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Training Camp: Lynch Relishing Opportunity as Leader

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11236364.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Akeel Lynch has patiently waited for the opportunity that he has in front of him right now.

When training camp opened on Thursday, he wasn't standing in line behind two veteran running backs during individual drills. He wasn't listening to older players speak first in the meeting room.

The Toronto native was busy setting the tone for the peers around him.

He's the same well-spoken, enthusiastic guy that he has always been, but Lynch walked and talked with an air of confidence during the media day festivities his teammates and coaches haven't seen before.

With every opportunity comes added responsibility.

Lynch knows that.

And he's not only up for the task of being the guy to lead the Penn State running backs in 2015, he's embracing it with open arms.

"I have to prove myself each and every day throughout camp and during the season," Lynch said. "Being an older guy, I definitely have the advantage with experience over the young guys, so my role is to help these guys and pick them up. When you have iron with iron, that's when you get a lot of competition and bring the best out of yourself. I need to bring these guys up with me. Competing with me will bring the best out of all of us."

Lynch took the reins of the backfield during the latter stages of 2014. He finished the season playing the best ball of his career. Logging seven straight games with 12 or more carries, including back-to-back 130-yard plus outings in November, Lynch scored touchdowns in three of the final four games and tallied 75 yards on 17 carries in the Pinstripe Bowl.

"I can't wait to see him play this year. I cannot wait," said offensive coordinator John Donovan. "From the little that we're allowed to be around them right now, he seems very focused and locked in, very determined. He ended the year last year on a great note."

The 42nd Penn State player to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards, Lynch is the type of dynamic back head coach James Franklin likes to mentor.

"He's kind of the guys that I like to coach in terms of he may not have one specific special trait, but he's got a lot of really good traits," said Franklin. "He's not an undersized back, but I wouldn't say he's a huge back. He's got good speed. He's got the strength and power to break tackles. He's got the ability to make people miss and catch out of the backfield, which we'd like for him to have a bigger role in those things for this year, and he does all those things well, and guys that do a lot of things well, it usually continues to translate and grow."

His evolution as a player is a byproduct of the foundation he laid during his first three seasons. Lynch is an improved blocker and a better runner than he was when he walked on to campus because of the tireless work he has put in on and off the field. And thanks to an offensive line that returns four starters, Lynch is primed to start 2015 the way he finished 2014.

"He's done an awesome job not only leading the running back room, but leading the team," said special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff. "His daily preparation is what I always point out to the younger guys."

"He's probably been as consistent and as hard working as anybody in our program, and just done a great job," said Franklin. "He's been patient and kind of waited for his time, and he's prepared that when that time comes, he's going to be ready."

The opportunity has arrived, and Lynch is ready to run with it.


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

Nittany Lions Host Media Day as 2015 Training Camp Opens

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Media Day LIVE Interviews
: John Donovan | Charles Huff
Bob ShoopChristian Hackenberg

Press Conference Transcripts: 
James Franklin | Coordinators | Christian Hackenberg

Photo Gallery: Media Day | Practice One


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A crowd of more than 150 media members filled the Beaver Stadium media room on Thursday for the 2015 version of Penn State football media day.

Head coach James Franklin kicked off the festivities with a 30-minute press conference. Coordinators John Donovan, Charles Huff and Bob Shoop, along with quarterback Christian Hackenberg, followed Franklin on the dais before the team arrived at the stadium for nearly 60 minutes of open media on the immaculate sod in Beaver Stadium.

"Everybody is really excited to get going," Franklin said. "I'm excited to get going on football. Football. Talking football, coaching football, being out on the field and smelling the fresh cut grass, you know, looking at that beautiful blue and white sky and Mount Nittany in the background. Not talking about recruiting, not talking about fundraising and facilities, not talking about the NFL and where people are going to get drafted, to talk football. And I think our team is, as well."

CLvH2CSWcAAa2mH.jpgFranklin is thrilled with the way the team handled itself in the classroom coming off two very strong academic semesters, including a spring where 51 student-athletes earned a GPA of 3.0 or better. Additionally, the team accounted for more than 2,000 hours of community service during the 2014-15 year.

The squad also announced on Thursday that seniors Jordan Lucas, Angelo Mangiro, Von Walker and Anthony Zettel and junior Christian Hackenberg were voted captains for the 2015 season.

On the field, the team enters pre-season practice with the mindset that it has something to prove.

"I think at lot of us have a chip on our shoulder," Franklin said. "We've got a lot of work to do, and I think everybody is ready. You guys have heard me say in the offseason, I think I have a much better understanding of Penn State now. I have a much better understanding of the Big Ten and most importantly I have a much better understanding of our players, and I think it's the same way in the other direction. I think our players understand our coaching staff better. Our entire staff is back, so there's going to be no learning curve in terms of scheme or drills or things like that. There's always going to be new wrinkles, but I'm excited."

11235437.jpegPenn State took the field at approximately 5 p.m. on Monday afternoon to officially begin preparations for the 2015 season. The Nittany Lions are allotted 29 practices before the season-opener at Temple in Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 5. Under NCAA rules, the Lions must wait five practices before putting the pads on during the middle of next week.

"I think there are so many positive things falling into place for Penn State right now, and we've got momentum, and we have to capitalize on that momentum," said Franklin. "I don't think there's any doubt. You think about, again, last year there were so many unknowns sitting in this press conference talking to you guys. We weren't able to go to a bowl game last year when the season started. We got that opportunity back. We weren't able to have a full 85 scholarships. I think we were limited to 65. We have the opportunity now to get as close to 85 as we can. You know, we go and play in the bowl game, we play well. We retain our entire staff. We go out and battle in recruiting and do some good things there. We have a great off season in terms of academics, community service, and development. So yeah, there are just a lot of positive things."

Franklin said that there would be a point in two weeks or so into camp that the team will flip a switch into game preparation mode for Temple. For now, though, the Nittany Lions will work to maximize each day to improve in all phases of the game.

"I think you just spend so much in the offseason focused on areas that you think you should be stronger in and areas that you need to improve that I think it just kind of it gnaws at you after a while, and then there comes a point you just want to get out on the field and start playing, and after a couple weeks at camp we'll get to the point where we're ready to play an opponent," said Franklin.

The Nittany Lions will practice in the afternoon on Friday and Saturday. The season kicks off at 3:30 p.m. (ESPN) on Sept. 5.


Notes:
- Coach Franklin opened his press conference with a brief statement on longtime voice of Penn State Football Fran Fisher, who has been a regular at press conferences for years. Fisher passed away on May 14 at age 91.

"I'm sad to see my man is not in the back of the room, but it's great to see the rest of the family; miss your dad."

- Coach Franklin on the growth of Akeel Lynch and running back depth of the Nittany Lions:

"Akeel Lynch, you know, I'd love for him from day one until the end of the season to make it clearly obvious that we've got one big time back that we're going to be able to hang our hat on while we're developing those other guys, and according to Coach Galt and his staff and according to our players, Akeel has done that. He's been a tremendous leader with the young running backs and the young players. He's probably been as consistent and as hard working as anybody in our program, and just done a great job. He's been patient and kind of waited for his time, and he's prepared that when that time comes, he's going to be ready."

- Franklin on the offensive line and taking ownership of the task at hand:

"Their approach this off season, taking ownership of their position and their responsibility and their role, taking ownership of the success of the offense, having a chip on their shoulder. You know, the guys that redshirted now truly being able to compete for jobs, the new freshmen just showing up on campus as well as having Paris as a transfer and being able to have a spring ball experience, and now having an opportunity to compete."

- Penn State practiced in helmets, shorts and practice jerseys on day one of training camp.



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

Coach Franklin Participates in ESPN Car Wash

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BRISTOL, Conn. - Head coach James Franklin visited the campus of ESPN on Tuesday for a trip through the "Car Wash".

Franklin participated in approximately 10 different activities during his four-hour stay in Bristol. He appeared live on SportsCenter and His & Hers, in addition to recording interviews that will air across the ESPN family of networks.

Take a look through some highlights from Coach Franklin's day in Bristol.

📷 time with @espn_images. #ESPNCarWash

A photo posted by Penn State Football (@pennstatefball) on


Coach Franklin Headed to ESPN Campus for 'Car Wash'

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ESPN_CFP_blog.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin will travel to Bristol on Tuesday to spend a day on the ESPN campus going through a "car wash".

Franklin will participate in a wide range of ESPN activities during his stop, including television interviews on SportsCenter, College Football Live and His & Hers.  Franklin will spend nearly four hours talking on or participating in approximately eight ESPN platforms, including two live hits on SportsCenter.


Coach Franklin ESPN "Car Wash" Events

Show/Interview

Platform/Channel

The Championship Drive Football Podcast

ESPN Radio

SportsCenter

ESPN

Freddie Coleman Radio

ESPN Radio

Digital Media

ESPN Images

His & Hers

ESPN2

ESPNU College Football Blitz

ESPNU

College Football Live

ESPN

Ian Fitzsimmons Radio

ESPN Radio



Not all of the interviews will be conducted live (more information on the schedule to be announced at a time closer to air time), but fans are encouraged to stay tuned to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 throughout the day on Tuesday for coverage of Franklin during his trip to the ESPN campus.

2015 Big Ten Media Day - Photo Blog

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CHICAGO - Coach James Franklin and seniors Jordan Lucas, Angelo Mangiro and Anthony Zettel unofficially kicked off the 2015 season at Big Ten Media Day on Friday, July 31 inside the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place downtown Chicago. Here are some photos from the days events.

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2015 Big Ten Media Day Coverage

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2015_B1G_Media_1.jpgVIDEO: James Franklin Media Day Press Conference | Media Day Transcript  | Media Day - Photo Blog

CHICAGO - Coach James Franklin and seniors Jordan Lucas, Angelo Mangiro and Anthony Zettel unofficially kicked off the 2015 season at Big Ten Media Day on Friday inside the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place downtown Chicago.

Franklin and the trio of players participated in a wide range of activities with local and national media throughout the day.  Take a look through highlights from a busy day in Chicago.


8:30 a.m. - Television and Radio Circuit Kicks Off Media Days
It was an early start to the day for Coach Franklin and the Nittany Lions. Franklin sat down with ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg to kick off a busy day of interviews. The television and radio circuit included stops at Big Ten Network, CBS, ESPN, FOX and SiriusXM College Sports. The players filmed segments that will air on preview shows throughout the fall, including ESPN's College Gameday.

9:30 a.m. - Coach Franklin Addresses the Media
Head coach James Franklin stepped to the podium on Friday morning to speak with the more than 500 credentialed media members. Franklin spent 15 minutes discussing the Nittany Lions as the team gets set for training camp.

"Well, really excited about the opportunity to be here today, represent Penn State, represent the Big Ten," Franklin said. "You think about the story that's being told about our institution and the Big Ten as a whole this year compared to last year. It couldn't be more dramatically different."

Sound bites from the press meeting:

11229344.jpeg- Franklin on Christian Hackenberg - "Hack's had a great summer, and really spring. He was on the kind of the quarterback circuit. Did some things this summer and had some unique experiences, which were awesome as well. But to me, the storyline is the same as it was last year. I told everybody our concern wasn't with Christian Hackenberg, it was all the pieces of the puzzle around Christian. Like I said, we had one returning starter on the offensive line last year. This year four. Three of our four receivers last year were freshmen. We lost Adam Breneman, tight end, who we were expecting big things out of before the season started. And all those guys are back and with more experience. So I'm excited that Christian is going to be able to continue his development."

- Franklin on the Big Ten - "I think it's great. That's why you come to the Big Ten. That's why you come to Penn State. It's exciting that we're able to go to high schools and go to recruits and say - you have an opportunity to get a world-class education and play against the very best, which is what everybody wants to do. Big-time football, big-time academics, tremendous support. I think it's great. I think it's great for our conference. Like I said in the beginning, you think about the stories and the narrative that was being told a year ago compared to now, it's a 180-degree switch. So I think that's exciting. I think it's exciting in the fact that our players are going to be able to compete against some of the top players in the country. Our coaches are going to be able to compete against top coaches. We're going to be able to go into great environments and play big-time college football. We've embraced it. We're excited about it. It's all about competing in everything you do, in the classroom and on the football field."

- Franklin on motivation from last season - "I do. I think so. I think going through it is never fun, but I do think that they will be better because of that experience. I also feel that way about Christian Hackenberg. I think the mental and physical toughness that he showed last year in the long run is really going to help him. So, yeah, I think our offensive line has a chip on their shoulder. I think they worked like that all offseason. So, yeah, I would really appreciate if any of you guys are willing to write some nasty article about them to continue to motivate them to continue to push them throughout the season."


11:00 a.m. - Big Ten Kickoff Fan Fest and Luncheon
Following a 60-minute fan fest inside the Skyline Ballroom, more than 1,000 Big Ten fans attended the 44th Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon. Coach Franklin spent time talking to the crowd alongside fellow Big Ten coaches.

"I'm really proud of our guys and the way they have worked this offseason. We are excited," said Franklin.

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2:30 p.m. - Open Media Session
Franklin and the trio of players moved into a podium media session following the luncheon. Additionally, each member of the group spent 60 minutes in a roundtable media event.

The theme of the remarks from the players and Coach Franklin centered on excitement for the start of training camp next week. The Nittany Lions have more depth across the roster, and Franklin and the players noted what type of advantage entering a season with a two-deep at every position does for the team's growth.

"I'm really excited about this year," said Lucas. "We have a lot more depth than we've had, and it just makes everyone elevate their game."

"Having more talent all around the team just makes you want to work that much harder at everything you do," said Zettel. "I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do."

VIDEO: James Franklin Media Session




VIDEO: Player Remarks at Media Day



Twitter Snapshots from Media Day


6:00 p.m. - Media Day Roundup
The Nittany Lion contingent wrapped up a jam-packed day of events in the early evening hours on Friday before traveling back to State College. It was a superb trip for the student-athletes and Coach Franklin, but now focus shifts towards the start of training camp. The Nittany Lions will host Media Day on Aug. 6 before taking the field for the first practice. Penn State enters camp with more depth and a great deal of confidence leading up to the 2015 season. Stay tuned for much more coverage leading up to the season opener against Temple on Sept. 5.


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

Follow GoPSUsports.com at 2015 Big Ten Media Days in Chicago

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14_mediaday_blog_4a.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The unofficial kickoff to the 2015 Big Ten football has arrived. The 44th Annual Big Ten Kickoff will take place inside the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago on Thursday and Friday.

GoPSUsports.com will be on site to cover all of the action. Head coach James Franklin, senior safety Jordan Lucas, senior center Angelo Mangiro and senior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel will represent Penn State in Chicago.

The two-day event will be filled with interviews and press conferences with a wide variety of national media outlets. Seven Big Ten teams will take part in media events on Thursday (
Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio State), and seven teams will participate in events on Friday (Minnesota, Michigan, Rutgers, Northwestern, Nebraska, Purdue and Penn State).

The BTN and ESPNU will have extensive coverage on TV. BTN will present
more than 13 hours of live coverage of Big Ten football media days on Thursday and Friday. BTN will air the press conferences for all 14 coaches, as well as Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. Press conference coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET live on Thursday. BTN's live press conference coverage resumes on Friday at 9 a.m. ET. BTN Live will air from 3-7 p.m. ET on both Thursday and Friday with interviews featuring coaches and players.

Coverage by ESPNU will air from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. ET on both days with coverage of the press conferences and media day festivities. ESPNU will air the press conferences with all 14 coaches on a live or tape-delayed basis on both days.


On Friday, GoPSUsports.com will be home to all of the happenings in Chicago. Stay tuned throughout Big Ten Media Days for live updates, videos and photos from Chicago.

Listed below are some of the key events from the Big Ten Kickoff in Chicago.

Friday, July 31

- 10:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m. ET - James Franklin Press Conference


- 12:30 p.m. ET - BTN's Dave Revsine will emcee the 44th Annual Big Ten Kickoff luncheon.

- 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m. ET - Coach Franklin and Penn State players conduct interviews with television, print and Internet media from around the nation.

We look forward to taking you with us to Chicago for complete Penn State coverage from Big Ten Media Day.



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

Nittany Lions Deliver Season Tickets and 2015 Posters

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion football team spent Thursday interacting with fans around State College distributing the 2015 "Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game." posters. The team boarded four Blue Buses and spread out in different locations in State College and on the University Park campus. Additionally, head coach James Franklin hand delivered several sets of season tickets.

Take a look through some highlights.





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

VIDEO: 2015 Football Jersey Press Conference Remarks

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State football program announced on Thursday that names would be removed from the jerseys to rekindle a longstanding tradition of "Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game." Head coach James Franklin, along with letterman and current assistant coach Terry Smith and some of the current players met with the media on Thursday evening met with the media to discuss the jerseys.


James Franklin


Terry Smith


Nittany Lion Players






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VIDEO: Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game

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