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VIDEO: Andy Frank 1-on-1 Interview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One month has passed since the Nittany Lions inked their third-straight recruiting class ranked in the nation's top 25.

Countless hours of work goes on behind the scenes to maintain an elite level of recruiting in the process of getting top student-athletes to Penn State. Director of Player Personnel Andy Frank is the figure behind the scenes who organizes the logistics and operations during the months leading up to signing a top class.

GoPSUsports.com spent time Frank to gain some insight on the process of recruiting in a one-on-one interview. Take a look.




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Nittany Lions Powering Through Winter Testing

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Photo Gallery - Max Out Session

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While the Nittany Lions are only 16 days from returning to the practice field for the start of spring football, the team is not thinking about putting helmets and pats back on just yet.

Led by Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt and the strength and condition staff, the football squad wrapped up its annual winter physical testing period to measure the progress the group has made since winter conditioning began in January and to set a baseline leading into the summer workout season.

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

When Galt addressed the media on this particular week during his first two seasons at Penn State, he talked about how pleased he had been with the team's effort. This year, Galt said the eight-week training reached new heights for the Nittany Lions.

"Eight weeks in the bank. It was a great eight weeks," Galt said. "Guys worked their butts off. It was the best winter we've ever had. We've just got to keep on rolling. We have two more days this week to finish up before (spring) break, and then back into football for five weeks."


With eight weeks down in 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 during the winter.

Leadership and maturity are two areas that have stuck out to Galt this winter. The young talent on the team has done its part to prosper into veterans, and the upperclassmen have set the tone for the rest of the players in the program.

"The youth is growing up, and the older guys have done a great job," said Galt. "The older guys have really done a great job keeping everyone together and teaching the younger guys the Penn State way. They have been awesome."

Running back Saquon Barkley shined during testing week for the Nittany Lions. Galt labeled Barkley as the type of talent you see in the weight room once every 10 years. A 1,000-yard rusher in his true freshman season, Barkley ran 4.38 in the 40-yard dash and benched 390 pounds on Monday, power cleaned a program-best 390 pounds on Tuesday and squatted 495 pounds seven times on Wednesday.

"This kid is for real," said Galt. "He is a tremendous athlete. But even better than that, he's a great leader, a great worker. He really epitomizes what we are all about. He really did a nice job this week."

Galt also referenced the gains offensive tackles Sterling Jenkins and Paris Palmer have made in the weight room during the past 12 months. On the defensive side of the ball, he highlighted safety Marcus Allen and cornerbacks Grant Haley and John Reid.

Collectively, Galt and the staff have a "tier" system of athletes in the weight room. He labeled "tier three" as a group of elite athletes based on their testing results and physical abilities in the weight room. The team currently has nine "tier three" athletes, and it's a number Galt wants to see grow to approximately 16 by this time next year.

With the media in attendance at Thursday's workout, freshman defensive lineman Kevin Givens put on a show in the final squat of the team's first lifting group of the day. Givens squatted 500 pounds nine times with his fellow teammates cheering him on. Fellow defensive lineman Antoine White turned in a 10-rep effort at 465 pounds.

Now, the Nittany Lions are counting down the days before the start of spring practice. Spring drills begin on March 18, with the period culminating in Beaver Stadium at the annual Blue-White Game on April 16.


Testing Week Top Marks - Winter 2016
40-Yard Dash
Saquon Barkley - 4.38
Saeed Blacknall - 4.39
Troy Apke - 4.41
Koa Farmer - 4.43
Brandon Polk - 4.43

Agility
Saquon Barkley - 4.00
Mark Allen - 4.03
Saeed Blacknall - 4.04
Ayron Monroe - 4.07
Garrett Taylor - 4.10

Vertical
Gregg Garrity - 37
Mike Gesicki - 36.5
Ayron Monroe - 36.5
Christian Campbell - 36
DeAndre Thompkins - 36

Broad Jump
Mike Gesicki - 10-10
Nick Scott - 10-7
Ayron Monroe - 10-7
Evan Schwan - 10-6
Troy Apke - 10-6

Bench Press
Colin Castagna - 465
Derek Dowrey - 440
Brian Gaia - 430
Kevin Givens - 410
Sterling Jenkins - 400
Tyler Yazujian - 400
Ryan Monk - 400
Tom Devenney - 400

Power Clean
Saquon Barkley - 390
Colin Castagna - 365
Mike Gesicki - 365
Robert Windsor - 360
Nick Bowers - 355

Squat
Kevin Givens - 635
Antoine White - 600
Saquon Barkley - 600
Kamonte Carter - 590
Nick Bowers - 565

***One-rep max for squat figures***




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

Nittany Lions at the 2016 NFL Combine

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Indianapolis will be a hub of activity throughout the weekend as Lucas Oil Stadium hosts the 2016 NFL Combine.

Penn State will five representatives participating in the combine activities, beginning on Thursday when the school's all-time leading passer, Christian Hackenberg, kicks off the process in Indy. Hackenberg, Austin Johnson, Jordan Lucas, Carl Nassib and Anthony Zettel are all set to participate at this year's NFL Combine.

Approximately 332 players are going to be in attendance at one of the most important steps in the NFL Draft preparation process. The NFL Combine entails measurements, medical examinations, and testing, in addition to on-field timing and skill work. The measurable drills include: 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill and shuttle run.

Penn State at the NFL Combine Schedule
Thursday, Feb. 25
Media interviews for quarterbacks - Christian Hackenberg

Friday, Feb. 26
Media interviews for defensive linemen - Austin Johnson, Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel

Saturday, Feb. 27
Media interviews for defensive backs - Jordan Lucas
On-field workouts for quarterbacks - Christian Hackenberg

Sunday, Feb. 28
On-field workouts for defensive linemen -
Austin Johnson, Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel

Monday, Feb. 29
On-field workouts for defensive backs - Jordan Lucas



The NFL Network will have wall-to-wall coverage on TV. Additionally, there will be a live stream beginning on Friday at 9 a.m.

NFL Combine Live Stream



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

VIDEO: Tim Banks 1-on-1 Interview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 20 years of collegiate coaching experience and nine seasons as a defensive coordinator, Tim Banks became Penn State's co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach on Jan. 18.

Banks spent the last four seasons at Illinois working as the co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach. In the midst of the final push leading up to signing day on Feb. 3, Banks spent the vast majority of his first two weeks on the job recruiting across the region with the rest of the coaching staff to help secure Penn State's third consecutive group of signees ranked in the top 25.

A Detroit native, Banks is thrilled to continue his coaching career in the Big Ten as he gets set for his first spring on the field with the Nittany Lions. GoPSUsports.com spent time with the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in a one-on-one introductory interview. Take a look.





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

Penn State Athletics THON 2016 Coverage

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IMG_9032.JPGUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 44th IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center over the weekend.

THON's 708 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. To date, more than $136 million has been raised by THON. THON revealed a fundraising total of more than $9.7 million for 2016 with 96 percent of THON's all-time funds being donated directly to Four Diamonds. 

Each year, more than 15,000 Penn State student volunteers dedicate their time to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Members of Penn State's Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) were active participants in THON, and led run several fund-raising activities once again this year including sending solicitation letters to friends and family and a lip sync competition. In addition to generating financial support for THON, SAAB also provides emotional support to its THON children, Isabella Messina and Colton Buckley, and their families throughout the year.


Four Penn State student-athletes are represented SAAB as dancers in THON 2016: Liisi Vink-Lainas (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and Angela Widlacki (Naperville, Ill.) of women's soccer, Emily Rivers (Washington, D.C.) from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato (Burke, Va.) from football.

"This means the world to us. As athletes you are given a platform that a normal student might not have," said Zanellato. "It's one of those things that when you come in as a freshman, you know that you will have that platform for a few years. I wanted to make the most of it. I realized that THON was something special to me when I came to Penn State. I wanted to use my platform as best I could."

Additionally, Angela Connors and Jessica Spellman from the Lionettes squad and from Penn State cheerleading Kenny Fuhrman, Paige Gentry, Jordan Hinkle, Kylie Tobasco and Mike White danced in THON.

Within Penn State Athletics, strategic communications student assistants Emily Hesidence and Kate Brandell were also among the dancers at THON, as well.


Check out the GoPSUsports.com extensive coverage from THON 2016 weekend.


Friday - 6 p.m. - THON 2016 Begins
The 46-hour dance marathon kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday evening when the 708 dancers stood. They will remain on their feet until Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

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Saturday - 9:30 a.m. - Student-Athlete Interviews
With Bryce Jordan Center buzzing with energy during the 16th hour of THON 2016, GoPSUsports.com spent some time with student-athletes and THON dancers Liisi Vink-Lainas  and Angela Widlacki of women's soccer, Emily Rivers, from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato from football. Representing Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), the group is thrilled to carry the Penn State Athletics banner as dancers in the 2016 THON. Take a look at some of their remarks from the floor at the BJC.



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Saturday - 2 p.m. - Football Hosts THON Explorers Event
Approximately 40 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed approximately 30 THON Four Diamonds children and their families to a special event inside the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON Explorers program.

The THON event in Lasch 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, participate in athletic stations, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

The Nittany Lions formed a high-five tunnel for the families upon entry into the building before the student-athletes took the families around the football facility. Take a look at the THON Explorers event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Football THON Explorers Event



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Saturday - 6 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the IM during athlete hour on Saturday.  Here are a few snapshots and video highlights from the event.

Athlete Hour Photo Gallery



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Saturday - 11 p.m. - Football Wins Pep Rally Dance Competition
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 2016 version of the dance-off.

The pep rally included a speech from former Nittany Lion football great Devon Still and his daughter Leah.

As for the dance competition, the football team claimed top honors in the men's side of the action, while the reigning national champion women's soccer team took top honors on the women's side. The two teams then battled in a dance off, with the football team earning the bragging rights as the 2016 THON Pep Rally dancing champion.

We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. 

THON 2016 Pep Rally Photo Gallery



9185732.jpegTHON 2016 Pep Rally Full Dances
Football (Men's & Overall Champion) 
Women's Soccer (Women's Champion)
Men's Fencing
Men's Golf
Men's Gymnastics
Men's Hockey
Men's Rugby
Men's Soccer
Men's Tennis
Men's Volleyball
Field Hockey
Women's Golf
Women's Gymnastics
Women's Hockey
Women's Rugby
Women's Volleyball

Sunday - 11:30 a.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2016
Head coach James Franklin took the stage of THON 2016 on Sunday morning to urge the dancers on in the final hours of the 46-hour dance marathon.  Franklin's message epitomized what THON's mission has been since it started in 1977.

"This is special. What you guys do is what Penn State is ultimately all about," said Coach Franklin.

Take a look at his full remarks.

James Franklin at THON 2016 Photo Gallery



4:14 p.m. - THON 2016 Raises $9.7 Million
For the second-straight year, THON's fundraising efforts raised more than $9.7 million. The grand total for THON in 2016 was  $9,770,332.32 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2016.  Here is a look at the reveal from Rec Hall prior to Penn State wrestling's bout against Oklahoma State. The Nittany Lion faithful in Rec Hall let out a big cheer as the total was unveiled.

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GoPSUTony

VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Football

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday night, the Nittany Lion football team claimed top honors in the annual THON dance competition featuring Penn State teams. The Lions earned a victory in the men's side of the action before ousting the women's soccer squad in a dance-off. Take a look at the team's winning dance.

VIDEO: Nittany Lions Host 2016 THON Explorers Event

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Football THON Explorers Event

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Approximately 40 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed approximately 30 THON Four Diamonds children and their families to a special event inside the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON Explorers program.

The THON event in Lasch 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, participate in athletic stations, tour the facility, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

The Nittany Lions formed a high-five tunnel for the families upon entry into the building before the student-athletes took the families around the football facility. Take a look at the THON Explorers event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.


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VIDEO: Matt Limegrover 1-on-1 Interview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With more than 25 years of collegiate coaching experience, Matt Limegrover became Penn State's offensive line coach on Jan. 13.

Limegrover spent the last five seasons at Minnesota working as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach and was the assistant head coach during the past two seasons. In the midst of the final push leading up to signing day, Limegrover hit the ground running and spent the first two and half weeks on the job recruiting with the rest of the coaching staff to help secure Penn State's third consecutive group of signees ranked in the nation's top 25.

A Pittsburgh native, Limegrover is thrilled to be closer to home as he gets set for his first spring on the field with the Nittany Lions. GoPSUsports.com spent time with the offensive line coach in a one-on-one introductory interview. Take a look.





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Nittany Lions with Super Bowl Rings (2/7/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Former Penn State standout Jordan Norwood capped off a playoff run with the Denver Broncos by winning Super Bowl 50 in Levi's Stadium on Sunday.

Norwood tallied a Super Bowl-record 61-yard punt return to set up a Denver field goal in the 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Former Penn State players have been a part of Super Bowl winning teams in 35 of the 50 NFL Championship games.  In all, 38 different former Nittany Lions account for 55 rings.  Take a look at the complete list.


Former Penn State Players with Super Bowl Rings
11673996.jpegJack Ham (4)
Franco Harris (4)
Matt Millen (4)
Pete Kugler (3)
Chris Bahr (2)
Matt Bahr (2)
Bruce Bannon (2)
Dave Robinson (2)
Kareem McKenzie (2)
Rich Milot (2)
Jay Alford
Ralph Baker
Brad Benson
Andre Collins
Sam Gash
Jeff Hartings
Mike Hartenstine
Kim Herring
Jordan Hill
Tim Johnson
Joe Jurevicious
Jimmy Kennedy
Larry Kubin
Justin Kurpeikis
Ted Kwalick
Shawn Mayer
Sean McHugh
Bob Mrosko
Jordan Norwood
Scott Paxson
Andrew Quarless
Tom Rafferty
Glenn Ressler
Marco Rivera
Michael Robinson
Jim Romano
Dave Rowe
Matt Suhey

55 rings among 38 players


Former Penn State Players on Super Bowl Winning Teams (By Year)
1967
- Dave Robinson (Green Bay)
1968 - Dave Robinson (Green Bay)
1969 - Ralph Baker (New York Jets)
1971 - Glenn Ressler (Baltimore Colts)
1973 - Bruce Bannon (Miami Dolphins)
1974 - Bruce Bannon (Miami Dolphins)
1975 - Jack Ham & Franco Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers)
1976 - Jack Ham & Franco Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers)
1977 - Dave Rowe & Ted Kwalick (Oakland Raiders)
1978 - Tom Rafferty (Dallas Cowboys)
1979 - Jack Ham & Franco Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers)
1980 - Matt Bahr, Jack Ham & Franco Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers)
1981 - Chris Bahr & Matt Millen (Oakland Raiders)
1982 - Pete Kugler (San Francisco 49ers)
1983 - Larry Kubin & Rich Milot (Washington Redskins)
1984 - Chris Bahr, Matt Millen & Jim Romano (Los Angeles Raiders)
1986 - Mike Hartstine & Matt Suhey (Chicago Bears)
1987 - Brad Benson (New York Giants)
1988 - Rich Milot (Washington Redskins)
1989 - Pete Kugler (San Francisco 49ers)
1990 - Pete Kugler & Matt Millen (San Francisco 49ers)
1991 - Matt Bahr & Bob Mrosko (New York Giants)
1992 - Andre Collins, Tim Johnson & Matt Millen (Washington Redskins)
1997 - Marco Rivera (Green Bay Packers)
2001 - Sam Gash & Kim Herring (Baltimore Ravens)
2003 - Joe Jurevicious (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
2004 - Shawn Mayer (New England Patriots)
2005 - Justin Kurpeikis (New England Patriots)
2006 - Jeff Hartings (Pittsburgh Steelers)
2008 - Jay Alford & Kareem McKenzie (New York Giants)
2009 - Sean McHugh & Scott Paxson (Pittsburgh Steelers)
2011 - Andrew Quarless (Green Bay Packers)
2012 - Jimmy Kennedy & Kareem McKenzie (New York Giants)
2014 - Jordan Hill & Michael Robinson (Seattle Seahawks)
2016 - Jordan Norwood (Denver Broncos)


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Inside The Numbers: The Last Three Football Signing Classes

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2016 Signing Day Central


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the third-straight February, head coach James Franklin and the football staff have assembled a signing class ranked in the nation's top 25 by all four national recruiting outlets.

Ranked as high as 18th by ESPN, the 2016 class features 20 signees, including 12 future Nittany Lion student-athletes tabbed as either four or five-star prospects. The signing class of 2016 continues a movement of Penn State adding a host of talent and depth to its roster.

"We really want [recruiting] to be about relationships and about the things that we think it should be about, which is getting a world class education and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals that want to go on and be really successful," said Franklin.

Of the 20 signees slated to be on the roster in August, 16 of them hail from within a 350-mile radius of the University Park campus. The trend of recruiting success within the footprint around Happy Valley has been a common thread throughout Coach Franklin's time in Happy Valley.

Since Franklin arrived in January 2014, the Nittany Lions have signed 70 prospects during the last three recruiting cycles. That figure includes 25 in 2014, 25 in 2015 and 20 in 2016. The 70 players signed have come from 17 states and Canada. Forty-three of the 70 signed players are from 350 miles or less from State College.

Sixty-one players are from the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest, with seven players from the Deep South, one from California and one from Ontario. The states represented in the last three recruiting classes are as follows: Pennsylvania (19), Maryland (10), New Jersey (10), Virginia (6), Georgia (4), Ohio (4), Alabama (2), Delaware (2), Illinois (2), Massachusetts (2), North Carolina (2), California (1), Connecticut (1), Florida (1), Indiana (1), New York (1), Wisconsin (1) and Ontario (1)

"I would make the argument that every year that we want to obviously do a great job of recruiting the state of Pennsylvania," said Franklin. "That's very, very important to us, and the region."

In addition to the vast list of signees from the region, the Nittany Lion coaching staff has signed 26 players tabbed as either four or five-star prospects during the last three recruiting classes. In the two years prior to 2014, Penn State signed just six.


Penn State continues winter workouts leading up to the start of spring practice in mid-March and the annual Blue-White Game, which is slated for April 16 in Beaver Stadium.



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