UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 2 Penn State powered past No. 19 Michigan, capturing a 42-13 win against the Wolverines inside Beaver Stadium Saturday in front of its largest crowd in program history. Check in with Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin postgame.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a Thursday afternoon in Happy Valley, Penn State's iconic Old Main lawn is anything but low key, bustling with construction as ESPN's College GameDay prepares to go live ahead of Saturday's primetime matchup a little more than a mile across campus inside Beaver Stadium.
Beyond the seemingly perfectly coordinated crew busy bringing the set to life, following the twists and turns of 1,000 feet of tightly bound fiber-optic cables all the way back behind Old Main though, is where the magic of College GameDay really happens.
Tucked inside the production office is Judi Weiss, College GameDay's senior operations producer and also, a Nittany Lion alumna.
While the Emmy award-winner's name might not be instantly synonymous to the average College GameDay fan, Weiss' responsibilities include just about everything related to pulling off the perfect show. From location to set up and breakdown, the behind-the-scenes College GameDay operation is like a highly organized logistical feat and Weiss is always up for the challenge.
Weiss' path to ESPN's College GameDay started at Penn State in 1987, when she transferred to University Park and later graduated in 1989 before returning to pursue a master's degree in film. With an interest in documentary filmmaking, Weiss wasn't interested in the go-to "Penn State parking problem" angle that most film, broadcast and journalism students opted to pursue. Also taking Russian studies, Weiss decided to spend a summer abroad in Volgograd, Russia at the Pedagogical Institute.
"I went there with four other Penn State students and it was a program that accepted you on all levels," Weiss said. "You didn't have to be advanced Russian because to go to Moscow or St. Petersburg, you already to be in advanced Russian and I was like, I don't time for this. I want to go fast I want to learn and I'm going to bring my eight millimeter video camera and get footage."
Intending on shaping a project around Russian musicians and the day-to-day lives of women living in Russia. Already dealing with some culture shock, things got even more interesting to Weiss upon arrival.
"We got to Volgograd and we found out the Pedagogical Institute in summertime is pretty much defunct," Weiss said. "So they gave us private teachers from the university to tutor us in Russian."
It was one of those tutors, a Ph.D graduate student from South America, who happened to be a musician who invited the group to band's studio.
"We went to the studio and the man sitting at the console working on, you know recording some musicians at the time, some Russian musicians, which is the music part, wound up becoming my husband," Weiss said.
Weiss never returned to Penn State to finish out her master's degree, having partnered with friends to start the first private radio station in Volgograd, Russia bolstered by some internship experience she picked up in her freshman year.
Drawing on contacts from her brother, an ABC Sports staffer, Weiss had done work as a runner in the past, but it soon took off. From the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Weiss moved to Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting later moving up to ABC Sports, where she spent several years on college football and figure skating as a production manager. All because of her simple choice to opt out of the Penn State parking problem of course.
Among nine Olympic Games, Weiss is the only person to own a tie-Emmy. In her third season on College GameDay, Weiss was also freelancing for Turner Sports' pregame basketball studio show, which earned a submission for its playoff coverage. In 2013, College GameDay took home the Emmy for best weekly studio show alongside the NBA studio show.
"It's a tie for weekly studio show and it was us, and the NBA studio show, so I have a certificate from them and a statue from College GameDay in the same category in the same year," Weiss said.
After years of traveling across the world with figure skating, with the Olympics also sprinkled in, it was her boss at the time who came to her and asked if she would consider College GameDay.
"At that time GameDay was a big show, but it wasn't the way it is now and nobody wanted to work on it," Weiss said.
With an unpredictable location as the weekly norm, Weiss' boss asked her for two years, but four shows in, Weiss was sold. It's been seven years on College GameDay and she hasn't looked back.
"I fell in love with the show," Weiss said. "It's extremely challenging. It's fresh. It's just exciting to be a part of this project."
It takes six semi-trucks to haul ESPN's College GameDay setup to its weekly location, and that's not counting the bus or the other sponsor box trucks that go along too.
Once finding out the location, it's Weiss who reaches out to the schools to begin the conversation before a site survey. Penn State's bye week allowed some extra time for surveying, allowing for just the right location - this time not Beaver Stadium.
"We want to capture an iconic set location," Weiss said. "What the campus locations allow us to do, is give our audience a sense of place. The idea that we are at Penn State, this is Old Main. It's that sense of place and sometimes with the stadiums, it's not always obvious what stadium you're in front of."
With everything in place, Weiss deployed the trucks to Happy Valley, where the crew arrived late Wednesday, typically needing around four to five hours to begin early construction. Thursday brings another full day of building, which wraps up in the early evening.
"Usually about six or seven at night on Thursday everybody is gone and clear of the set, clear of the truck, ready to go for TV at 8:30 in the morning on Friday," Weiss said.
On the ground, Weiss is driving everything from on-site policy to overall procedure, brining all the pieces together to ensure that nothing skips a beat.
"I kind of connect a lot of the dots during the week, so I'll get legal talking to the legal at school, I'll get I.T. talking to our I.T. department and I just connect a lot of the dots for everybody," Weiss said. "That's how it works is just making sure you get the right people talking to the right people and delegating."
Facing the challenge of a massive cable run to encompass all of Old Main in the perfect College GameDay shot, Weiss worked alongside all involved parties to execute a major undertaking.
Looking past the bright Home Depot orange, the faintest sight of cables looped through street lamps along the sidewalks and tethered to trees can be seen in the distance.
Regardless of what happens when the lights pop on and the show airs live at 9 a.m. ET Saturday morning, it's her experience at Penn State, that Weiss credits to her success.
"I really do credit my experiences here, my education here, but the study abroad, learning a second language, that was key," Weiss said.
Making an impact on her career, it's now mission critical for Weiss to continue making an impact on students following in similar paths. Hosting tours for students and challenging her staff to take an all-in approach at all times, it's hard not to be inspired by her motivating work ethic.
"It's really important to me to get the next generation, trained, engaged, excited and educated on working in this business," Weiss said.
RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central I Game Notes I Depth Chart I Tuesday Presser Roundup I Wednesday Practice Report I R. Rahne Q&A I Monday Notebook I Nittany Lions in the NFL - Week 6 I Gameday Promos and Reminders
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Back from a restful bye week, No. 2 Penn State football (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) returns to Beaver Stadium, set to host No. 19 Michigan (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) in a Penn State White Out Saturday.
The Nittany Lions and the Wolverines will meet in a primetime matchup set for 7:30 p.m. on ABC with Chris Fowler (pxp), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst) and Maria Taylor (sideline) on the call.
Earlier this week, head coach James Franklin called Saturday's matchup a real challenge for the Nittany Lions, as the two storied programs prepare to collide with a variety of intriguing storylines coming to life under the lights.
At the midpoint in the year, Penn State storylines have continued to take shape, including an explosive offense, an efficient special teams unit and a powerful defense highlighted by a secondary loaded with ball hawks who have proven key in pivotal moments.
Outscoring opponents 76-0 in the first quarter, Penn State's defense is limiting opponents to a national-best 9.0 points per game. In the big plays category, Penn State ranks within the top 25 nationally and second in the Big Ten with 38 plays of 20 or more yards.
Turning toward Michigan, the Wolverines head to Happy Valley for their second weekend on the road, coming off a 27-20 OT win at Indiana last week. Ranked within the top 10 of nine defensive categories in the NCAA standings, Michigan's defense is tops in FBS in total defense (223.8 avg.), third down defense (20.5 pct.) and passing efficiency defense (88.85). At the midpoint in the year, the Wolverines have also limited five of six opponents to a season-low points total an all six to a season-low in yardage.
Regardless of what the statistics say though, Franklin and the staff have stressed focus above all things this week, with University Park buzzing ahead of the Penn State White Out, the Nittany Lions' highest AP poll ranking in nearly 20 years and ESPN's College Gameday [MORE: College Gameday Info] taking over the Old Main lawn.
"My message for the team this week is, they've earned these things," Franklin said. "These things are nice. The rankings are nice. The fact that ESPN and College GameDay is coming is nice. The fact that this is a white-out is nice. At the end of the day none of those things matter. It's about our preparation."
What To Watch For -
1. Franklin noted that Saturday's matchup will bring some interesting chess matches between coordinators, also putting on display, as he says, two of the best defensive coordinators in college football. Having coached together at a previous stop, Franklin was quick to note Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown's success.
"Don's big thing, it shows up on tape, they're going to solve their problems with aggression. That's something I remember years ago Don talking about. It still shows up on tape. His answer for the game of football is to be aggressive, be aggressive in the way he calls the game, be aggressive in how their players play. They're a big wreck-the-decision-maker, try to get to the quarterback as much as they possibly can and either sack him or make him uncomfortable in the pocket, and don't give any yards away, no free-access throws."
2. Penn State is tops in the Big Ten and second in FBS in turnover margin at plus-12. With 17 takeaways in the in the first six games marking the most for the Nittany Lions in a six-game span since 1993, the mark is also tied for third in FBS. With the Nittany Lion secondary contributing a Big Ten leading nine interceptions, it's more than just the secondary that has helped Penn State make take such a significant step forward.
"I don't think it's just our secondary," Franklin said. "I think it's our D-line. I think it's the linebackers. "Christian is a senior and has been playing since his freshman year. Grant is a senior, has been playing since his freshman year. Amani, his role just continues to grow every season. I think those guys have had a dramatic impact. But, again, to play really good defense, all three phases, D-line, linebackers, secondary, all got to be coordinated and working together."
3. Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki enters Saturday's matchup looking to eclipse a career milestone. Coming off of the road trip win at Northwestern, Gesicki is just 249 yards shy of the a nearly 50-year old career receiving yards record for a Penn State tight end. He also needs just one touchdown reception to match the career touchdown catches record, also tying his own record for single season touchdown grabs.
What to Watch For -
1. Franklin identified Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst as both explosive and disruptive for the Wolverines.
"I think Hurst is really fun to watch on tape," Franklin said. "He's a really good player. He's explosive. He is quick. His get-off is what really jumps out. You watch the ball snapped, he's the first one across the line of scrimmage. They move their defensive line a lot. He uses his hands well."
Hurst is second on the team with 7.0 tackles for loss with defensive end Chase Winovich leading the team with 8.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. On the year, Michigan's defensive line has accounted for nearly 50 percent of its 20 sacks. The Wolverines are sixth in FBS and tops in the Big Ten averaging 3.33 sacks per game.
2. From his early film study Penn State wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins mentioned Michigan's trust in the secondary, noting that winning the contested matchups will be key.
"Basically we've just seen guys who are very sound in their technique with footwork and attention to detail," Thompkins said. "These guys are very comfortable with being one-one-one on the outside and that's something that they do pretty much every game, so that's something that's not different for them. They kind of live in that environment, and they thrive in that environment."
3. Michigan running back Karan Higdon enters Saturday coming off of a career-high 200-yard performance with three touchdowns against the Hoosiers. With starts in three consecutive games, Higdon has totaled 401 yards at the midpoint of the season.
The Final Word -
Nearly every Nittany Lion asked about the Penn State White Out this week explained the electric atmosphere as something you'd have to experience to be able to describe. Penn State and Michigan have met for a Penn State White Out four times since 2004. Under the lights though, the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines' last primetime meeting came Oct. 12, 2013 when Penn State battled to a 43-40 win in four overtimes.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State tight ends coach and pass game coordinator Ricky Rahne joined the assistant coaches weekly teleconference Thursday afternoon.
Talking everything from life in the booth to Michigan, check in with a few highlights from the Q&A session.
Week Six Surprises?
At the midpoint in the season, Rahne was asked if there's anything specific the Nittany Lions might have learned when it comes to how opponents are attacking the offense. Having spent more time than usual on self-scouting due to last week's bye, there weren't many surprises for Rahne and the staff.
don't know if there was anything that we've learned necessarily," Rahne said. "I
think it was more of a confirmation process than anything else. As we look at
things we've said to ourselves, 'okay this is how we think teams are attacking
us' and we were really able to confirm most of those thoughts. There might have
been a thing here or there that maybe we overestimated how it was happening. In
general, I would say that most of the ways we thought teams were attacking us,
those were pretty accurate."
When asked about the blocking performances Rahne has seen from his tight ends this year, he noted that he's generally happy to date.
"As a general rule, I think we've been blocking pretty well," Rahne said. "I'd obviously like to see us get a little more movement at the point of attack, but I think that's something, as an offensive coach you're searching for until the end of time. I don't think you're ever going to be satisfied with that."
There's no doubting that the matchup between Penn State's explosive offensive and Michigan's physical defense is intriguing.
"They play on defense very similar to how we play on offense, Rahne said. "It's a great matchup."
For Rahne, maximizing practice preparations means making concepts as efficient as possible to put the Nittany Lions in the best possible situation for success come Saturday.
"You try to give the guys as many of the looks as you can, while trying to simplify it as much as humanly possible and give them concepts as opposed to trying to have them remember every defense against every play," Rahne said.
Life in the Booth
From up in the booth, Rahne noted that his vantage point from up top can give a little better view of the field as compared to coaches on the sidelines. From either angle, part of what Rahne finds as the most enjoyable part about working with the rest of the offensive staff though, is how well everyone communicates.
"I'm able to talk to coach Gattis, he's able to talk to me," Rahne said. "I'm able to talk to Coach Limegrover, Coach Huff and then Coach Moorhead. We're all able to make suggestions, no one is looking to assign blame, we're all looking to move the ball down the field to help us score points and help us win. Obviously being up top I can have a little better view on that sometimes."
Learning from Moorhead
Rahne called Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead the best offensive coordinator in the country. More than his ability to call up the perfect play at precisely the right time, it's his unique ability to inspire belief that Rahne noted.
"I just think the world of Joe and what he brings to the table," Rahne said. "The one thing underestimated, is his ability to get the players to play hard for him and believe in him and our system. Obviously he calls a lot of great plays. I think we as a staff do a great job of designing plays, making adjustments. None of that matters if the kids don't believe. He does a great job of motivating our team and I've learned that from him."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and defensive linemen Shareef Miller met with members of the media following practice Wednesday evening during Michigan week.
Check in for a few highlights from the pair of media sessions.
Franklin noted that at this point in the week, he's pleased with the progress the Nittany Lions have made from Sunday through Wednesday.
"I felt really good about yesterday's energy and execution," Franklin said. "We've got some new things in so it wasn't as clean as you'd like it to be but that's typical on a Tuesday. I thought today, just being out here, not watching the film, I was really pleased with how we practiced."
Bye Week Bonus
Last week's bye meant more time for Miller and the rest of the Nittany Lions to prepare for this week's Michigan assignment. With extra time to get a handle on film, Miller also got the opportunity to head home for the weekend before getting back to the grind Sunday.
"It helps a lot to be honest with you, you can get more film in," Miller said. "A lot of us were watching film constantly so now this week, most of us kind of know what they are going to do Saturday. Having a bye week really gave us a good jump on it."
Looking at Michigan
Describing the Michigan offense, Franklin went with Stanford-esk, Michigan State or a traditional Big Ten style of offense to describe the Wolverines.
"They're one of those styles offenses where they're going to be multiple formation, multiple personnel groups, multiple shift and formation," Franklin said. They're going to run power, run lead, run counter."
Miller's First Penn
State White Out
For Miller, his first Penn State White Out experience came in 2014, when the Nittany Lions narrowly fell short in a double overtime lossto No. 13 Ohio State. Among the rest of his visits, nothing came close to Penn State though, which prevailed by a longshot.
"That's what really sold me to come to Penn State, just the white out atmosphere," Miller said.
Now on the field suited up in the Blue and White, it's an exciting experience that's difficult to explain.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football is back from the bye week, as Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin met with members of the media in his weekly Tuesday press conference. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye and center Connor McGovern also joined Franklin for a pair of media sessions.
For Franklin, if there's one thing he's more excited for thank Christmas, it's the Penn State White Out game, as the second-ranked Nittany Lions turn their focus toward No. 19/15 Michigan.
"We're excited. Obviously it's going to be a great environment," Franklin said. "I'm jacked up like I am every year because the environment is special. I think Beaver Stadium on a normal game day is a top-five atmosphere. I think a white-out game day is something I think you don't really understand unless you can come experience it for yourself."
For Oruwariye and McGovern, both echo the notion of a truly unique experience.
"It's unreal. To have all those fans behind you, screaming and cheering the whole time for you, it's unlike any atmosphere in the world," Oruwariye said. "We have to stay focused on the task at hand and there's going to be a lot of outside stuff going on and we're really just exited to get it to 1-0 with a win."
Among the Penn State White Out excitement and the added anticipation from the addition of ESPN's College Game Day, Franklin noted that keeping the focus on this week's assignment is the top priority.
"It's going to be special," Franklin said. "Then my message for the team this week is, they've earned these things. These things are nice. The rankings are nice. The fact that ESPN and College Game Day is coming is nice. The fact that this is a white-out is nice. At the end of the day none of those things matter. It's about our preparation. A lot of times, I think the most important job of a head coach, in my opinion, is to eliminate distractions. If not handled right, that's what these can be. We're going to stick to our routine and our SOP, kind of go from there."
Franklin's message is nothing new for the Nittany Lions, who know just how to maintain focus amidst distractions.
"The coaching staff does a great job of just keeping us focused on the week, preparing hard, focusing on practice and getting ready for the game," McGovern said.
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on limiting negative yardage plays
"If we just eliminate those, the plays that we get tackled behind of line of scrimmage and things like that, whether that's a block getting beat, whether them doing a great job of disguising what they're doing, that will really help us. The sacks, the negative yardage plays, if we can just reduce them a little bit, I think that will help us, will keep us on schedule from a first down perspective, and it will extend drives."
"I don't know, I just would say it's just the loudest thing you'll hear. It's the -- it's just all you hear is just screaming, crazy, fanatic, like crazy fans, and just, like, the whole town is just lit up in white because everyone is wearing white. I don't know, it's just -- you have to experience it most of the time to get a feel."
-Franklin on Nittany Shareef Miller
"You're talking about a skinny kid from Philadelphia, shows up here and takes advantage of training table, takes advantage of the weight room, gets bigger and stronger. He takes advantage of all the academic support, the unbelievable professors we have on campus, is doing extremely well in that area. Is well liked and respected by his teammates and coaches."
- McGovern on his adjustments since moving to center
"I feel very comfortable with the transition now, being more of a leader, being more vocal, and up front we just have to be more physical, blow them off the ball, and sustain our blocks."
- Franklin on the best part of the bye week
"I think it's probably allowing the players to just get some time off, either just to relax and be normal college students, normal 19-year-olds, the opportunity to go home and see their families. That's probably the best thing."
- Oruwariye on where improvements can still be made among the DBs
"As a group, like I said, we want to take the ball away as much as we can. We want to challenge receivers all the time. We're going to be put on an island sometimes so we can stop the run game, but we embrace that. We worked on it all off-season. But we just want to play to the best of our ability, like I said, and just try to make takeaways."
- Franklin on the Penn State White Out game
"I think people realize the only thing I like more than Christmas is a white-out football game. I'm jacked up like I am every year because the environment is special. I think Beaver Stadium on a normal game day is a top-five atmosphere. I think a white-out game day is something I think you don't really understand unless you can come experience it for yourself."
- McGovern on his first Penn State White Out experience
"Back in high school, that was my first-ever game here, the [Penn State] White Out, and I'd say everyone - if you're a college football fan, you have to experience at least one [Penn State] White Out in your life. They're a lot of fun, a lot of fun to play in, especially under the lights at night. It's a lot of fun."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Back from a bye week, Penn State football is set to return to Beaver Stadium as Nittany Lions host Michigan in the annual Penn State White Out game Saturday.
Having ascended to No. 2 in both the AP Poll and Amway Coaches Poll, second-ranked Penn State will open a challenging middle-third portion of the conference slate. The Nittany Lions are focused on nothing more than this week's assignment though, as No. 19/15 Michigan makes its first trip to Happy Valley since 2015.
Earlier this afternoon, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley earned a spot on the Sporting News Midseason All-Americans list. Averaging 217.0 all-purpose yards, Barkley is ranked atop the Big Ten and FBS standings in the category, having put together a standout first half of the regular season.
When asked about containing Barkley, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh named containing him critically important in his Monday afternoon press conference.
"It will be a team effort defensively to go against a great player and a really outstanding offense - a really good quarterback, good receivers, a line and backs that are hitting on all cylinders," Harbaugh said.
Ranked third in the Big Ten in rushing yards, eighth in receiving yards and first in kickoff returns with an average 32.3 yards per return, Barkley has brought fans to their feet and stunned opposing sidelines along the way this year.
"He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can run all the assortment of runs inside the tackles, on the edge - a very good pass protector," Harbaugh said. "He's a multi-purpose back who can do everything well."
Defense vs. Defense
Penn State's defense has been equally as impressive this year, entering the week allowing fewer than 10 points per game (9.0), good for first in the FBS standings. On the flip side, Michigan's defense is surrendering just 223.8 yards of total defense, which is also atop the FBS standings. Regardless of the numbers, Harbaugh noted that Michigan was still looking at options when it comes to attacking the Nittany Lion defense.
"Very good defense," Harbaugh said. "I don't see a lot of big plays right now. I don't see them giving up a lot of plays in the running game or the passing game, which means they are really sound. You can already see really good players in the front seven and in the secondary. They get to the ball, close up gaps and they're rarely out of position."
Helped out by two shutouts, Penn State's defense has not surrendered a single point in the opening quarter, as the only FBS team to hold opponents scoreless in the first quarter to date.
Get the Signs Ready
Penn State announced Saturday that ESPN's College Gameday will takeover Happy Valley, marking the 16th time Penn State has hosted the pregame college football program. ESPN's College Gameday broadcasted live from the 2016 Big Ten Championship Game, but returns to Penn State as its site for the first time since 2009.
In White Out Conditions
Saturday marks the 10th stadium wide Penn State White Out game in program history. The Nittany Lions have hosted a Penn State White Out that's either spanned the entire stadium or just the student section in each of the last 12 seasons.
Penn State White Out History
Oct. 9, 2004 vs. Purdue (student section)
Oct. 8, 2005 vs. Ohio State (student section)
Oct. 14, 2006 vs. Michigan (student section)
Sept. 8, 2007 vs. Notre Dame (full stadium)
Sept. 27, 2008 vs. Illinois (full stadium)
Sept. 26, 2009 vs. Iowa (full stadium)
Oct. 30, 2010 vs. Michigan (student section)
Sept. 10, 2011 vs. Alabama (full stadium)
Oct. 27, 2012 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
Oct. 12, 2013 vs. Michigan (full stadium)
Oct. 25, 2014 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
Nov. 21, 2015 vs. Michigan (full stadium)
Oct. 21, 2016 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
The Nittany Lions and the Wolverines have met for a total of four Penn State White Out games, most recently in 2015, which followed a thrilling four-overtime win against Michigan in 2013.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with media members following practice during the bye week Wednesday evening.
Now further into the
bye week, Wednesday's practice featured the non-travel squad, wrapping up with
a scrimmage. Catch up on a few highlights from the post-practice media session.
Bye Week Objectives
Franklin noted the bye week gives ample time for the Nittany Lions to ease off the wear and tear of a regularly scheduled practice, incorporating younger members on the team, while still maintaining a level of productivity.
"Each practice we had a bunch of stuff with the young guys, probably at least three 12-play scrimmages per practice with those guys," Franklin said.
He also noted that tomorrow's practice will be solely run by Penn State's graduate assistants, with the GA's given the opportunity to take total control.
"Tomorrow, we'll have a GA run practice, which is great for them from a development standpoint because they get to run their own meetings," Franklin said. "They get to come out and run their own practice. It will be just the GA's and the non-travel squad."
Emerging Nittany Lions
With mostly the scout team on display this week, Franklin named a few Nittany Lions who have stepped forward.
One of those Nittany Lions is true freshman running back Journey Brown. Prior to arriving at Penn State, the Meadville, Pennsylvania native capped off his high school career winning a state championship in the 100-meter outdoor event, setting a state record with a time of 10.43 seconds.
"Obviously we knew he could run, but being able to run fast on a track and being able to do it at this level, he has really showed something the last couple of weeks," Franklin said. "He has the ability to break tackles, which we didn't know, because in high school he was just faster than everybody."
Franklin also made mention of true freshman offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe, someone who he believes has a chance to develop into one of the more physical, intimidating blockers in the Big Ten.
On The Recruiting Trail
While the team might be free to enjoy the weekend or a few days off from practice, Franklin noted that he and the staff will hit the recruiting trail this week. Franklin will head off to Texas immediately, with the rest of the coaching staff spread out in different areas of the country from Wednesday on through Saturday.
"For us, it's not like the old days where you go recruit Maryland and you just hit every school in Maryland," Franklin said. "You're going to see specific prospects all over the country and it's pretty demanding. We'll get our time off after signing day."
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