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Depth Chart Released for Season Opener vs. UCF

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Penn State Depth Chart - Aug. 26

Press Conference Roundup - UCF Week | James Franklin Transcript - Aug. 26

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin released a depth chart heading into the season-opener against UCF on Tuesday afternoon.

The first depth chart of the fall season features six senior starters (one on offense, four on defense and one specialist).  With four days remaining until Saturday's opener, there are still positional battles up for grabs at practice this week.

On offense, both redshirt sophomore Derek Dowrey and redshirt freshman Brendan Mahon are both listed on the top line at left guard. Dowrey moved from the defensive line to guard prior to spring practice. Mahon made great strides on the scout team last season.

On defense, juniors Trevor Williams and Da'Quan Davis head into the season-opener in Ireland sharing the top line at the cornerback position opposite junior Jordan Lucas. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop praised the improvement both Williams and Davis have made during camp when he addressed the media on Monday.

The front seven of the defensive unit is headlined by senior defensive end C.J. Olaniyan and junior defensive end Deion Barnes. The defensive line boasts one of the most experienced units on the depth chart, with Olaniyan and Barnes joined by junior tackle Anthony Zettel and redshirt sophomore tackle Austin Johnson.

In the linebacking corps, senior Mike Hull is the centerpiece with sophomores Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell lining up alongside him. Shoop noted Wartman as a player that took his game to another level during preseason practice. Seniors Adrian Amos and Ryan Keiser will anchor the back of the defense at the safety positions.

On offense, 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Christian Hackenberg will direct the offense for the second-straight season at quarterback. Penn State's running back corps features a host of talent, including seniors Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak. Sophomore Akeel Lynch and sophomore Cole Chiappialle will look for playing time, as well.

The projected starting offensive line includes junior Angelo Mangiro at center, sophomore Brian Gaia at right guard, Dowrey or Mahon at left guard, junior Donovan Smith at left tackle and redshirt freshman Andrew Nelson at right tackle.

The depth chart features six tight ends, including returnees Jesse James and Kyle Carter, who are two of Penn State's most experienced offensive players. Redshirt sophomore Brent Wilkerson and true freshman Mike Gesicki will likely see action at tight end, as well.

Sophomore Geno Lewis and redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton are the starting receivers listed on the depth chart, but look for contributions from a host of players.  In addition to Lewis and Hamilton, junior Matt Zanellato and true freshmen Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin are poised to play a key role at the wide receiver positions.

Senior Sam Ficken will kick, while redshirt freshman Chris Gulla is listed as the top punter. Keiser is the top holder, while sophomore Tyler Yazujian is the kick snapper. Lynch and Lewis are listed as the top two kickoff returners, and Lucas and Della Valle are the top two punt returners.

There are 17 true freshmen listed on the three-deep depth chart, including Blacknall (WR), Godwin (WR), Trace McSorley (QB), Chasz Wright (RT), Jason Cabinda (LB), Grant Haley (CB) and Danny Pasquariello (P), who are all on the second line at their respective positions.

Penn State kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday (ESPN2) against the UCF Knights inside Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland. The trip to Dublin marks Penn State's first international game.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Game Week Arrives as Lions Prep for Trip Across the Pond

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7247379.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The long wait is nearly over for the Nittany Lions and their first international game in program history.

Penn State is scheduled to board a United 747-400 charter flight in Harrisburg on Tuesday night to begin its quest across the pond for the season-opener against UCF in Dublin, Ireland
(Saturday at 8:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2).

Monday is an off day for the players, but the Lasch Football Complex remained a hub of activity as the staff busily finalizes all of the logistics that go along with transporting equipment and a travel party of more than 300 members to Ireland for the season-opener.

The Croke Park Classic was announced on July 14, 2013. From that day forward, the support staffs inside the athletic department have been organizing and planning for the trip to Dublin. The first game of a season always presents a set of logistical challenges, but to open a season 3,370 miles away from Beaver Stadium is unique.

When the original announcement was made in 2013, a small group from the athletic department was on site in Dublin to preliminarily take a look at the area. A second site visit of the practice site, hotels and the Croke Park stadium took place in late April to iron out more details. The Nittany Lions will practice it University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland's largest university (30,000 students), beginning on Wednesday.

"It is a challenge. There are a lot of moving parts," said Director of Operations Michael Hazel. "When you are going overseas, you are required to complete certain documents and documentation where you basically have to list every item that you are taking with you. From a box of 24 pencils to 180 socks to 190 cleats whatever you are taking, it needs listed A to Z...That's probably the most difficult part - making sure you have everything accountable."

All of the cargo being transported to the game must be sent to Harrisburg prior to the plane's departure on Tuesday night.
With the exception of the Gatorade supply for the team, which left several days ago on a ship, all of the equipment will be transported by plane. Once it arrives in Dublin and the group clears customs, the cargo then must be delivered to the practice site at UCD, the hotel and the stadium.

In all, approximately 20,000 pounds of cargo will be transported to Dublin for the game. The list includes more than 9,000 individual items, ranging from 12 pads of Post It notes to 225 spare metal detachable cleats to 500 blue index cards.

With a travel party in excess of 300 people, which includes nearly 120 players, the group is allotting approximately two hours to clear customs upon arrival in Dublin on Wednesday morning. The travel party will disperse over eight buses for the trip. Each set of personal luggage will be assigned a color-coded tag for organization throughout the bus transportation process.

Penn State's first day in Ireland will be a long one. After an overnight flight, the travel party will go straight from the airport to Croke Park for lunch and a tour of the stadium. From there, the group will go to practice. The team travel party will not arrive at the hotel until after practice in the evening on Wednesday. While the day will be long, the idea is to keep everyone awake as long as possible on the first day to get acclimated to the time change (Five hours ahead of State College).

In addition to three days of practice leading up to Saturday's game, the team is scheduled to have dinner at the Guinness Storehouse on Thursday and enjoy a bus tour of the city on Friday.

The return trip to the United States will take place following dinner at the stadium after the game ends. The return flight will land in Pittsburgh before the group boards buses for State College after clearing customs late on Saturday night.

The buses are scheduled to arrive in the overnight hours early on Sunday morning. The coaching staff will head home for a couple hours of sleep before working on prep for the noon home opener against Akron on Sept. 6.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Football Training Camp Central

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TC_Central_2.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Training Camp Central is home to all of the content on the Nittany Lions as they prepare for the 2014 season.

Stay tuned for continuous updates throughout training camp for exclusive written and video content on the Nittany Lions.

Week One

August 4
Media Day Central
Video Feature - Training Camp Kickoff

Photo Galleries: Media Day | Practice One

Media Day Video Interviews:
Coaches: James Franklin | Bob Shoop | Charles Huff | John Donovan
Players: Christian Hackenberg | Geno Lewis | Sam Ficken | Ryan Keiser | Donovan Smith
Jesse James & Kyle Carter | Jordan Lucas | C.J. Olaniyan & Brad Bars | Adrian Amos
Brandon Bell & Nyeem Wartman

August 5
Video Feature - Jordan Lucas Interviews the Media

The Nittany Lions Learn the Alma Mater:

August 6
Inside Training Camp - The Secondary

August 7
Inside Training Camp - Special Teams

August 8
Inside Training Camp - Defensive Line

August 9
Photo Gallery - BTN Visits Practice

August 10
Coach Hand & O-Line ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 11
Breaking Down the Roster Geographically

August 12
Behind the Scenes - First Two-A-Day

August 13
Feature - Seven Captains to Lead Nittany Lions

August 14
Inside Training Camp - Offensive Line
James Franklin Training Camp Update

August 15
Feature: Franklin Pleased with Team's Energy, Progress

August 16
Video Feature - Unrivaled Commitment

August 18
Inside Training Camp - Running Backs

August 19
Inside Training Camp - Quarterbacks & Receivers

August 20
Feature: Leadership Council Important to Lions, Franklin
Training Camp Notebook: James Franklin Update

The Nittany Lions took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

August 21
Inside Training Camp - Linebackers

August 22
The Nittany Lions help students move into the dorms.

August 23

Coach James Franklin visited the Blue Band.

August 24
Inside Training Camp - Tight Ends

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Inside Training Camp - Tight Ends

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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 | Inside Training Camp - Quarterbacks & Receivers

Inside Training Camp - Linebackers

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are less than one week away from the first game on the 2014 schedule.

For the past three weeks, has given the fans a detailed look inside Penn State's preparation for the season with the Inside Training Camp series. Today, we close out the video features with an all access practice with the tight ends. The tight end position is one of the deepest on Penn State's depth chart. Take a look with coach John Donovan.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Inside Training Camp - Linebackers

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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 | Inside Training Camp - Quarterbacks & Receivers

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State carries a long tradition of excellence at the linebacker position.

Linebackers coach Brent Pry and the 2014 Nittany Lions will look to carry on Penn State's Linebacker U legacy.'s Inside Training Camp series continues with a look at the linebacking corps.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Training Camp Notebook - James Franklin Update

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Training Camp Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The training camp portion of preseason preparations for the Nittany Lions is essentially over. The coaching staff and team have shifted into UCF game prep.

The players are scheduled to move out of the dorms on Thursday in preparation for the fall academic semester, which commences on Monday. Head coach James Franklin spent a few minutes on a phone conference with the local media to provide a training camp update on Wednesday afternoon. Take a look through a preseason notebook from Wednesday's call.

UCF Preparations Back Underway
The coaching staff spent much of the summer breaking down film and formulating a preliminary gameplan for the Aug. 30 opener in Dublin, Ireland. After focusing on the internal growth of the team at training camp during the first few weeks of August, the coaching staff has resumed prep for UCF.

"We are really just starting that. We basically ended camp last night," Franklin said. "We are kind of starting now on Central Florida with scout teams and things like that. The staff has been watching film all day. We have obviously done preliminary gameplans this summer, but now we are going back after having a better idea of who we are on offense, defense and special teams...We are at the very beginning level of it right now, although we have done some legwork ahead of time, obviously."

Standout Freshmen
Coach Franklin listed a handful of Nittany Lion newcomers who have impressed thus far during camp. The list included players at wide receiver, tight end, safety and cornerback.

"I think (Chris) Godwin and Saeed (Blacknall) are guys who have jumped out to me. (Mike) Gesicki has jumped out to me. Guys that we are going to need to have a role for us. On defense, I think Marcus Allen and Grant Haley are guys that have done some nice things, and Jason Cabinda, at positions that we need."

Battle at Cornerback
The battle for playing time alongside junior Jordan Lucas has been a competitive one during preseason practice. Coach Franklin highlighted the training camp efforts of corners Trevor Williams, Da'Quan Davis and freshman Grant Haley.

"I think those two guys have had a nice camp, as well as Grant Haley," Franklin said. "You really need probably five corners that you feel good about during camp and during the season because you are going to get some nicks and things like that. Right now, Trevor (Williams) has got the most reps and has the most experience, but those other guys are making a case for themselves, as well."

Depth on the Defensive Line
Franklin noted that he would like to see 12 to 14 guys in the rotation on the defensive line. Among the contributors during camp, the head coach of the Nittany Lions said two guys have really stood out on the D-Line during the preseason.

"Guys that have really stood out to me, probably two guys - that's Carl Nassib. He's had a great camp. His motor is unbelievable. He's a massive human being. He's got great length. And then AJ (Austin Johnson) is another guy," Franklin said. "He's had a great camp. He's just so big and athletic. He's difficult to deal with. Those guys have been problematic during camp."

Offensive Line Continuing to Grow
The Nittany Lion offensive line will continue to work towards becoming a cohesive unit over the next 10 days before the Lions take the field in Ireland. Franklin said finding five guys in consistent spots on the O-Line is important in the growth process.

"We've still got some work to do. We really do," Franklin said. "This last, a little over a week up to the game, we still have some work to do. A lot of it is, not just figuring out who the guys are, but all of the moving parts that factor into it...We haven't really had the same five guys at the same five spots for multiple practices yet. That's kind of where we are at now. We've had a chance to evaluate all of these guys. Now, it's how do we get the best five on the field complementing each other, playing as a unit and getting some consistency there. That's what we are going to be doing now for the next week and a half."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Leadership Council Important to Lions, Franklin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin believes the Nittany Lions can never have too much leadership on and off the field.

In addition to Penn State's seven team captains, a group comprising of 27 players adds to the team's leadership. The Penn State Football Leadership Council, which meets at least twice a month, has representatives from each class to keep the players, coach Franklin and the program on the same page.

This year's representatives include seniors Adrian Amos, Brad Bars, Bill Belton, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Dieffenbach, Sam Ficken, Mike Hull, Ryan Keiser, Jesse Merise, C.J. Olaniyan, Devin Pryor, Tyrone Smith, Deron Thompson and Zach Zwinak; juniors Deion Barnes, Kyle Carter, Jesse James, Ben Kline, Jordan Lucas, Angelo Mangiro and Donovan Smith; sophomores Brandon Bell, Christian Hackenberg, Austin Johnson and Akeel Lynch; freshmen Andrew Nelson and Garrett Sickels.

"We meet roughly twice a month to talk about what's going on in the family," Olaniyan said. "It's a great way to talk about all of the positive things that are going on and to discuss how we can improve some of the negatives."

The leadership council is a voice on behalf of the team from the locker room. Additionally, it's a collection of players who can keep Coach Franklin in the loop of how the team is doing and ideas of where things can be improved within the program or the community.

"It's a great way for each class to have a voice and to make sure everyone is on the same page," Hackenberg said. "We are all able to share opinions of what we are seeing and how we can make things better."

"One thing, too, that it has really helped during the past few months is that it has given Coach a chance to know the team a little better," Belton said.

The group, which meets in Coach Franklin's office, brings items to the agenda ranging from which players are performing well to improvements in the amenities in the locker room or player's lounge. Several video game systems were added this summer to the players' lounge.

"Discussing things like the new video games in the lounge are great," Lynch said. "We brought an idea to Coach Franklin as a group, and it is an improvement for collective team."

Both sides - coaches and players - have felt like the leadership council is great for the program.

"It's a direct link from the locker room to Coach Franklin," Lynch said. "I think it's been great. It's a way to talk amongst ourselves and create a collective voice to five Coach Franklin an idea of what is going on in the locker room with a common voice. It's really easy to talk with Coach Franklin as a group."

As the season progresses, the Council may meet more than the usual twice a month as it becomes necessary to do so. With a strong few months of dialogue in place, the consistent leadership from across the roster is a positive for the current team and the future of Penn State Football.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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