families and children's lives and to beat pediatric cancer is unbelievable," Franklin said. "I'm so proud of you guys."

Franklin also gave a special shoutout to Shuman, who will have completed the 46 hour dance marathon in just a few short hours. 

"Your commitment to sacrifice and serve others is what THON is all about and why we're so proud to be a part of this Penn State community."

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Shola and Addison closed out the appearance leading the packed BJC in a "We Are" chant. 

Browse a few more pictures from the session below. 

VIDEO: Football THON 2017 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another highly anticipated THON event, check out football's full pep rally dance!

Penn State Football THON Explorers

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A highly anticipated of the year for Penn State Football, the Nittany Lions welcomed nearly 50 THON families for a fun-filled afternoon at the Lasch Building.


Together, the Penn State football staff transformed the home of the Nittany Lions into a Candy Land themed event decked out with exciting games and even an ice cream bar at the fueling station.
Several members of the team lined the meeting room hallway welcoming each of the families with high fives and hugs. After gathering in the squad room, linebacker Jason Cabinda introduced the team and paired the Nittany Lions with each family before sending everyone out to explore.

THON families were treated to a limbo contest and miniature golf just to name a few, as they toured through the building taking time for a sneak peek at the Penn State locker room.

"Walking into the weight room and the locker room and seeing the jaw drops, seeing the big smiles running around, it's awesome," Ryan Bates said.

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The tour eventually spilled out into the practice field where the team joined families and children on a perfect day outside in Happy Valley.

"Coach Franklin does a really good job putting us in positions to give back so we really appreciate the time that we have with these families," Mark Allen said.

Check out a few more photos from the THON Explorers event.

THON: Lip Sync Battle Featuring Special Guest

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Quarterback Trace McSorley and linebacker Jason Cabinda took to the stage at THON for a lip sync battle around 8 p.m. Friday night with a few THON family members. Prior to the Nittany Lion football team's performance, the Lionettes debuted a lip sync dance to open competition. IMG_3534.JPG

The lip sync battle quickly turned to from competition to fun as DNCE, led by lead singer Joe Jonas surprised the crowd with an upbeat an energetic performance. Check out some highlights from the event below.

THON Features: Shuman Set to Dance for a Cure

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ever since high school, Penn State's Charlie Shuman knew he would eventually dance at THON. Come Friday, he will join three other Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) representatives on floor at the Bryce Jordan Center for a 46-hour challenge unlike any other. 

As a football's SAAB representative, Shuman saw an email from head chair Angela Widlacki (women's soccer) in the fall asking if anyone had interest in dancing in THON 2017.  All he needed to do was reply and Widlacki would respond with instructions for interested candidates. 

"There were five of us in total who emailed in that we wanted to dance," Shuman said. "The thing with our organization is, since we're so busy as athletes, the big thing is that the top four people who raise the most amount of money will pretty much be selected." 

With a minimum fundraising goal set at $2,800, Shuman got work. He participated in the 100 Days 'til THON merchandise sale as well as a few other events that he could credit toward his total, even reaching out to family members and friends, all for the cause. In his hometown of Pittsford, New York, he set up donation boxes in each of the 22 physical therapy clinics owned by his parents. 

When the time came to submit numbers, Shuman's donations boxes totaled around $1,000, with his initial fundraising total coming in at about $3,500. He made it.

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"It all added up," Shuman said.

As registration deadlines for dancers drew closer, Widlacki gathered the group of four SAAB dancer candidates who met the fundraising goal for a meeting at 9 p.m. in East Area Locker Room.

"She sat us down and said, 'I already talked to Megan [Schafer] earlier and you guys are all so close with your money that you're going to have to write an essay,'" Shuman said.

Immediately disappointed, Shuman and the other three dancers slowly opened their laptops to get busy on the essay before Widlacki quickly exclaimed she was just kidding, they were all selected as dancers for THON 2017.

This weekend won't be Shuman's first trip to THON though, an energetic event widely regarded as the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

His freshman year he went for two hours and stayed in the stands at the Bryce Jordan Center. Last year that changed.

"Last year, my friend actually danced so I went down and saw her on the floor," Shuman said. "The floor is completely different from just sitting in the stands. I waited for like 13 hours just to get down on the floor."

Overcome with the electric energy on the floor, the experience only furthered his decision this fall. 

It wasn't exactly THON as an entire event that sparked his initial interest though, as his passion for helping families in need goes back to high school.

Shuman started "Big Helping Little" with the support of his family in high school as a project to organize fundraising efforts to benefit a local family from his hometown with a daughter suffering from a rare genetic mutation. 

It's his roots in the success of the project that give him something to look forward to the most. 

"Dealing with that and seeing how everything effected the family I helped initially, and now being able to dance and see all of the families down there dancing, interacting and taking themselves out of what they struggle with every single day is awesome," Shuman said.

Along with three other SAAB representatives and a host of morale captains and other THON volunteers surrounding him, Shuman's family will also be up for the entire weekend to show their support. 

"They are my two dancer support tickets so I'm guaranteed to see them at least twice during the weekend," Shuman said. "I don't know how long or when because they aren't supposed to tell us the time." 

With winter workouts underway, juggling everything from classes and lift sessions can present a bit of a challenge, but Shuman's not backing down from his usual schedule. 

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Come Thursday, Shuman will lift with the team as usual following a morning workout and then take only Friday off before THON begins. He'll be back at it by Monday.

With just a few days remaining, all that's left to do now is pack.

"They have a bunch of lockers in one room for us to put our stuff into, but it's really small. I think they are three feet by one foot," Shuman said.

As a six-foot-eight offensive lineman, that could make things a little interesting for Shuman when it comes to packing.

On the list so far, he has three pairs of shoes, flip flops, recovery pants and a Go Pro camera. 

"I'm still trying to figure it out, especially all of the little things," Shuman said with a laugh.

 A typical THON packing list suggests dancers bring a few extra shirts. 

"Obviously it's going to be hot and I'm not a small person," Shuman said. "I'm going to pack like eight shirts. They say like two or three, but that is not going to get me through the week." 

Shuman and the rest of the SAAB representatives take floor at the Bryce Jordan Center to begin their dance for the cure at 6 p.m. Friday. 

Looking Back at Penn State Football Signing Day

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Penn State Football National Signing Day
-      Visual Recap: Looking back at the newest Nittany Lions during their official visit weekends

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - National signing day for Penn State Football is day of growth and this year was no different as the Nittany Lions looked toward the future to welcome its newest members of the family.

"Today is a day to celebrate all the hard work that the coaches, the families have put in, the players have put in," head coach James Franklin said. "It's a special day for these young people. Made probably the most important decision of their life up to this point."

Franklin arrived at 5 a.m., before the celebration officially started to pick up with the entire Penn State football staff, a group of cheerleaders and special guests filling the Lasch Football Building shortly after 6:30 a.m. The office fax machine, tucked away behind the action though, and perhaps the most important item of the day, was up and running bright and early too. 

Penn State's first signee came through before verification at 7:30 a.m., as quarterback Sean Clifford (Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Xavier) was the first member to officially join the family. Signing day emcee Jevin Stone (Penn State Football video coordinator) opened the ceremony, before Penn State director of athletics Sandy Barbour announced Clifford's signing and placed his signing day magnet on the signature "big board."

Less than 10 minutes later, offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe (Glenshaw, Pa., Central Catholic), was the second Nittany Lion to make it official, with the packed room once again erupting in cheers and excitement.

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Special guests including Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky, Penn State University President Dr. Eric Barron, Penn State Deputy Athletic Director Phil Esten, as well as proud Nittany Lion alums like Matt McGloin and representatives from the Penn State Blue Band and Nittanyville all joined in on the announcement process presenting picks, along with others too.

National letters of intent (NLI) continued to pour in as Penn State verified a total of 16 letters of intent in the early part of the morning. Tariq Castro-Fields (Upper Marlboro, Md., Riverdale Baptist) was the final member of the class to sign on signing day with his letter of intent approved just after 4 p.m.

Penn State officially welcomed 17 in its 2017 signing day class, while also including the same unique announcements for four early enrollees who already arrived on campus at the start of the spring semester.

The 16 individual announcements featured a special FaceTime session with signees, family members and different staff members, all projected on several televisions hung from walls in the specially fashioned "war room."

The 2017 class features 14 signees tabbed as either a four or five-star recruit by at least of of the major four recruiting sites. Among the group, defensive back and early enrollee Lamont Wade (Clairton, Pa., Clairton) is a five-star prospect. Wade, Pennsylvania's top-ranked recruit, marks the second consecutive season Penn State has signed the top prospect in the state since signing Miles Sanders a year ago. It also marks the first time since 2005 that Penn State has signed the No. 1 recruit in Pennsylvania in back-to-back classes. [MORE]. 

By position, the 2017 class features 12 Nittany Lions from the defensive side of the ball and nine from the offensive side. Looking closer, the class breaks into five defensive backs, four defensive linemen, three linebackers, four offensive linemen, three wide receivers, one quarterback and one running back.

In the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work, Penn State's 2017 signing day class was tabbed third in Big Ten, by all three major recruiting outlets heading into the end of the day. 

For Franklin though, the group represents the culmination off a full-staff effort with the result yielding just the right mix of Nittany Lions who will blend perfectly into the already outstanding culture that is Penn State Football.

"The type of football players is important," Franklin said. "Obviously that's where it starts. But the type of students they are, the type of people they are, the type of communities they come from, the families they come from, then ultimately the fit. We've got a great locker room right now. Our chemistry and our culture is really good. We want to bring people that are going to come in and they're going to complement that, they're going to build on that."

A Bit About the DBs
The framework of Penn State's recruiting class features five defensive backs, all from five different states (and one country too), who bring a mix of speed and athleticism among a host of other unique qualities.

Among the group, Smith noted that five-star Lamont Wade, was someone who he had been recruiting for four years, even before arriving at Penn State.

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"Lamont will have the opportunity to play on both sides of the ball," Smith said. "I think the focal point through spring is to make sure he learns and understands defensive back because that's going to be his focal point. Once he learns that then obviously we want to try and get him into the return game and try and get him some spot touches on offense." 

Looking at the entire group though, Smith noted that there's already a solid group of veterans for the newcomers to rely on, who will all be imperative pieces when it comes to mentoring with leadership and veteran experience.

"I think when you look at the entire group of DBs, I think they all have an opportunity to come in and make an impact," Smith said. "You just never know which one will grasp it."

The Offensive Line
Franklin was particularly fired up about the offensive line, noting that for the first time, the unit could potentially become a strength for the Nittany Lions, especially building off of improvements from this year.

Penn State signed four offensive linemen in the 2017 class, all from either Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio, as well as an average of less than 200 miles from the University Park area.

Among the group, Franklin noted that early enrollee Mike Miranda (Stow, Ohio, Stow-Munroe) has the ability to fill interior roles at center or guard. Along with Miranda, C.J. Thorpe, whose father played at Penn State from 1985-88 as both a linebacker and a halfback, also brings a level of pure toughness in his total approach.

Franklin also highlighted that Robbie Martin (Sparta, N.J., St. Joseph Regional) could offer the Nittany Lions options at a variety of positions, while Des Holmes (West Norriton, Pa., Cardinal O'Hara) brings tremendous size at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds. 

As mentioned with Miranda and Thorpe, the common theme between the four though, is a unique level of toughness, or a true "nasty demeanor" on the field, a trait that Franklin expressed as coveted among coaches but difficult to find. 

"If you look really at this entire offensive line recruiting class, they all show that," Franklin said. 

On The Media Circuit
Franklin also took to a busy media circuit schedule on signing day to discuss the success of the class and the day's festivities.
 

Among a wealth of live interviews and appearances, Franklin joined Shae Peppler from Campus Insiders to highlight the class.

 

Franklin also called into FOX Sports' The Audible, a podcast hosted by Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel. Skip to the 11:30 mark in the episode for Franklin's remarks on the class.

 

Franklin also video conferenced in with Nick Kostos, Barton Simmons and Brady Quinn from FOX Sports to talk signing day and the newest members of the Nittany Lion football family.


Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda also joined the annual signing day live stream as a guest co-host. To replay the live show featuring special guest appearances from coaches Terry Smith, Josh Gattis and James Franklin, athletic director Sandy Barbour and Nittany Lions KJ Hamler, Mike Gesicki and Marcus Allen in addition to a few recruiting experts. Replay the show below.

Year-End Press Conference Notebook

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Transcript: James Franklin

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the midst of a busy recruiting weekend on campus, Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Saturday morning for a year-end press conference. 

Franklin spent time reflecting on the historic season which featured a Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl appearance, among an abundance of highlights. 

Among all the highlights though, Franklin was pleased with the poise and maturity the Nittany Lions demonstrated throughout the season, continuing to remain focused even in the face of both adversity and success. 

"I think our guys really handled a lot of things well," Franklin said. "I think the way the season ended, I think the Rose Bowl, how our guys handled themselves academically, how our guys handled themselves socially - you know, right now I think we're in a position that we're going to be able to retain most if not all of the staff, which is great."

With signing day less than 10 days away, Franklin did speak to the decision of a few of the newest Nittany Lions who have already arrived in Happy Valley.

Penn State welcomed four early enrollees including, hybrid linebacker Brelin Faison-Walden, defensive back Lamont Wade, offensive lineman Mike Miranda and wide receiver KJ Hamler at the start of the spring semester.

Although Franklin hasn't been able to spend a ton of time with the newcomers due to a packed recruiting schedule, all four are well underway taking classes and also getting into the weight room for a jump on winter workouts. 

"I'm going to have a meeting with all four of those guys today and just sit down and just make sure they are doing well and they're adjusting well, but the feedback I get from Todd Kulka, our academic advisor, they seem to be doing really well," Franklin said. "The feedback that I get from Dwight Galt, the strength staff, they seem to be doing well. Tim Bream and his staff, Will Flaherty, who runs our player development, is very hands-on with our guys in the adjustment process, they seem to be doing well." 

As Franklin and the staff have stressed throughout the season, the decision to enroll early certainly offers tremendous value, providing student-athletes with an edge in all different phases, getting a head start on transitioning from high school to collegiate life as  opposed to arriving for camp. 

"If you're just showing up on campus for the first time, it takes a pretty special guy to say you're going to play as a true freshman or earn a starting job when you've only been on campus for four to six weeks and you're competing with guys who have been on campus four, three, two years. I think it helps, but it's not for everybody," Franklin said.

As noted though, Franklin stressed that he and his staff never try to convince student-athletes that enrolling early is the way to go. Rather it's more of a case-by-case basis, taking into account the student-athletes' total readiness, from a social, academic and athletic standpoint.

"We don't ever try to talk guys into doing it because I also think there's value in saying I'm going to go to my prom; I am going to play my senior year of basketball," Franklin said. "There's value in that, as well, being with my buddies for six more months and kind of going through that process, being able to go away for vacation with my mom and dad after I graduate for a week, those types of things." 

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On The Quote Board -
- While proud of the way his Nittany Lions handled their business this year, Franklin noted that there's only really one happy team at the end of the year.

"We have things that we should be very proud of, and our guys, they should be confidence-building experiences, but we also have things that I think should be motivating, that, again, the way I look at it, there's one happy team at the end of the year, and that's Clemson and my boy, Dabo [Swinney]. Everybody else is salty and angry and ready to get back to work again." 

- Among those Nittany Lions who are ready to get back to work again, is quarterback Trace McSorley, who Franklin praised for being totally aware of his strengths and weaknesses, with great intent on utilizing the offseason to study the year.

"What we're going to do between now and next year is how can we take the amount of times that he maybe made decisions that he would prefer to make differently in the future and how can we limit them," Franklin said. "Say 12 percent of the time last year he made decisions that he would have, now looking back at it, made differently; how can we take that and reduce it to maybe 8 percent or 6 percent next year, and kind of keep heading in that direction."

- Franklin stressed that under his guidance, the Penn State Football program is simply not in the mindset of building a team that's meant to be a feeder system for the NFL.

"And for us, what we're trying to do is we're trying to recruit guys that we think are great fits to this community, that are great fits academically, that are going to be really, really good college players, that will leave here with degrees, and then hopefully can continue playing the game of football as long as they possibly can in the NFL, but it's really in that order."

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