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2014 Coaches Caravan Day V - Philadelphia & Scranton

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VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Day IV Roundup

Philadelphia Photo Gallery | Scranton Photo GalleryCoaches Caravan Registration


PECKVILLE, Pa. -  The second day of leg two on the road with the Penn State Coaches Caravan featured a trip through downtown Philadelphia and a packed house in Scranton on Wednesday.

Philly natives James Franklin, field hockey's Charlene Morett and women's soccer's Erica Walsh highlighted Wednesday's lunch stop.  Additionally, four-time defending NCAA wrestling champion head coach Cael Sanderson joined the cast of coaches for Wednesday's event.  Take a look at some highlights.
    


Stop No. 9 - Philadelphia (The Rittenhouse Hotel)


 
Wednesday's lunch took place in the heart of downtown Philadelphia at The Rittenhouse Hotel.  More than 250 fans filled the ballroom to greet the four coaches during an excellent lunch event.  Franklin, Morett and Walsh had a little extra bounce in their step after the Philly natives took a drive down Broad Street en route to Center City for the lunch.

Wednesday's crowd was superb, and the group gave all four coaches a standing ovation after they spoke.  Like the gathering in King of Prussia on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia supporters of Penn State Athletics are a diehard group of fans.

Walsh has been a tough act to follow during her two weeks on the Caravan.  Her campus tour speech is filled with details and beaming with pride.  Whether it was Bob Warming, Morett or Sanderson, every coach who has stepped to the podium following Walsh has remarked about her tremendous description of the Penn State campus.  Sanderson had his first crack at following the leader of Penn State women's soccer for the first time on Wednesday.

"That's tough to follow.  I just want to have lunch," Sanderson joked.

caravan_philly_1.jpgFresh off the program's fourth-straight NCAA title, Sanderson has an endless supply of things to talk about.  But that's not his style.  Sanderson deflects the attention off of himself to talk about the positive energy surrounding the football program and how the football program serves as the engine for the health of the athletic department.

"They have the vision, the passion and the pride.  We are in very good hands," Sanderson said of Franklin and the football staff.

He went on to urge the crowd to buy football season tickets now.

"Get your tickets now because when they get going, you're not going to be able to get them in a few years," Sanderson said.

Franklin talks about the state of pride in Penn State each time he addresses a caravan crowd.  That could not be more apparent during the first nine stops during the past couple weeks.  The fan base is excited for what's ahead.  And the fellow coaches in the department are just as excited.

"There are so many things to be excited about," Morett said.

Morett finished off her stint on the Coaches Caravan in Philly.  She will now hit the recruiting trail.  From Philly, the Fullington bus rolled north towards Scranton.



Stop No. 10 - Scranton (Fiorelli Catering)



Day two of the second week wrapped up in front of the Caravan's largest crowd in Peckville, Pa. (Outside of Scranton).  Nearly 900 Penn State fans crammed into the ballroom at Fiorelli Catering to welcome a great group from the Penn State Athletics family during the local alumni chapter's 36th annual event.  The list of attendees included Northeast Pennsylvania products and current Nittany Lions Eugene Lewis, Nyeem Wartman, Gary Wooten and Brian Tomasetti and the voice of the Nittany Lions, Steve Jones.

Prior to dinner, Coach Franklin met a throng of fans that lined up more than 90 minutes prior to when the program began at 7:30 p.m.  Fan after fan walked up to Franklin for an opportunity to shake hands and take photos for nearly an hour.  Some offered advice.  Some told stories. Some even offered gifts.

Walsh and Sanderson both spoke prior to Franklin, energizing the room packed with Nittany Lion supporters.  But it was Franklin who got the room buzzing during an informal auction for game tickets to select Nittany Lion games in the fall and season tickets.  Franklin triggered a bidding war with the microphone that led to two fans battling up to $8,000 for a pair of season tickets.  When the final bid was announced as the winner, the room erupted with approval and rose to its feet.

scranton_1.jpg"In this room, I feel like I'm already in Beaver Stadium.  You can't move for all of the people," Sanderson said when describing the atmosphere.

Franklin's remarks were passionate and filled with energy as he closed out the evening's lineup of speakers.  While highlighting his vision for the football program, Franklin reminded the Scranton crowd of what is important in the quest to become the top program.

"Success is about doing all of the little things better than everybody else in the country," Franklin said.

Throughout all three speeches, the crowd of nearly 900 was glued to the speaker at the podium.  Walsh, Sanderson and Franklin all deserve a great deal of credit for their delivery on Wednesday night.

Simply put, the Scranton crowd was again tremendous for the third-straight year during the Caravan.

Before boarding the bus bound for the next stop in New Jersey, the Coaches Caravan crew paid a visit to 2012 Nittany Lion alum Eric Shrive's new restaurant - The Vault Tap Room & Restaurant - located in West Scranton.

Thursday's events will take place in Northern New Jersey and New York City before the Caravan heads back to State College.
    

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Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles
Day V - 245 miles


Total - 1,102 miles
    

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VIDEO: One-on-One with Josh Gattis on the Coaches Caravan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with offensive recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach Josh Gattis at the Coaches Caravan stop in King of Prussia.





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2014 Coaches Caravan Day IV - King of Prussia

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King of Prussia Photo Gallery | Coaches Caravan Registration


KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. - Leg two of the 2014 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday evening with a stop outside of Philadelphia.

The eighth stop of the 17-event caravan featured James Franklin, four-time defending NCAA national champion wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson, field hockey's Charlene Morett and women's soccer's Erica Walsh.  More than 700 Penn State enthusiasts greeted the coaches inside the event room at Valley Forge Casino Resort.  Take a look at some highlights from Tuesday's event.


Stop No. 8 - King of Prussia (Valley Forge Casino Resort)




More than 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and three of the four coaches on stage treated Tuesday night's Coaches Caravan event as a homecoming.  Hailing from Montgomery County, Walsh was just minutes where she grew up in Huntingdon Valley.

"I tried to get the whole caravan moved to the Phillies game (tonight)," Walsh joked.

Morett, who is on the Caravan for the Philly swing, is a proud product of Delaware County.  Like Walsh, she was thrilled to be in front of the home crowd on Tuesday night.

"I'm just a Philly girl coming back home," Morett said.

Morett spent a portion of her speech giving Walsh a hard time for not attending Penn State.  Walsh has spent the past two weeks on the Coaches Caravan delivering a superb visualization speech of the University Park campus.  Morett's response?

"After listening to your speech, how did you not go to Penn State?"

As a 27-year veteran as a head coach of the Nittany Lion field hockey program and Penn State alum, Morett is among the most passionate individuals you will find when it comes to her love for the University.  She genuinely appreciates the support fans and alums give to the school that means so much to her, and it's always evident when she speaks in front of a crowd.

The third Philly product in King of Prussia on Tuesday evening was the headliner of the event.  Franklin grew up in Langhorne, Pa., which is roughly 30 miles from the site of the stop.  As he has said from day one, Franklin is a Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart.  He's thrilled to be the head coach of the Nittany Lions, and he could not have been happier to be close to home.

"It's unbelievable to be here tonight," Franklin said.  "...The sense of pride in Penn State is unbelievable."

kop_1.jpg Joining the trio of Philly natives this week on the Caravan is the leader of the nation's premier collegiate wrestling program.  Always entertaining, Sanderson has a knack for keeping the crowd light every time he speaks in front of a group.  He was clad in a "Dominate The State" T-shirt under his suit jacket to show his support of Coach Franklin.

Sanderson's introduction included a small snippet of his unmatched wrestling and coaching career.  After receiving a standing ovation following the introduction, Sanderson stepped to the microphone and noted that the intro had left off his fourth-grade all-star baseball achievement.  The room erupted in laughter.

Sanderson likes to have fun with the crowd, but when it comes to his appreciation for the position he holds, his feelings are clear.

"It's an awesome opportunity to be a part of Penn State, and it's because of you guys," Sanderson said.

The Coaches Caravan travels downtown Philadelphia for a lunch stop on Wednesday before moving north to Scranton for a dinner event.

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Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles


Total - 857 miles

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Wrapping Up the 2014 NFL Draft

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three former Nittany Lions were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft over the weekend, marking the 40th time since 1970 that at least three Penn State student-athletes have been picked in a draft.

All-Big Ten standouts Allen Robinson, DaQuan Jones and John Urschel headlined Penn State's weekend during the NFL Draft in New York.  Robinson was the first Nittany Lion off the board when the Jacksonville Jaguars picked the Michigan native with the 61st overall pick in Friday's second round.  Jones was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 112th overall pick (fourth round).  Urschel was picked by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round (175th overall selection).

With the three draftees in 2014, Penn State's all-time number of student-athletes selected in the draft is 335.  Robinson became the second player to be selected by the Jaguars, joining defensive back James Boyd, who went to the Jags in the third round of the 2001 draft.

Jones is the fourth Nittany Lion picked by the Tennessee Titans, joining defensive back Calvin Lowry (2006), cornerback Rich Gardner (2004) and tight end Sean McHugh (2004) on the all-time list.  Urschel is the third Penn State player selected by the Ravens.  He joins free safety Kim Herring (1997) and quarterback Wally Richardson (1997) as Penn State players picked by the Ravens.

Looking at each position, Robinson is the first Penn State receiver to be selected in the NFL Draft since Deon Butler and Derrick Williams were picked by the Lions in 2009.  Four Nittany Lion receivers have been picked in the draft since 2000 (Robinson, Butler, Williams and Bryant Johnson).  In total, 17 Penn State receivers have been selected in the NFL Draft.

Jones joined a long list of Penn State defensive linemen in the Nittany Lion draft history.  Since 2003, 11 defensive linemen have been drafted, including five in the first round.  In five of the past six years, a Nittany Lion defensive lineman has been drafted in the first four rounds.  With Urschel's selection, five Penn State offensive linemen have been selected since 2009. 

In addition to the three players drafted, the Seattle Seahawks announced the signing of Garry Gilliam to a free agent contract.  The Arizona Cardinals announced the signing of linebacker Glenn Carson, as well.

Congratulations to Robinson, Jones and Urschel.  The OTA offseason workouts begin at the end of May - Jaguars: May 27-29; Titans: May 27-29; Ravens: May 28-30; Seahawks: May 27-29.



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VIDEO: One-on-One with Bob Shoop & Terry Smith in Pittsburgh

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with Pittsburgh area natives Bob Shoop and Terry Smith at the Coaches Caravan stop in Pittsburgh.




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VIDEO: One-on-One with Charles Huff on the Coaches Caravan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff during the 2014 Coaches Caravan stop in Washington, D.C.





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2014 Coaches Caravan Day III - Uniontown and Pittsburgh

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Uniontown Photo Gallery | Pittsburgh Photo Gallery | Coaches Caravan Registration

VIDEO: Day I Recap - York & Hershey | VIDEO: Day II Recap - Baltimore & Washington, D.C.

PITTSBURGH - The 2014 Coaches Caravan capped off its first full week on the road with two stops in the western half of Pennsylvania.

Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus played host to the final lunch stop of the week.  From there, the modified bus rolled north to Station Square in Pittsburgh for an evening reception.  Take a look through highlights from the third day on the road for the 2014 Coaches Caravan.


Stop No. 6 - Uniontown (Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus)


 
The Coaches Caravan bus departed Washington, D.C., just before 7 a.m. on Thursday for a scenic trek through the Appalachian Mountains en route to Uniontown for the sixth stop on the 17-event tour during May.  Thursday's stop at the Penn State Fayette campus was the first for the Coaches Caravan in its three-year existence.  The scenic campus is situated in a place with superb views in every direction.

"This is my first trip here, and this place is absolutely beautiful," women's soccer head coach Erica Walsh said.

Walsh, along with men's soccer head coach Bob Warming and football coach James Franklin again headlined the final day of the first week.  Walsh captivated the audience with another rendition of her visualization story of taking a prospective student-athlete on a recruiting visit.

Coaches Walsh and Warming have spent portions of the bus rides from event to event educating him on college and professional soccer.  Warming used it as a lighthearted joke with Penn State Fayette crowd.

"It has been so great to be on the bus to educate Coach Franklin about the most popular sport in the world - soccer," Warming said.

caravan_uniontown_1.jpg Having now been on the road for three days on the Coaches Caravan, Coach Franklin has gotten an opportunity to meet fans and supporters from several areas in Pennsylvania and surrounding region.  Since the day he arrived in Happy Valley, the support has stood out to him.  He is passionate towards the fan base and wants to meet as many folks as possible.

"It's great to get out around the state and connect with as many people as possible," Franklin said.  "The support has been the most impressive thing for me.  We need your support."

With two more weeks ahead, Franklin is eager to meet as many fans as possible.  The tone of his message has been constant over the first week of the Caravan.  He's thrilled to be the head coach of Penn State, and he wants to make the fan base proud of the football program.


Stop No. 7 - Pittsburgh (Sheraton Station Square)



The Caravan's first week on the road wrapped up in front of 450 fans in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.  Home to 56,000 alums in the greater metro area, the Steel City is home to some of Penn State's most loyal supporters.  The room was filled with energy from the moment the doors opened prior to the reception at 6 p.m., and  all three head coaches received a warm reception during their speeches.

Additionally, Pittsburgh area natives and assistant coaches Bob Shoop and Terry Smith joined Franklin, Walsh and Warming for the evening event.  Shoop (Oakmont) and Smith (Aliquippa) recruited in the area during the day before shaking hands with countless Nittany Lion fans at the evening event.  Nittany Lion great and former NFL quarterback Chuck Fusina was among the Pittsburgh area lettermen inside the Sheraton Station Square saying hello to Coach Franklin, as well.

caravan_pittsburgh_1.jpg All six stops this week featured passionate Penn State fans.  The individuals sitting in the rooms listening to the coaches speak are among the undying supporters the University's athletic department has.  However, Pittsburgh's rich history as a sports town, especially when it comes to football, always makes it an exciting evening event on the Coaches Caravan.  Thursday's event was no exception.

The NIttany Lions will begin a four-game series with rival Pitt beginning in 2016 (Sept. 10) when the two teams meet at Heinz Field.  The Penn State fan base in Pittsburgh is fired up for the team's return to the city, and it was clear on Thursday how excited the group is for the new era of the football program under the direction of Coach Franklin.

"This is your football program, not mine," Franklin said.  "I am so proud to be your head coach."

Thursday was the final day for Coach Warming to be on the Caravan.  The leader of the men's soccer program was terrific all week long.  He was candid, lighthearted and passionate when it came to delivering a message to illustrate how much he loves Penn State and how much he enjoys the support of Nittany Nation.

The Coaches Caravan returns to the road on Tuesday for a stop in King of Prussia.  Week two also includes a lunch stop in Philadelphia, dinner in Scranton, lunch in Northern New Jersey and an evening in New York City.

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Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles

Total - 682 miles

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


2014 Coaches Caravan Day II - Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

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Baltimore Photo Gallery | Washington, D.C. Photo Gallery

VIDEO: Day I Recap - York & HersheyCoaches Caravan Registration

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  The Coaches Caravan bus rolled south for day two of the first travel leg on Wednesday morning for stops at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

A sold out crowd of more than 230 enthusiastic fans greeted a cast of Penn State coaches, which included James Franklin, Erica Walsh and Bob Warming, in Baltimore.  Take a look through highlights from the second full day on the road for the 2014 Coaches Caravan.
    


Stop No. 4 - Baltimore (Marriott Inner Harbor)


Wednesday's lunch stop in Baltimore marked the third-straight sold out crowd during the initial leg of the 2014 Coaches Caravan.  On the heels of Tuesday's announcement that the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is headed to the area (Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.) in 2017, the Penn State fans in the room were excited about what is ahead as the conference's footprint extends to the East Coast.

"It's so great to be in your area," Walsh said.

The 2014-'15 athletic season marks the first with Maryland as a member of the Big Ten.  That being said, the 12,000 Penn State alums in the Baltimore area are thrilled to have Penn State's teams competing in Maryland on an annual basis.  The Nittany Lion football team is slated to return to Baltimore on Oct. 24, 2015 when it will take on Maryland inside M&T Bank Stadium.

Coach Franklin lived on and off in Maryland for eight years, a place he calls home.

"It's awesome to be back," Franklin said.

caravan_baltimore_1.jpgIn all, 10 players currently on the football roster or 2014 signees are from Maryland.  For the men's and women's soccer programs, the story is much of the same.  Walsh highlighted former Nittany Lion great and U.S. National Team standout Ali Krieger and former All-American and current National Women's Soccer League member Christine Nairn, who are both from the local area.  Warming's men's soccer team has three members from Maryland on it.

Like day one on the Caravan, each coach explained how the loyal supporters of Penn State play such an instrumental role in the success of the athletic programs.  Without the unrivaled support of the fan base, Penn State Athletics would not be what it is today.  That's what makes the Coaches Caravan a special three weeks.  It gives the coaches a chance to say thank you and provide some insight on what makes the programs tick.

"Penn State is a remarkable place for learning as a student," Warming said.  "And it's a remarkable place to learn as a coach."

"Success is about being able to do the little things better than anyone else," Franklin said.

caravan_baltimore_2.jpg The day ended with a lighthearted question for all three coaches on the stage.  A fan asked which flavor of ice cream at Berkey Creamery is their favorite.  Coach Walsh said that she likes to stick with vanilla.  Coach Warming likes strawberry.  Coach Franklin's answer was a bit different.

"My mission is to taste every flavor," Franklin said.
    


Stop No. 5 - Washington, D.C. (Marriott Wardman Park)


A crowd of more than 425 fans greeted the Penn State coaches in the nation's capital on Wednesday night.  The Washington, D.C., metro area is home to more than 25,000 alums.  Like the Baltimore event, the individuals in attendance were fired up to see Penn State teams making annual trips to the area with Maryland joining the Big Ten.

Coach Walsh opened the evening speeches with her great visualization story of a recruiting visit.  Before getting into the step-by-step process of recruiting, she had a joke for the attentive D.C. crowd.

"They usually put the key note speaker last, but we are switching things up on the Caravan," Walsh said.

Warming followed a standing ovation for Walsh with a speech to highlight his passion for Penn State and appreciation of the fans.  Additionally, he informed the crowd of the exponential growth of soccer around the country.  The leader of Penn State soccer spent much of the one-hour reception before the program began talking with fans about the sport.

caravan_DC_1.jpg "I love this crowd.  I've talked more soccer at this stop than any other we've been to," Warming said.

Warming, who was a member of the search committee to hire the new football coach in January, introduced Coach Franklin as one of the finest men that he has ever met.  Franklin then took the microphone in front of the room to a rousing cheer.

Franklin told the crowd how excited he is about the direction things are headed, largely because of the high-quality human beings that are on the team right now.  Following the individual meetings with every player on the roster in the past two weeks, Franklin said he has been incredibly impressed with the student-athletes since he took the job.

"We are in a really good place right now," Franklin said.  "They are really excited about the direction we are heading in."

As the fourth program drew to a close, Coach Franklin encouraged the group to return each Saturday in the fall.  He was genuinely happy to be in Maryland and D.C. on Wednesday to meet another group of passionate fans.

"I include Maryland and D.C. as part of our state in the Penn State family," Franklin said.

The Caravan heads to Penn State Fayette in Uniontown and Pittsburgh on Thursday to wrap up week one of the traveling events.
    



Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles

Total - 295 miles

caravan_mileage.jpg

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


2014 Coaches Caravan Day I - York and Hershey

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York Photo Gallery | Hershey Photo Gallery

Coaches Caravan Registration

HERSHEY, Pa. - The 2014 Penn State Coaches Caravan hit the road on Tuesday with a pair of sold out stops in York and Hershey to kick off the first full week of events.

The Penn State themed Fullington Trailways bus pulled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot at 8:15 a.m. en route to the Penn State York campus.  Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of a six-event week on the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 2 - York (Penn State York)

 
Head coaches James Franklin, Erica Walsh, Bob Warming and Coquese Washington headlined the first stop of the road tour on Tuesday.  After a media session, the coaches took the stage for a lunch program before a sold out crowd of more than 225 enthusiastic Penn State fans on the University's York campus.

Walsh, who will enter her eighth season as head coach of the women's soccer team in the fall, opened the panel of speakers.

"It's amazing to see so many people wearing Blue and White," Walsh said.

york_blog_1.jpgWalsh proceeded to take the fans through a vivid story of what a recruiting trip is like for a prospective student-athlete.  The leader of Penn State Women's Soccer guided the crowd through a recruiting visit weekend with every minute detail of what a trip to the campus is like.  From the academic buildings the soccer program takes recruits inside to a gameday experience in Beaver Stadium, Walsh painted a remarkable picture of what campus would look like for the first time as a 17-year-old prospective student-athlete.

"That is one example of many," Walsh said at the end of her speech.  "That (camaraderie on campus) is why we have won more national titles than anyone (tied with USC) since 2007."

Nittany Lion men's soccer coach Bob Warming addressed the crowd after Walsh.  Warming opened his speech by introducing Bob Little, a member of Penn State men's soccer's 1954 national championship team, who was in the York crowd on Tuesday afternoon.

york_blog_3.jpgWarming went on to joke with the attendees that he was thrilled to see a capacity crowd so excited to see Penn State's two soccer coaches.

"We know all of you came here to see Erica and I since soccer is the most popular sport in the world," Warming said with a laugh.

Lady Lion basketball head coach Coquese Washington kicked of the first of her two stops on the Caravan with a direct message to the loyal supporters in York.

"The fans, the alums, with how much all of you support us, it trickles down," Washington said.  "The student-athletes have such an unbelievable experience.  And your support is what lets provide that for them...You are part of our team."

Franklin stepped to the microphone as the featured speaker of the afternoon.  He first joked with the crowd that after listening to Coach Walsh's description of campus that he needs to get out of his office more and see the sights of what University Park has to offer.  After all, he has been living inside his office for more than month.

york_blog_2.jpgThe new leader of Penn State Football provided an update on the team, coaching staff and recruiting as he talked about the direction of the program.  He told the crowd that he met each player on the roster for 20-25 minutes individually before the spring semester ended.  The student-athletes will return to campus for the first of two summer academic sessions on May 18.

"I've been blown away by these kids since I've been here," Franklin said.  "They are an amazing group of young men."

In addition to winning football games on the field, Franklin wants to achieve new heights in all phases of the program, including highs in team GPA, graduation rates and activity in the community.

"We came to Penn State to make a positive impact in the community," Franklin said.


Stop No. 3 - Hershey (Hershey Lodge)


Tuesday night's evening event inside the Hershey Lodge was all about the fans.  Central Pennsylvania is filled with members of Nittany Nation, and the sold out crowd in Hershey gave the four head coaches a warm welcome to cap off a great first day on the road.

More than 750 Penn State fans filled the ballroom inside Hershey Lodge with great energy and enthusiasm.  The Penn State coaches all talked about how important the fan support is for the success of the sports programs in Happy Valley.

"What you guys can embrace is that we are truly a family of coaches and take the responsibility of representing you very seriously," said Washington.

caravan_hershey.jpgThe fan support, coupled with the strong relationships between the head coaches on campus, is what makes Penn State such a unique place. 

"I'm around such successful people who are at the top of their craft," Warming said.

Coach Franklin opened his evening speech by apologizing in advance that if the phone rang during the event, he was going to walk off the stage and take the call.  True to his word, Franklin stood up and walked to his right, off the stage while answering a phone call during the Q&A portion of the show.

Mid-way through the call, he turned to the crowd and led a rousing "We Are!" chant before getting back on the phone and returning to his seat on stage.

caravan_hershey_1.jpgThe overwhelming excitement from the fans in Hershey about the direction Penn State's teams are headed made it a great evening event.  The coaches are proud to represent the University, and the fans are proud to support the teams.

"I can't begin to tell you what it's been like to come back home and be your football coach," Franklin said.

The Caravan rolls south to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
    


Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 165 miles


caravan_mileage.jpg
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2014 Coaches Caravan - Pegula Ice Arena Kick-Off Event

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VIDEO: Kick-Off Event Press Conference | Photo Gallery: State College

2014 Coaches Caravan Registration

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in its three-year history, the Penn State Coaches Caravan kicked off on Thursday evening with an event on the University Park campus.

Before a crowd of more than 425 enthusiastic Penn State fans and alums, head coaches James Franklin, Bob Warming and Russ Rose headlined the opening night of the 17-stop Coaches Caravan that will take place throughout the month of May.

9976484.jpeg"It means a lot to our players to play in a town where everyone is extremely supportive of them," Franklin said of the hometown crowd.

The evening opened with an hour-long reception where Franklin, Rose, Warming and Nittany Lion basketball coach Patrick Chambers, along with football assistant coaches Bob Shoop, Brent Pry, Josh Gattis and Charles Huff, mingled with the attendees.

The program portion of the event took place on the ice inside Pegula Ice Arena, the sparkling home of Penn State Hockey.  Warming, who led the Nittany Lion men's soccer team to its second-straight Big Ten title and NCAA Tournament berth in the fall, took the microphone first.  While describing the location of his office and the elite company he is around inside Rec Hall, Warming kept things light.

"The first door you come to is Russ Rose (in my hallway)...the next door on my hallway is Cael Sanderson...the next doorway down is Erica Walsh...And then there is me," joked Warming.

Warming discussed the principles his program lives by - Recruit. Develop. Retain. Graduate.

"Its never about the coach...It's about the student-athlete," Warming said.  "It's always about helping them achieve their dreams.  It's always about helping them achieve their goals and become educated men to help our society."

When Warming sat down, Rose was introduced to a standing ovation from the State College crowd.  Fresh off leading the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team to its fifth national championship in seven years, Rose received a rousing cheer from the hometown crowd.

"We are coming off a great season.  It's incredible to be in a position to win a national championship," Rose said.

Always quick-witted, it took Rose no more than 10 seconds to have the Pegula Ice Arena crowd roaring with laughter.  A 35-year veteran as a Penn State head coach, Rose has an undying passion for the University.  Each time he speaks, Rose's feelings for Penn State are pure.  He believes in the success of the University, its student-athletes and the head coaches leading the 31 teams on campus.

"I've been here for 35 years...we've got some of the finest coaches in the country," Rose said.  "Our coaching staff across the board right now is unbelievable."

Rose's remarks transitioned into the newest member of the Penn State coaching family.  Franklin has been on the job for just shy of four months.  After signing a strong recruiting class in February, the newest leader of Penn State Football led the Nittany Lions through a productive spring practice period.  In his time at Penn State, one thing has stood out to Franklin since day one.

"The thing that makes Penn State special...it's about the people," Franklin said.  "The support we get is unreal."

Franklin is thrilled to get out on the road during May to meet Penn State fans from all corners of the state and region.  Since he took the job, Franklin has talked about how proud he is to be the head coach of the Nittany Lions.  His words were genuine in every sense on Thursday night in Pegula.

"For a lot of people, this is a job," Franklin said.  "This is personal for me.  This means the world to me.  For a guy growing up in the state of Pennsylvania to come back and be the head football coach at Penn State is unbelievably special."

Working to build an elite program on and off the field, the top items on Franklin's list for a successful Penn State football program include graduating every player, winning games and impacting the region and state in a positive way.  With a tireless approach to every facet of the day-to-day operation, Franklin and the football staff will work to make the fan base proud each and every day he is on the job, which he hopes is a long time.

"I love that the expectation here is for the head coach to be here for 80 years," Franklin joked.

The Caravan will hit the road on Tuesday to begin the first travel week.  Sold out crowds in York (lunch) and Hershey (dinner reception) will greet Franklin, Warming, Coquese Washington and Erica Walsh on Tuesday.


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