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2014 Big Ten Media Days - Day II Coverage

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Day I Coverage

CHICAGO - Head coach James Franklin and seniors Bill Belton, Sam Ficken and Mike Hull wrapped up Big Ten Media Days with roundtable interviews and the 43rd Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon at the Hilton downtown Chicago on Tuesday.

Franklin and the trio of players participated in a wide range of activities with local and national media throughout the day.  Stay tuned for continuing coverage of Penn State's trip to the 2014 Big Ten Media Days.

Roundtable Interview Session
Coach Franklin and each player occupied a table in the Continental Ballroom inside the Hilton for two hours on Tuesday morning as the media rotated through for interviews. Approximately 800 members of the local and national media were credentialed for the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. Check out some highlights from Tuesday's media sessions.


Coach Franklin Meets the Media - Day II



Player Interviews - Day II



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2014 Big Ten Media Days - Day I Coverage

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14_mediaday_blog_4.jpgCoach Franklin Transcript - July 28 | Press Conference Video | Photo Gallery


CHICAGO - Coach James Franklin and seniors Bill Belton, Sam Ficken and Mike Hull kicked off Big Ten Media Days on Monday at the Hilton downtown Chicago.

Franklin and the trio of players participated in a wide range of activities with local and national media throughout the day.  Stay tuned for continuing coverage of Penn State's trip to the 2014 Big Ten Media Days.

9 a.m. - Hackenberg Tabbed as Player to Watch
The first piece of Penn State news from Big Ten Media Days broke just before 9 a.m. on Monday when the conference announced that sophomore Christian Hackenberg was named one of 10 Big Ten Players to Watch heading into the 2014 season.

9327000.jpegHackenberg was selected the 2013 Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Year, becoming the second-straight Nittany Lion to win the award, with defensive end Deion Barnes doing so in 2012. His tremendous true freshman season was recognized nationally, as he garnered first-team True Freshman All-America accolades from 247Sports.com. He completed 231 of 392 passes for 2,955 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. Hackenberg also ran for four touchdowns and accumulated 2,887 yards of total offense, an average of 240.6 ypg.

The Virginia native broke one Penn State overall passing record and 12 school freshman passing records, including the freshman marks for game and season passing completions, attempts, yards and touchdown passes. He compiled four 300-yard passing games to tie Matt McGloin for the school single season record and tie Kerry Collins for second place on the career list, just two behind McGloin's career mark of six. Hackenberg completed 14 passes of 40 yards or longer, which was tied for the most nationally by a freshman and eighth overall, including a season-long 68-yard touchdown pass to Adam Breneman in the season finale win at No. 14 Wisconsin.

2014 Big Ten Players to Watch
EAST DIVISION
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

WEST DIVISION
Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Rob Havenstein, RT, Wisconsin

10:05 a.m. - One-on-One Interviews Kick Off Media Days
Head coach James Franklin kicked off the festivities with a one-on-one interview with the ESPN.com Big Ten reporters.

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12 p.m. - Quoting the Nittany Lions
A collection of quotes during the open media session at Big Ten Media Day:

14_mediaday_blog_5.jpgCoach Franklin on the logistics of playing in Ireland - "We think we've got a pretty good plan going into it. We're going to need to be very disciplined. We'll leave Tuesday night. Go to class on Tuesday, practice on Tuesday and leave Tuesday night, and we'll get there on Wednesday. We're going to have to force them to stay up that entire day and try to get adjusted and acclimated as quick as we possibly can, but no doubt it's a challenge."

Coach Franklin on Christian Hackenberg - "The thing that I'm most impressed is how humble and how hungry and how open he is to coaching. I think Billy O'Brien and our staff did a really good job of teaching concepts. That's kind of what we believe is you teach the game from a big picture perspective. They understand concepts. They've got a chance to put things together in their head and understand offenses. So now we come in, there's a lot of similar philosophies, but he understands concepts of football. But I've been very impressed with him."

Mike Hull on Coach Franklin - "We feed off of his energy. I wouldn't want another head coach with different energy."

Sam Ficken on the offseason - "My big thing during the offseason was consistency. I feel great coming into camp."

Bill Belton on being a complete back - "The big thing about being a complete back is doing all of the little things well and executing all phases of the game."


2 p.m. - Coach Franklin Addresses the Media
Head coach James Franklin stepped to the podium inside the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton at 2 p.m. ET for his 15-minute session with the approximately 800 credentialed media in attendance at Big Ten Kickoff.

"Really appreciate the opportunity to be here," said Franklin. "I want to thank the Big Ten. I want to thank Commissioner Delany. Great experience for our players. They're really, really excited. Got a chance to spend some time in Chicago, and now having this experience has been wonderful. So I want to thank everybody for that."

The first-year leader of the Nittany Lions is pleased with the progress Penn State made during spring practice. Franklin said the spring was spent laying the foundation for what the program is trying to accomplish with mentality and culture and offensive, defensive and special teams philosophies. Franklin said the team embraced the opportunity to learn, and he is excited for practice to begin on Aug. 4.

"This spring we weren't able to really play at the type of speed that we want to play at because guys were thinking, and I think since then, over the summer, we've been able to really kind of gain some confidence, and guys are looking forward to it," said Franklin.


2:30 p.m. - Open Media Session
Franklin and the trio of players moved into a podium media session for 30 minutes at 2:30 p.m. The trio of players and Franklin found a spare minute to snap a selfie to document the open session.

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VIDEO: Coach Franklin on Day One of Big Ten Media Days



VIDEO: Player Sound Bites on Day One of Big Ten Media Days




6 p.m. - Day One Roundup
The Nittany Lion contingent wrapped up a day full of interviews with TV affiliates, radio stations, online reporters and print reporters in the late afternoon hours in Chicago.  Day two of Big Ten Media Days will feature two hours of open media on Thursday morning.  Coach Franklin and former Nittany Lion great Anthony Adams will then participate in a Big Ten autograph session with the fans.  From there, the 43rd Annual Big Ten Kickoff will take place in the International Ballroom of the Hilton.  Stay tuned for more coverage from Tuesday's events.




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Follow GoPSUsports.com at 2014 Big Ten Media Days in Chicago

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The unofficial kickoff to the 2014 Big Ten football has arrived.  The 43rd Annual Big Ten Kickoff will take place in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday.

GoPSUsports.com will be on site to cover all of the action.  Head coach James Franklin, senior running back Bill Belton, senior kicker Sam Ficken and senior linebacker Mike Hull will represent Penn State in Chicago.

The two-day event will be filled with interviews and press conferences with a wide variety of national media outlets.  The BTN and ESPNU will have extensive coverage on TV. 
BTN will present more than five hours of live coverage of Big Ten football media days on Monday, airing the press conferences for all 14 coaches, BTN President Mark Silverman, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and College Football Playoff Chief Operating Officer Michael Kelly.  Coverage begins at 10:30 a.m. ET live on BTN. The press conferences and remarks will re-air at 7 p.m. on Monday.

Coverage by ESPNU will begin at 1 p.m. ET on Monday with coverage of the press conferences and media day festivities.


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

Listed below is a schedule with key events from the Big Ten Kickoff in Chicago.

Monday, July 28

- All 14 coaches, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, BTN President Mark Silverman and College Football Playoff COO Michael Kelly will address the media in press conferences.

- 2:00 p.m.-2:15 p.m. ET - James Franklin Press Conference


Tuesday, July 29

- All 14 coaches and three players from each team will be open to reporters for interviewing from 9-11 a.m. ET.
- ESPN's Rece Davis will emcee the 43rd Annual Big Ten Kickoff luncheon at 12:30 p.m. ET.

All of the events will take place at the Hilton Chicago.  We look forward to taking you with us to Chicago for complete Penn State coverage from Big Ten Media Days.



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Barbour Eager to Lead Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.

Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of play.

"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State," Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State."

A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.

Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.

"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It stands for family," Barbour said.

Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who are elite performers in the classroom.

"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be."

Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.

"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said. "As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening."

Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.

"There is a culture, history and tradition of tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president, athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."


"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular, will be positively impacted by her leadership."

"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start working with her."


Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics is fired up to get started.

"We are Penn State. I'm all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.

 


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Pre-season Football Depth Chart Released

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Pre-season Depth Chart - July 24


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin released the Nittany Lions' depth chart heading into the start of pre-season camp, which begins on Aug. 4.

Heading into camp, each player begins the season with a clean slate as the team competes for starting positions. Therefore, the first depth chart of the fall season features assignments ranked by seniority. The depth chart includes 11 players with senior eligibility (seven fifth-year seniors), including three on offense, seven on defense and one specialist.

On offense, the tandem of Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak lead the list of 11 Nittany Lion running backs. Belton and Zwinak head into their senior campaigns after combining for 1,792 rushing yards in 2013. Fellow senior Miles Dieffenbach is the most experienced player on the offensive side of the ball with 23 career starts.

On defense, the list of seniors includes the team's most experienced player in safety Adrian Amos. The senior has started 25 career games as a Nittany Lion. Fellow seniors Ryan Keiser and Jesse Della Valle will join Amos in an experienced secondary.

Veteran linebacker Mike Hull will lead the linebacking corps into camp. Hull is the team's top returning tackler from 2013 (78 stops). Brad Bars (DE), C.J. Olaniyan (DE) and Tyrone Smith (DT) make up the senior trio on the defensive line.

Placekicker Sam Ficken is the lone senior specialist on the roster. Ficken broke Craig Fayak's school record of 13-straight made field goals with 15-straight successful kicks stretching from the end of 2012 into 2013.

The depth chart features six tight ends, which includes the standout trio of returnees - junior Jesse James (Y), junior Kyle Carter (F) and sophomore Adam Breneman (Y).  Sophomore Brent Wilkerson (F) is back to full strength after missing 2013 due to injury. Sophomore Tom Pancoast (Y) joins the tight end group, in addition to true freshman Mike Gesicki (F).

Young talent stands out on the pre-season depth chart. The initial depth chart includes 33 players with true freshman eligibility (19 on offense, 11 on defense and three specialists). In total, there are 57 players with either true freshman or redshirt freshman eligibility. The depth chart includes 85 players with sophomore or freshman eligibility and 33 players with junior or senior eligibility.

The Lions return 40 letterwinners and 15 starters (seven on offense, seven on defense, one specialist) from 2013.

The 2014 schedule features a trio of 2013 Top 10 teams. The Nittany Lions will host Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State (Nov. 29), Ohio State (Oct. 25, 8 p.m.), Northwestern (Sept. 27-Homecoming, 12 p.m.) and Maryland (Nov. 1) during its 2014 Big Ten home schedule. Penn State will host Akron (Sept. 6, 12 p.m.), UMass (Sept. 20) and Temple (Nov. 15) during its non-conference slate.

Penn State kicks off the 2014 season at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 30 (ESPN2) at the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland, against UCF.



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Nittany Lions Deliver Positive Attitude at Hershey Children's Hospital

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Photo Gallery - Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital Visit


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Core value No. 1 for Penn State Football is ensuring that every member of the program has a positive attitude at all times.

When the entire team boarded three buses on Wednesday afternoon, head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions set out on a mission to make a visit to Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital one filled with positivity and enthusiasm.

The team arrived at the hospital to a rousing cheer from medical center staff members, patients and their families. The Nittany Lions and staff split up into groups for guided tours to visit with patients and their families in different sections of the hospital.

"We are really excited about being here," Franklin said. "Penn State has an unbelievable tradition of giving back, obviously with THON, but we love that our new freshmen were able to do something like this as soon as they got on campus...This turned out really well. We are excited about it. I know our players are excited about it, just watching them interact with the children who are here overcoming some incredible obstacles."

Several groups of players visited with non-ambulatory patients in their rooms in the Hematology/Oncology, Pediatric Intermediate Care and Medical/Surgical units. Other groups spent time engaging with ambulatory patients in the Tree House Cafe where they signed autographs and played games.

"This was just a great opportunity for us to come here and make an impact on the community," sophomore Adam Breneman said. "With training camp coming up and the pressure that will be on the team, it's really neat to come here and see the kids and see what they are going through, it puts things in perspective for us. You realize that we have good health and we are very fortunate for that."

Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital is a 263,000-square-foot, five-story facility. The nearly $207 million facility was built adjacent to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center's main entrance.

"There is nothing more important than taking the time to share a smile with somebody and making a positive impact on their life," Franklin said. "Coming here and having this type of visit, it puts things in perspective for you."

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Offense Tops Defense in Fight Against Kidney Cancer at 2014 Lift For Life

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VIDEO: Lift for Life Player Interviews | Photo Gallery: 2014 Lift for Life

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Saturday's 12th annual Lift For Life was a resounding success with the offense topping the defense by a score of 30-24 in a six-event, head-to-head strength and conditioning competition to benefit the Kidney Cancer Association through Penn State's chapter of Uplifting Athletes.

For the fourth-straight year, the funds raised at Lift For Life were on pace to reach record heights. With donation figures still to be finalized, the 2014 Uplifting Athletes fundraising efforts have the 12-year total nearing the $1 million mark.
Fans can still make a Lift For Life donation by visiting the Penn State Uplifting Athletes donation page HERE.

Sunny skies and a crowd of approximately 2,500 fans greeted the Nittany Lions at the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Saturday. The upperclassmen participated in the head-to-head competition pitting the offense against the defense. Simultaneously, the true freshmen ran in a mini Lift for Life kids clinic with more than 100 participants on the turf at the lacrosse field.

Lift_blog_3.jpgThe Nittany Lions put on a show for the fans in attendance with an exhibition in six strenuous events. The competition featured five rotations of one-on-one battles in the "dominator" shuttle run, deadlift, sled push, tire flip, tug run (water-filled plastic tug device) and 225-pound max bench press.

The final tally (30-24, Offense) was based on head-to-head victories in each individual rep. Some of the notable performances of the day on the bench press included senior linebacker Mike Hull's 30-rep effort at 225 pounds. Sophomore Brian Gaia and junior Tarow Barney each finished with 29 reps on the bench.

Tight end Jesse James turned in a pair of outstanding performances on Saturday, including 27 reps of 225 pounds on the bench and 12 reps at 500 pounds on the deadlift.

"Our tight end crew could be a special group," Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt said. "Jesse is a freak (athlete). He's putting up national elite numbers.

When the six-event rotation wrapped up, the Nittany Lions moved the center of the field for the tug of war finale. The offense claimed the first tug of war battle, but the defense notched three-straight victories to grab the upper hand in the final battle of strength.

Despite the 3-1 edge in tug of war, the offense will take some friendly bragging rights into the rest of the summer as the overall winners at the 2014 Lift for Life.

Life_blog_1.jpg Following the workout, the Nittany Lions met with the loyal Nittany Lion fans and signed autographs.

"It's really fun to be able to work out in front of the fans to show them all of the hard work he have been putting in for the last eight or nine weeks," tight end Brent Wilkerson said. "They support us so much, so it's fun to be able to show them all of the progress we have made since they last saw us."

Galt and his staff had a blast at their first Lift for Life event. He applauded the player-run Uplifting Athletes organization for its countless hours of prep work to put on another successful event.

"This was a great event to be a part of," Galt said. "We thoroughly enjoyed it, and we are thrilled to have been able to work out in front of the fans.

The 12th Lift For Life was again a tremendous success and fundraiser for kidney cancer, largely thanks to countless hours of preparation from the Uplifting Athletes group led by junior Ben Kline.

Penn State begins preseason practice on Aug. 4.


Much more to follow, including video highlights from the 12th Annual Lift For Life


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VIDEO: Lift for Life Player Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several Nittany Lions talk with the media at the 2014 Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life on Saturday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

Breaking Down the 2014 Lift for Life

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the past 11 years, Uplifting Athletes, a Penn State Football player-run group, has worked together to lead the fight against kidney cancer.

To date, the group has raised more than $825,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association since the first Lift For Life in 2003. A staple on the summer calendar, Uplifting Athletes hosts Lift For Life, a grueling test of physical and mental strength, to benefit of kidney cancer. This year, Uplifting Athletes has its eye set on eclipsing the $1 million plateau.

Founded by Penn State Football teammates Scott Shirley, Dave Costlow and Damone Jones in 2003, Uplifting Athletes is currently led by linebacker Ben Kline.

This year's event will take place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field (located next to the Multisport Building). Uplifting Athletes placed an emphasis on fan interaction for 2014. Penn State fans will have an opportunity to meet the Nittany Lions on the field from 1-2 p.m. during a meet and greet autograph session. Additionally, members of the football team will host a kids clinic on the field as the Lift for Life event takes place.

"We love our fans, and it's important to us to give them as good of an experience at Lift for Life as possible," Kline said. "They have done a great job helping us raise nearly a $1 million during the last 12 years for kidney cancer. We couldn't have done it without them. This should be a day to show appreciation for the fans while we fight against kidney cancer. We are really excited about it."

In the heart of the summer workout season, the team enjoys the opportunity to participate at Lift for Life in front of the Penn State fans. It is the only workout all year where the team competes in front of its loyal supporters. Saturday's workout, led by Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt and his staff, will consist of six stations before a tug of war at the center of the field.

The list of events includes:
- 225-pound Bench Max Out
- Dead Lift
- Tire Flip
- Sled Push
- Shuttle
- Tug Run (Plastic tug device filled with water)

To donate to Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life, click the link listed below:

Donation Link



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VIDEO: Previewing the 2014 Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Uplifting Athletes officers are in the final stages of preparation for the 12th Annual "Lift for Life".

This year's event takes place on Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field. Entirely player-run, the 2014 Lift for Life will feature more fan interaction than in previous years. In addition to a six-event workout, kids will be able to take part in a Lift for Life clinic on the turf with Nittany Lion players during the event. Additionally, fans will be able to participate in a meet and greet with the team from 1-2 p.m. after the workout is complete.

Go PSUsports.com caught up with Penn State Uplifting Athletes president Ben Kline for an update on the preparations and excitement around the 2014 Lift for Life.




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