Day 2 Photo Gallery - Practice and Welcome Dinner
FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - The Nittany Lion football team practiced for the first time in Florida during TaxSlayer Bowl game week on Tuesday afternoon at Fernandina Beach High School.
Temperatures in the 80s and partly cloudy skies greeted the team as it took the field on Amelia Island. Practicing in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets, Penn State worked through its normal Tuesday game week routine in the warm conditions.
Head coach James Franklin kicked off practice by having a little fun with a role reversal of some of the young offensive players serving as defensive backs and young defensive players serving as receivers in a one-on-one drill. The matchups also included several staff members, including assistant coaches Josh Gattis and Terry Smith.
The post-practice media availability focused on defense and special teams on Tuesday, with coordinator Bob Shoop and a host of players spending time with the approximately 25 media members who attended the last few periods of Tuesday's practice.
Coach Shoop's message to the team during a meeting earlier this week was to play the TaxSlayer Bowl with the mindset that this postseason game will play a big role in defining the 2015 team's legacy. Leading up to gameday, Shoop said the team has practiced with a sense of urgency and intensity to ensure the reps and drills have been crisp as the 71st TaxSlayer Bowl inches closer.
"I think this is a great opportunity for us," said Shoop. "We've practiced really well. There has been a lot of juice and a lot of energy. I think about all of the seniors in this group, and that's a special group of men...Nobody on this team has had a losing season. To be in Jacksonville on Jan. 2 playing Georgia is a great opportunity for us. Everybody has really practiced well, and they are looking forward to it."
The Nittany Lions had a group of visitors from the Jacksonville area at the end of practice on Tuesday. Approximately 15 families and children from Dreams Come True, an organization in the northeastern portion of Florida serving as a non-profit dedicated to granting dreams for children with life-threatening illness, watched practice and interacted with the players after the team finished Tuesday's session.
The practice attendees from Dreams Come True visited from Jacksonville, St. Augustine and southern Georgia. The organization has been affiliated with the TaxSlayer Bowl for more than 10 years, but Tuesday was the first time the children were able to attend a practice.
For the team, spending time at the expansive pool area on the team hotel's property and beach have been highlights during the stay in Florida. Running back and special teams ace Nick Scott said that he spent all evening on Monday at the pool, and on Tuesday, he and the Lions were headed to the Atlantic Ocean after practice.
"The pool has been my favorite part (at the hotel). It's awesome," Scott said. "A lot of the guys have walked along the beach, but I'm definitely planning on going out into the water today."
The Nittany Lion travel party participated in a welcome dinner at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation on Tuesday night. The surf and turf buffet featured a wide array of local seafood. The team will practice in the morning on Wednesday before a trip to Naval Station Mayport for a tour and lunch.
Post-Practice Player Remarks - Defense & Special Teams
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