Recently in Football Category

VIDEO: One-on-One with James Franklin - Jan. 16

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Prior to hitting the road for recruiting, Penn State head coach James Franklin sat down with for a second one-on-one interview this week.

It has been a whirlwind first five days for Franklin on the job.  Take a look at a conversation with the new leader of Penn State football on his coaching style, what he looks for in a coaching staff, recruiting message and more.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Franklin, Nittany Lions Ready to Work

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

VIDEO: Player Interviews - Jan. 15 | VIDEO: One-on-One with James Franklin

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It looked and sounded like the first day of school as Nittany Lion players began filing into the locker room at Lasch Building around 6:20 p.m. on Sunday night in advance of the team's first squad meeting with new head coach James Franklin at 7 p.m.

9612733.jpegGuys were chatting, giving one another a hard time and genuinely happy to see each other.  The team walked across the hall from the locker room to the squad room shortly before 6:50 p.m., sat down in the amphitheater-style seats by position and awaited the arrival of its new head coach.

When Franklin walked in and stood at the top of the room, the players stopped talking.  Franklin spoke up and joked that while the group waited for a couple more people they could still talk.  The players chuckled and went back to conversing and shaking hands with guys they hadn't seen in three weeks during winter break.

"Everybody was really excited," cornerback Jordan Lucas said.  "When we met up in the locker room before the meeting, it was like a family reunion."

Following a brief introduction from Director of Athletics Dave Joyner, Coach Franklin walked down the stairs to the front of the room before his team at 6:56 p.m.  The players clapped and provided a warm reception before giving the new had coach their undivided attention.

Franklin's opening message was simple.  He told the group that he wants the team to be a close-knit family that is going to do everything in its power to outwork everyone.

"We're going to work extremely hard," Franklin said.  "You know, there is not going to be a program or a coach in the country that's going to outwork us."

 When the Nittany Lion players heard that statement, they were ready to get into the weight room and start working.

"He came in and had a lot of energy when we first spoke with him," Lucas said.  "He let us know his vision.  We're all excited and ready to start winter workouts."

"I love it.  He brings a lot of intensity to the program, picking up right where we left off," quarterback Christian Hackenberg said.  "I think he is the perfect guy for the job.  We're really excited to start getting him in here more once recruiting is over and start focusing on some ball."

Franklin had each player on the team stand and introduce himself so that he could put a face to a name and begin the process of creating a tight bond between everyone in the program.

"I just think he is a big relationship guy," tight end Adam Breneman said.  "He's very personable.  He's very charismatic.  I think he's going to be great in recruiting, and I think he's going to build great relationships with all of us."

Regardless of a player's position on the depth chart, he is going to have a role in Coach Franklin's program.  He made that clear in the team meeting.  He needs everyone to contribute to make the Nittany Lions a strong, cohesive unit.

"I really liked how he assigned everyone a role, whether you are a fourth-team guy or a starter," linebacker Mike Hull said.  "We need everyone to pull together in order to win."

A passionate coach in every sense of the word, Franklin set the tone for his tenure at Penn State during his introductory press conference last Saturday.  Determined to be the make Penn State the most successful program it can be, Franklin won't accept anything less than hard work and a positive attitude.

"I'm just going to coach and love these kids in this program and help them develop into the young men that they want to be," Franklin said.  "That's our focus.  Focus on the things we can control, work hard every day to develop the best student athletes we can, develop the best football program we possibly can, and be a positive part of this community."

"We knew he was a coach of determination," defensive end C.J. Olaniyan said.  "We know he is going to try and get the best out of us."

The next step for the Nittany Lion players is the start of the winter conditioning program.  The new strength and conditioning staff is expected to be in place soon, and the Lions are eager to commence preparations for 2014.

"I'm chomping at the bit right now," said Hackenberg.  "We have a lot of guys coming back.  We have a lot of young talent that played last year.  We're going to get after it in the weight room."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Nittany Lion Players Eager to Get Started

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several Nittany Lion players met with the media on Wednesday afternoon inside the Lasch Building weight room.  Offering their first impressions of new head coach James Franklin after meeting him on Sunday at the first squad meeting, the team is excited to begin winter conditioning in preparation for the 2014 season. talked with a host of Nittany Lions, including quarterback Christian Hackenberg, linebacker Mike Hull, safety Adrian Amos, tight end Adam Breneman, defensive end C.J. Olaniyan and cornerback Jordan Lucas.  Take a look.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: James Franklin's First 48 Hours at Penn State

| 5 Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It has been a whirlwind first 48 hours for new head coach James Franklin in Happy Valley.

From the moment he landed at University Park Airport on Saturday to his first Monday in the Lasch Building, followed the new leader of Penn State Football.  Take an inside look at Franklin's first 48 hours at Penn State.


1:35 p.m. - Touch Down in State College
Franklin, his wife Fumi and his daughters, Shola and Addison, landed at the University Park at 1:33 p.m. to begin his journey as head coach.  Before hopping in a vehicle, Franklin walked to a fence lined with Penn State fans to say hello and thank the supporters for standing in the rain to see his arrival.

1:40 p.m. - Rode to the Bryce Jordan Center
After the family's first drive past Beaver Stadium, Franklin entered the Bryce Jordan Center for press conference preparation inside the 101 office suite of the BJC.

3:49 p.m. - Arrived at Beaver Stadium
The Franklin family drove in through Gate E at Beaver Stadium for their first look inside the 107,000-seat home of the Nittany Lions.  Franklin's first steps in the stadium included a walk from the locker room door to the field, just as he will each home Saturday in the fall.  He and the family then posed for photos on the field outside the South Tunnel.  His first impression of the stadium?

"First-class in every way.  It is one of the more impressive stadiums to walk into.  I'm excited to take recruits in here," Franklin said.

4:10 p.m. - Locker Room Photos
The Franklin family posed for photos inside the locker room just before walking into the media room for his formal introduction.

4:20 p.m. - Coach's First Remarks at Press Conference
Following an introduction from President Rodney Erickson and Director of Athletics Dave Joyner, Franklin made his opening remarks to a packed media room.

"I'm excited to come home," Franklin said. "That is probably the thing that I take the most pride in is coming home.  I'm a Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart, and so excited to be here."

4:26 p.m. - Closing Remarks Before Q&A
Franklin closed his opening statement with excitement before members of the media began asking questions in the room.

"Can't tell you how excited we are to be here," Franklin said.  "My name is James Franklin, the next head football coach at Penn State University, and I couldn't be more proud to represent everybody here. Thank you."

5:08 p.m. - End of Press Conference
As the introductory press conference ended, Franklin posed for photos in front of the media room before heading back to the locker room for a one-on-one interview with "Penn State Football - The Next Chapter" TV show and

5:23 p.m. - Official Headshot is Taken
Franklin sat down with Penn State Athletics photographer Mark Selders for his official head shot inside the locker room.

5:35 p.m. - Beaver Stadium Field for Photos
Franklin and his two daughters walked out the South Tunnel in Beaver Stadium for media photographs just as dusk set in on his first day in Happy Valley.

6:12 p.m. - Arrived at Lasch Building for First Time
Franklin got his first look at the Lasch Football Building on Saturday evening.  He toured the facility and met a number of the Penn State Football support staff members.

6:15 p.m. - BTN Interview at Lasch Building
Inside the Lasch Building's studio, Franklin interviewed with the Big Ten Network for the first time.

6:20 p.m. - Met with Early Enrollees
Following the interview, Franklin met with Penn State's five early enrollee student-athletes and their families inside the Lasch squad room.

7:10 p.m. - ESPN SportsCenter Call
From his second-floor office phone, Franklin called into SportsCenter for a live interview.


12:45 a.m. - Finished Work Day
After getting to work on recruiting, Franklin ended his first day as head coach of the Nittany Lions at 12:45 a.m.  With 438 congratulatory text messages on his phone, Franklin worked to respond to a number of individuals before he went to bed at 1 a.m.

4 a.m. - Started Day Two
As he said he would during his introductory press conference, Franklin was up early and ready to get back to work.  He was back in to work at 5 a.m. to begin day two as leader of the program.

12:15 p.m. - Introduced at Women's Volleyball Banquet
A busy day of public appearances began at the 2013 NCAA champion women's volleyball team's banquet at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.  Franklin met a number of fans and members of the team before taking a seat at the banquet next to Sue and Jay Paterno.  After a brief introduction from women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, Franklin addressed the crowd.

"Five national championships in seven years, I clearly understand the expectations around here," Franklin joked.

1:30 p.m. - Met Christian Hackenberg at Nittany Lion Inn
From the Penn Stater, Franklin crossed the University Park campus for a meeting with Nittany Lion quarterback Christian Hackenberg at the Nittany Lion Inn.

1:30 p.m. - Met Fans Inside Rec Hall
From the Hackenberg meeting, Franklin made his way inside Rec Hall to meet with a number of Penn State fans and head coach Cael Sanderson prior to the Nittany Lion wrestling team's Big Ten dual against Purdue.

2 p.m. - Mat Side with Family for Wrestling Match
Franklin and his family sat mat-side during the first five bouts of the Nittany Lions' 34-3 victory over the Boilermakers.

2:58 p.m. - Introduced at Wrestling Match
The Franklin family was introduced to a standing ovation inside a sold out Rec Hall before Shola and Addison led a We Are...Penn State chant.

3 p.m. - Radio Interview at Wrestling
Franklin did a brief interview with Penn State wrestling radio announcer Jeff Byers before heading across campus.

3:47 p.m. - Introduced at the Bryce Jordan Center During Women's Basketball
Following a brief exchange with Lady Lion head coach Coquese Washington at halftime of Penn State's matchup against Purdue, Franklin was introduced before the Bryce Jordan Center crowd.

3:52 p.m. - Radio Interview at Women's Basketball
Franklin conducted a brief live radio interview with Lady Lion basketball play-by-play announcer Jerry Fisher, along with an on-camera interview with before heading back to work at the Lasch Building.

6:56 p.m. - Introduced by Dave Joyner at First Team Meeting
Dr. Joyner introduced Franklin to the Nittany Lion players at his first Penn State squad meeting.  Franklin walked from the top step in the squad meeting to the front of the room as the players gave him a rousing ovation.  Each student-athlete stood up and introduced himself during the 30-minute meeting before Franklin answered any questions the players had.


4:53 a.m. - Arrived at Lasch to Begin Work Day
Franklin pulled into the front parking lot of the Lasch Building and walked to his desk on the second floor to begin his first Monday as head coach of the Nittany Lions before 5 a.m.  Franklin had administrative meetings on his agenda for Monday morning before making final preparations for the next few weeks of recruiting in advance of signing day on Feb. 5.


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: James Franklin Visits Penn State Sports Events

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin made the rounds on Sunday, visiting three Penn State sporting events during his second day in Happy Valley.

Franklin's first stop was the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center where he offered congratulations to head coach Russ Rose and the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team on winning the 2013 NCAA championship at their team banquet.  Franklin and his family then sat mat-side in Rec Hall at the three-time defending champion Penn State wrestling team's match against Purdue.  He finished off the day at the Bryce Jordan Center for an introduction at the Lady Lion basketball game against Purdue.

Take a look.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: One-on-One with Head Coach James Franklin

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football head coach James Franklin was officially introduced on Saturday afternoon shortly after 4:15 p.m. in the Beaver Stadium.

"I can't tell you how proud I am to be your football coach and to represent everybody in the great state of Pennsylvania, and to be a part of Penn State University," Franklin said.

Following his formal introductory press conference, Coach Franklin sat down with for a one-on-one interview.  The new leader of Penn State football discussed a wide range of topics, including a message to the fans, his initial impressions of Beaver Stadium and coming back home to Pennsylvania.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Penn State Football's New Leader - The James Franklin File

| 5 Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - James Franklin became the 16th leader of Penn State Football in its storied 127 seasons on the gridiron following an official announcement on Saturday morning.

Franklin brings 18 years of coaching experience to the Nittany Lion football program.  Let's take a closer look at Franklin's path to Happy Valley.

9596483.jpeg1991-'94 - East Stroudsburg (Player)
Franklin was a four-year letterwinner at quarterback for East Stroudsburg.  He earned All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) honors twice.  As a senior, Franklin was named team MVP and was a nominee for the NCAA Division II Player of the Year - Harlon Hill Trophy.  Franklin set seven school records as a senior, including total offense (3,128), passing yards (2,586) and touchdown passes (19).

1995 - Assistant Coach - Wide Receivers - Kutztown
Franklin helped lead the Kutztown Golden Bears to a 6-4 record and a third-place finish in the PSAC.  He coached Darrien Peoples, who is fifth all-time at Kutztown in receptions and Justin Borlemay, who is fifth in school history in touchdown catches.

1996 - Graduate Assistant Coach - Secondary - East Stroudsburg
Returning to his alma mater, Franklin assisted his collegiate head coach, Denny Douds.  Franklin helped the Warriors to a 6-4 record.

1997 - Assistant Coach - Wide Receivers - James Madison
Working under head coach Alex Wood, Franklin worked with the wide receivers during his year at James Madison.  Receiver Earnest Payton, who was a junior at the time, went on to finish as the school's leader in receptions (185).

1998 - Graduate Assistant Coach - Tight Ends - Washington State
Under the direction of head coach Mike Price, Franklin worked with the tight ends as a graduate assistant coach at Washington State.

1999 - Assistant Coach - Wide Receivers - Idaho State
Franklin worked as the receivers coach under head coach Larry Lewis, helping the Bengals rank ninth nationally in total offense.

2000-'04 - Assistant Coach - Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator - Maryland
Hired by Ron Vanderlinden prior to the 2000 season, Franklin also worked under Ralph Friedgen when he was named head coach in November.  Franklin helped the Terps earn three-straight postseason berths from 2001-'03, including an appearance in the 2002 FedEx Orange Bowl.  Maryland posted at least 10 victories in each of the three seasons.  In 2003, Franklin was promoted to recruiting coordinator.  He was named a Top 25 recruiter by in 2003 and 2004.

2005 - Assistant Coach - Wide Receivers - Green Bay Packers
Assisting head coach Mike Sherman, Franklin worked with a receiving corps led by Donald Driver, Javon Walker and Robert Ferguson.  With legendary quarterback Brett Favre directing the offense, the Packer receivers ranked third in receptions (383) and posted the seventh-most receiving yards (3,766) in the NFL in 2005.  Driver tallied then-career highs of 86 receptions for 1,221 yards.  At the time, Driver was just the fourth player with 85 receptions in a season.

9596485.jpeg2006-'07 - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks - Kansas State
In his first season as offensive coordinator, Franklin helped the Wildcats to a 7-6 record, including a 45-42 victory over No. 4 Texas.  Kansas State earned its first bowl berth in three seasons in 2006.  In 2007, Franklin guided a K-State offense that featured a 3,000-yard passer, 1,500-yard receiver and 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in team history.  Franklin helped guide quarterback Josh Freeman to numerous school records.  Freeman threw for 3,353 yards, including 122 completions to All-American receiver Jordy Nelson.  Freeman was selected in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft (17th pick overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2008-'10 - Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks - Maryland
Ralph Friedgen hired Franklin to be assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in December of 2007.  In his first year as offensive coordinator, Franklin helped lead the Terps past four ranked teams en route to a bowl victory in the 2008 Roady's Humanitarian Bowl.  Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bay was selected by the Oakland Raiders as the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.  The Terrapins went 9-4 in 2010, finishing second in the ACC's Atlantic Division.  During that season, quarterback Danny O'Brien earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors under Franklin's guidance.  Wide receiver Torrey Smith earned first-team All-ACC honors with 67 receptions for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010.  Additionally, named Franklin a Top 25 recruiter for the fourth time in his career. 

2011-'13 - Head Coach - Vanderbilt
In three seasons, Franklin guided Vanderbilt football to unprecedented heights.  An exceptional motivator and tireless worker, Franklin led the Commodores to three-straight bowl games for the first time in school history.  With a 24-15 overall record, only College Football Hall of Fame head coach Dan McGuin (1904-'06) had as many wins over a three-year period at Vanderbilt.  Franklin inherited a team that had gone 2-10 in two-straight seasons and directed them to an appearance in the Liberty Bowl.  A Bear Bryant Coach of the Year finalist, Franklin led the Commodores to nine wins in 2012, their most since 1915, which also included a win in the Music City Bowl.  The 2012 team finished in the Top 25 in both the USA Today/Coaches Poll (20th) and Associated Press Poll (23rd).  In 2013, Vanderbilt knocked off Florida, Georgia and Tennessee in the same season for the first time ever en route to a nine-win season, marking the first back-to-back nine-win seasons at Vanderbilt in nine decades.  Vandy finished 2013 ranked No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, marking the first time in the program's 124-year history that it had Top 25 finishes in consecutive seasons.  In his last 20 games at Vanderbilt, Franklin was 16-4, mark that is only surpassed in the SEC by Alabama (17-3).  The Commodores knocked off Houston, 41-24, in the BBVA Compass Bowl.  Wide receiver Jordan Mathews became a two-time All-American and first-team All-SEC honoree, having compiled 262 receptions for 3,759 yards and 24 touchdowns.  Mathews broke the SEC season record with 112 receptions for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, becoming the first SEC receiver to make 100 catches in a season.

Born on Feb. 2, 1972 (41), Franklin's hometown is Langhorne, Pa.  Franklin attended Neshaminy High School near Philadelphia.  He and his wife, Fumi, have two daughters, Ava (7) and Addison (6).

Alma Mater
East Stroudsburg University (B.S., Psychology, 1995)

Graduate Degree
Washington State University (M.A., Educational Leadership, 1999)

Leading Penn State
The 16th leader of Penn State football inherits a Nittany Lion squad coming off a 7-5 season.  The Nittany Lions return a great deal of talent on both sides of the ball.  The Lions return 15 starters for the 2014 season (7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist).  Penn State's offseason officially begins Monday when spring classes begin with a new leader directing the program.  In 231 days, a new chapter of Penn State football will begin at Croke Park Stadium when the Nittany Lions collide with 2014 Fiesta Bowl champion UCF in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Larry Johnson Leading Program Forward During Transition Phase

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

Larry Johnson Media Transcript - Jan. 3 | VIDEO: Larry Johnson Addresses Media

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Longtime Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson is embracing the opportunity to lead the football program through its transition phase until the next head coach is named.

9581406.jpegJohnson, who has worked in Happy Valley for 19 years (15 as defensive line coach), has one mission during the current period of time as interim head coach - keep things moving forward.

The current players on the roster return to campus on Jan. 13 for the start of the spring semester.  Johnson said they are looking forward to being back on campus to kick off preparations for 2014.

"They are excited to get going again and to get in the weight room and start moving forward to the 2014 season," Johnson said.

Offseason conditioning in the weight room began in December before final exams.  It will continue when the players return to campus.  National Signing Day for 2014 is Feb. 5.  Communication with the current players and prospects are the two areas Johnson is focused on in the immediate future.

"It is really about communication right now and really communicating to our players and our future players and just continuing to move the ship...We are going business as usual.  We are not going to slow down," Johnson said.

Regardless of the situation, Johnson said the message remains the same.

"We always tell kids in recruiting, you like to come for the coach, but you want to come for the place," Johnson said.  "You want to come to Penn State University to get a great degree.  I think that is still there.  Kids are going to come and continue to come because Penn State University.  It's a great place.  It's a great institution and you get a chance to play football at the highest level.  Those things are still there."

While the veteran coach is working long hours to man everything that needs to be moving forward and going to great lengths to talk with current and prospective student-athletes, Johnson is excited about what is ahead for Penn State Football.

"I think this is a great time for Penn State Football to begin another chapter, and I'm looking forward to being a part of that in any way that I can.  I am very blessed and very fortunate to have the opportunity to do this for the University, a place that I love and care a lot about, and I care a lot about our players."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Search Process for Next Head Coach Underway

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The search for the 16th head coach in Penn State Football history is underway.

Penn State Director of Athletics Dave Joyner addressed the media on Thursday morning following the announcement that Bill O'Brien has accepted a position as head coach of the NFL's Houston Texans.

9578957.jpegJoyner said that the process is expected to move at a swift pace as Penn State looks for its next leader of the football program.

"We expect this search to be very timely," Joyner said.  "Our anticipation is that we'll be counting this in a matter of days rather than weeks."

A six-person search committee has been formed to handle the process of finding the new head coach.  The committee members include - Joyner (Chair); Dr. Tom Poole - Vice President for Administration; Charmelle Green - Associate Athletic Director, Senior Woman Administrator; Dr. Linda Caldwell - Faculty Athletics Representative, Distinguished Professor; Bob Warming - Penn State Men's Soccer head coach and Wally Richardson - Director of the Penn State Football Letterman's Club.

Joyner noted on Thursday morning that there has been tremendous interest in the head coaching position.  The process, as is standard procedure for any head coach search within the department, will remain confidential until the next head coach of the program has been announced.

"It's going to be a very robust search, and there's an extreme amount of interest in this for a lot of reasons," Joyner said.  "We have a great fan base here.  We have tremendous interest.  Look at the media that's in this room.  We have the fifth largest attendance again this year, and the kind of support that a head coach will get here from the community as well as the media as well as our fans and our student‑athletes in the Penn State community will be tremendous.  So that kind of excitement, that kind of fervor really is the undercurrent of this search."

During the process, Larry Johnson will be the interim head coach.  Johnson is a tremendously respected figure in the football program, and he will serve as the point of contact for the current student-athletes on the roster and handle the recruiting duties until a new head coach is in place.

"Larry Johnson is a tremendous individual, as you all know," Joyner said.  "He means a lot to Penn State, and he's meant a lot to these players over the years.  So we're very, very fortunate to have a man of Larry Johnson's caliber to be able to act as the glue right now in between."

Asked what he is looking for in the next head coach, Joyner said that like any facet of Penn State Intercollegiate Athletes, he seeks "IAC" - 1. Integrity 2. Academics 3. Championships.  Head coaching experience will be a very important part of consideration, but is not an absolute requirement, Joyner said.

"Obviously, we got an unbelievable head coach who was an offensive coordinator ahead of his time," Joyner said.  "So it depends on the individual in the end.  But our job is to get the best coach available out there.  Certainly, head coaching experience is a very desirable requisite."

As the search process will move at a swift pace, Joyner stressed the importance to best serve the interests of the student-athletes.

"Our job for all the student‑athletes here is to get the best football coach possible, to lead them as we move forward, and we make our pledge to do that, and we make our pledge to do that in a contracted time frame, but do it appropriately and with great thought and great analysis," Joyner said.

Finally, would like to wish Coach O'Brien the best of luck in his transition to the Houston Texans.  O'Brien provided superb leadership for Penn State Football during some of its most difficult times.  Additionally, Coach O'Brien contributed great analysis and insight for the Football Blog on a regular basis to enable us to provide the best coverage possible for the Penn State fans.

We look forward to continuing the in-depth coverage of the Nittany Lions in the next chapter of Penn State Football.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Counting Down the Top 10 Plays from 2013

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the spirit of spreading some holiday cheer, 'tis the season for reliving some of the best plays from the 2013 Penn State Football season.  Let's count down's Top 10 plays from 2013.  We will reveal one play each day, with No. 1 falling on Dec. 31.

No. 10 - Christian Hackenberg Finds Jesse James at Wisconsin
With the score tied at 14-14 mid-way through the third quarter at Wisconsin on Nov. 30, Christian Hackenberg capped off a 67-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jesse James.  While the throw was placed in a perfect spot, James' catch with a defender all over him earned the play a spot on the Top 10 list.

No. 9 - Trevor Williams Seals the Opener with an Interception
Leading 23-17 with 2:08 to play inside MetLife Stadium against Syracuse, the Penn State defense knew it could seal a victory with one more stop.  Sophomore cornerback clinched win No. 1 in 2013 with a toe-dragging, sideline interception on a Drew Allen pass with 1:53 to play.

No. 8 - Sam Ficken Kicks into the Beaver Stadium Record Book
Junior placekicker Sam Ficken added his name to the Beaver Stadium record book with the longest Penn State field goal in stadium history against Kent State.  Ficken drilled a 54-yard kick on a soggy afternoon to help Penn State notch a 34-0 shutout against the Golden Flashes.

No. 7 - C.J. Olaniyan Snags and Interception at Wisconsin
With a 21-14 lead in the third quarter at Wisconsin, the Nittany Lion defense teamed up for a big turnover in Wisconsin territory.  Linebacker Brandon Bell provided the pressure on a blitz, and C.J. Olaniyan snagged an interception on a tipped pass from Joel Stave before a 33-yard return.

No. 6 - Christian Hackenberg Connects with Eugene Lewis at Wisconsin
With a defender bearing down on him in the pocket, Christian Hackenberg delivered a perfect strike to a streaking Eugene Lewis for a 59-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter at Wisconsin.  Just like the two did in the season-opener, Hackenberg and Lewis connected on a big play to help seal a victory away from Beaver Stadium.

No. 5 - Mike Hull Breaks Up a Pass at the Goal Line
After a scoreless first overtime period, the Nittany Lion defense trotted out onto the field looking to keep Michigan out of the end zone.  Linebacker Mike Hull did his part in making sure the Wolverines would not score with an acrobatic pass breakup at the 1-yard line.

No. 4 - Allen Robinson Reverses Field for Long Touchdown
Two-time Big Ten Receiver of the Year and All-American wide receiver Allen Robinson could have his own Top 10 list in 2013.  In the fourth quarter at Ohio State, the Michigan native added a highlight reel catch and run to his list of big career plays.

No. 3 - Adrian Amos and Ryan Keiser Combine on a Turnover in Overtime
Christian Hackenberg found Kyle Carter for a 15-yard touchdown on the first drive in overtime against Illinois.  With a 24-17 lead, the Nittany Lions needed one stand to clinch a victory.  Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase looked to the end zone on the Illini's first play in overtime, but Adrian Amos and Ryan Keiser were there waiting.

No. 2 - Bill Belton Scores to Beat Michigan in 4OT
Following the dramatic final drive in regulation and three nail-biting overtimes, Bill Belton sealed a Penn State victory over Michigan with a 2-yard touchdown score into the north end zone at Beaver Stadium.

No. 1 - The Final Drive Against Michigan
Down 34-27 with 50 seconds to play and zero timeouts, Christian Hackenberg and the Nittany Lion offense knew there was one final chance to send the game into overtime.  A completion to Allen Robinson kick-started the drive, and the rest will live in Penn State lore for years to come.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony