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Monday Notebook: Iowa Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fourth-ranked Penn State Football has turned its complete attention toward the upcoming Big Ten opener. Following a 56-0 shutout against Georgia State, the Nittany Lions are set on Iowa.

Saturday marks Penn State's ninth trip to Iowa City in program history and the first since 2012, when the Nittany Lions captured a 38-14 win on the road. While Penn State has won its last three consecutive meetings against the Hawkeyes, including last year's 41-14 decision at home, Iowa has won four consecutive night games at Kinnick Stadium, in addition to all five of its last Big Ten openers.

Penn State has won two of its three Big Ten openers under the direction of head coach James Franklin, having last opened its conference slate at Iowa in 2010. 

Before diving into Iowa week, take a look back at a few remaining Georgia State highlights and how they shaped positioning in this week's NCAA stats release.

Punt Returner DeAndre Thompkins
Penn State's special teams improvements have been without a doubt exciting to watch. From Saquon Barkley on kick returns to DeAndre Thompkins' resurgence as a punt returner, fans are finding their way to the edge of their seats in anticipation for what either one of these two will do next.

"I couldn't be more pleased," Franklin said postgame. "Obviously having Saquon [Barkley] as a return man on kickoff was a great way to start the game and then obviously, DeAndre [Thompkins] has just been fantastic as a punt returner, even tonight, where their scheme was to use the low angle punt, which are hard to get returns on."

Against Georgia State, Thompkins returned three punts for 44 yards including a 27-yard return in the third quarter. On the year, Thompkins is averaging 20.2 yards per punt return, which ranks seventh in FBS and second in the Big Ten. Bolstered by Thompkins' 202 punt return yards in 2017, Penn State's punt return unit is averaging 17.92 yards, good for ninth in FBS and second in the Big Ten. 

Air Defense
Penn State grabbed three interceptions against Georgia State for the first time since notching three at Maryland in 2015. Stretching its streak, Penn State has secured at least one interception in three consecutive games for the first time since the middle of the 2015 season (vs. Maryland; 3, vs. Illinois; 1, at Northwestern; 1).

Ranked fifth in FBS and first in the Big Ten with six interceptions on the year, Grant Haley is leading the way with two on the year. New to the group was senior Marcus Allen and true freshman Tariq Castro-Fields, who both recorded their first career interceptions. 

"I feel like it's my birthday," Allen joked postgame. "I've been working on this for a long time. I always try to just be myself and I know that getting interceptions is something that helps my team. That's why I work so hard on it. It's an accomplishment for me and my team." 

Strengthening Defense
Penn State utilized opportunities to rotate in a variety of new faces throughout its defense against the Panthers. Among several highlights, defensive end Daniel Joseph tallied his first career tackle, tackle for loss, sack and fumble in his second career appearance on the field.

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With at least nine tackles for loss in all three games this year, Penn State has totaled at least 10 tackles for loss in two of its last three outings. Against Georgia State, eight different Nittany Lions notched one tackle for loss with two more registering a half of a tackle for loss. In this week's NCAA stats release, the Nittany Lions remain atop the FBS and conference standings averaging 11.3 tackles for loss per game. 

Helped out by the pair of shutouts this year, Penn State's defense is also allowing just 4.7 points on the year, good for second in FBS and tops in the league.

Stevens Adds Offensive Edge in Shutout

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football put on a spectacular offensive display Saturday, showcasing its arsenal of options to cruise past Georgia State in its nonconference finale under the lights in front of more than 102,000 fans at Beaver Stadium. 

With touchdowns from eight different Nittany Lions for the first time since a 70-24 win against Akron in 1999, Penn State saw records fall as the points piled up. 

Let's get right into a few of the highlights.

Following the 56-0 shutout win to mark Penn State's first season with two shutouts since 2007, running back Andre Robinson (who accounted for touchdown No. 8 with a career-long 41-yard run), noted that among the familiar four-quarter team instructions, the Nittany Lions were particularly focused on a finishers mentality headed into game three.

Alongside the always resilient Saquon Barkley though, perhaps no better example of a unique ability to finish, shined through Saturday night in quarterback Tommy Stevens. Stevens, who finished 2-for-4 with 43 passing yards and a touchdown also grabbed two receptions for 19 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown catch.

As the first Nittany Lion with a touchdown pass and reception in the same game since Christian Hackenberg in 2015, Stevens was calm as he smiled postgame, noting he was simply doing what he was asked to do to put Penn State in the best position to win.

"I think my teammates give me a great chance, and the coaches included, give me a great chance to be successful, so I'm doing whatever I can to help the team win," Stevens said. 

Insert exhibit one, where Stevens caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trace McSorley out of a two quarterback package that pushed the Nittany Lions out to an early first quarter lead. 

Stevens' touchdown of course, was the first of eight for the Nittany Lions, followed then by Barkley's 85-yard catch and run score for the third-longest pass play in Penn State history and the longest Penn State passing play ever at home.

While it's seemingly not to anyone's surprise that Barkley could make as many defenders miss blasting his was to the end zone as he does on a regular basis, it's all part of the details for Barkley.

"It was kind of just a feel," Barkley said. "I kind of thought that Trace was going to lose me and that me sliding would help. I thought Trace did an unbelievable job of using his eyes and coming down to a check-down. It was kind of weird. He looked away from me at first and I thought that he was going to go down field and just naturally turned around and did what we work on. He goes through his reads, his one, two, and three and checks down. It's just something that we work on every single day in practice and he just naturally came down to me. I was able to get one-on-one and find a way to score and get into the end zone. Brandon Polk and all of the wide receivers did an unbelievable job of blocking down field for me." 

"The fact that we had eight different players scoring is something that's huge for our offense and for our team," McSorley said. "It really puts the defense in a situation where you can't focus in on one guy and all of the weapons that we have and be able to have success with them, it's something that we feel is a huge benefit for us and we want to take advantage of it as best as we can."

Getting back to Stevens though, exhibit two came in the fourth quarter, when McSorley hit Stevens for a 9-yard grab before the Nittany Lions closed out the drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Stevens to wide receiver Saeed Blacknall to widen the advantage to 49-0.

While Stevens was humble postgame with a business-as-usual type approach, McSorley saw Stevens' impact a critical piece to the Nittany Lion offense.   

"You see Tommy being able to come out and be a receiver, be a running threat, be able to take a handoff or throw the ball, it's something that a lot of players in this country aren't able to do," McSorley said. "For him to be that type of player for our team is something that, it gives us a huge option from that package, being able to have two quarterbacks in there. Being able to run our offense but also being able to have those gadget plays getting him the ball in certain situations be able to throw it and run it." 

VIDEO: Georgia State Postgame (Players)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fifth-ranked Penn State shut out Georgia State 56-0 Saturday evening inside Beaver Stadium. Check in with several Nittany Lions for a closer look postgame. 

QB Tommy Stevens, RB Saquon Barkley

S Troy Apke, S Marcus Allen, DE Daniel Joseph

VIDEO: Georgia State Postgame (James Franklin)

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Fifth-ranked Penn State shuts out Georgia State 56-0 Saturday evening inside Beaver Stadium. Check in with head coach James Franklin for a closer look postgame.

Beaver Stadium Extra - Georgia State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Go behind the scenes with Penn State Athletics on football game day for exclusive interviews and a closer look at all things game day from pregame to the final drive.

2017 Gameday Live - No. 5 Penn State vs. Georgia State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 5 Penn State football (2-0, 0-0 B1G) is back in Beaver Stadium for a third consecutive week, hosting Georgia State (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) in a prime time matchup Saturday.

Follow along with our live blog and join the conversation for in-game updates and exclusive content.  
Live Blog No. 5 Penn State vs. Georgia State
 

2017 Gameday - Nittany Lions, Panthers set for Prime Time

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RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central I Game Notes I Depth Chart I Tuesday Presser Roundup I Wednesday Practice Report I T. Smith Q&A I Monday Notebook I Nittany Lions in the NFL I Gameday Reminders & Promotions

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 5 Penn State football (2-0, 0-0 B1G) is back in Beaver Stadium for a third consecutive week, hosting Georgia State (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) in a prime time matchup Saturday.

In the first meeting between the two teams in program history, the Nittany Lions close out the nonconference slate with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff live on the Big Ten Network. 

On a nine-game home winning streak, Penn State's high-scoring explosive offense will also look to stretch its nine-game streak scoring 30-plus, with a program record 33 or more points in as many outings.

Quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley are also streaking. With at least one touchdown pass in 17 consecutive games, McSorley's touchdown pass streak is the third longest in FBS, while Barkey's nine straight rushing touchdowns is tied for the longest in FBS. 

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Penn State's defense hasn't missed a beat this year, currently leading the conference and ranked seventh in FBS in scoring defense, averaging just 7.0 points per game surrendered on the year.

Safety Marcus Allen led the way with a game-high 12 tackles last weekend, including Penn State's first safety since 2010 to earn Lott Impact Player of the Week honors. Allen and cornerback Grant Haley both earned staff defensive player of the week honor, with Haley triggering the Nittany Lion offense right from the start, with a first quarter interception that he returned 42 yards.

Rounding out Penn State's early success in all three phases, the Nittany Lion special teams unit has been instrumental in the 2-0 start, especially key in a 33-14 win against Pittsburgh last week.

"I thought probably one of the biggest factors in the game was drive start," Franklin said. "Our drive start was the 36-yard line. Their drive start was the 18."

Guided by first year head coach Shawn Elliott, Georgia State enters the weekend fresh off an early bye week, having dropped its season opener in a 17-10 loss to Tennessee State.

"I think the thing that probably jumps out to me is essentially this same team went to Wisconsin last year and was leading in the fourth quarter," Franklin said. "So they are going to be used to playing in these Big Ten type of environments on the road." 

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What To Watch For - Penn State
1. Trained in the Art of Chaos
Defensive line coach Sean Spencer has unleashed his wild dogs this year, with the Nittany Lions up front responsible more than half of Penn State's 23 tackles for loss on the year. Currently ranked atop the FBS standings, the Nittany Lions are averaging 11.5 tackles for loss, with defensive tackle Tyrell Chavis and defensive end Shareef Miller tied for fifth in the Big Ten, averaging 1.4 per game. Miller is coming off a career outing against Pittsburgh with 2.5 tackles for loss in addition to two sacks to match a career-high mark.

2. Playing at an Elite Level
On a conference call this week, Penn State assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith noted that the Nittany Lion secondary has made plays on the football this year better than it has in any of the last three years. As Franklin mentioned following the Akron opener, along with Christian Campbell, moving Grant Haley the nickel position has allowed for the Nittany Lions to utilize Amani Oruwariye on the field. Add in experienced safeties in Marcus Allen and Troy Apke and the five have combined for 24 of 99 rushing tackles and 12 of 40 passing tackles on the year, grabbing three interceptions (ranked first in the Big Ten) across two games.

"It's important that these guys want to make a new for themselves," Smith said. "We hear we're LBU and the wild dogs up front, well our guys want to make a name for themselves and that's what they've done the first two games. It's a long season so the third game is up and we're preparing for us to be able to make some plays when the play is presented to us." 

3. Gesicki Approaching Career Mark
Mike Gesicki heads into the third game of the season looking to match the Penn State single season record for touchdowns by a tight end that he originally tied in 2016 with five. Yes, in just two games, Gesicki has multiple touchdown grabs in back-to-back games (4 total), having also recorded a touchdown catch in each of the last five consecutive games. That's not the only Nittany Lion record he'll look to eclipse in game three. With 10 career touchdown receptions, Geskick i just one shy of matching Jesse James' (11, 2012-14) program record for a tight end. 

What to Watch For - Georgia State
1. Talented Wide Receivers
In his weekly press conference, Franklin noted that Georgia State's wide receivers jumped right out to the staff in pregame planning.

"They are a spread offense, mostly 11 personnel team," Franklin said. "They will mix in some other things, as well. They are an RPO team. They like to run the stretch and the pin-and-pull play, which we saw a lot of last week, so we have got a little bit of a head start on that."

Among the group, seniors Glenn Smith and Todd Boyd are the veterans of the group. Noted as not only a receiver but a target in the run game and in the return game, Smith ranks third on Georgia State's career all-purpose yards record list with 2,069 yards, as the first Panther in program history to reach 500 yards on the ground and through the air. Alongside Smith and Boyd is Penny Hart, a redshirt sophomore returning from a season-ending injury in 2016 who led the way with 84.5 receiving yards per game in his rookie season.

2. Solid Secondary
Franklin also noted that he and the staff have identified Georgia State's corners as their top players, presenting a possible challenge for the Nittany Lions. Filled with veterans, Georgia State's senior cornerbacks Jerome Smith and Chandon Sullivan have 57 starts between the two. Combined with B.J. Clay, all three have accounted for 13 career interceptions, grabbing nine in 2016.

3. A Bit More on Defense
Georgia State's defense is loaded with upperclassmen who bring valuable experience. While it's in the past, it's worth noting that inside linebacker accounted for eight tackles, including seven solo stops when Georgia State and then-No. 9 Wisconsin met last year. This year, Payne is second on the team with eight tackles, with one tackle for loss and Georgia State's lone sack on the year. 

The Final Word -
Penn State's ability to capitalize on explosive plays has been pivotal in its surging success. With 18 long plays on the year, the Nittany Lions have only built on last year's thrilling consistency with an even larger arsenal of offensive options. Saturday's matchup will position Penn State against a Georgia State team that has allowed two plays of 50-plus yards in their last 13 games, something Franklin addressed early this week as one of the big challenges come gameday.

"You have a number of ways of creating explosive plays -  that's throwing it over their head or that's breaking tackles," Franklin said. "To me that states that they are one of the better tackling teams in the country because typically that's where a lot of explosive plays come is you break a tackle and now you're able to take off for another 40, 50 yards, whatever it may be. I think that's going to be one of the better storylines in the game."

Terry Smith Q&A - Georgia State Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith joined this week's assistant coaches conference call to talk Penn State football during Georgia State week.

Listen in and catch up on a few notes from Smith's Q&A session.

Update on the Newcomers
Penn State true freshmen corner backs Tariq Castro-Fields and Lamont Wade are two of three true freshmen to make their collegiate debut in 2017. With both developing well, Smith is confident in where their development is at in week three. 

"They have played a decent amount of minutes and plays for the first two games and as the season grows on, we want to have those guys ready so that when we get into conference play - you just never know when injuries are going to set in," Smith said. "We want to have those guys ready so they can step into full time roles as needed."

The Grandpa of The Cornerback Room

When Penn State is recruiting its corners, Smith noted that the type of recruit they are seeking is one who resembles what Haley has done for the Nittany Lions. With an even-keel personality, it's Haley who sets the tone in the room, with his consistency on the field backing up his leadership and accountability, often called the grandpa of the cornerback room as Smith notes. 

"His leadership in our room is why we are playing at a high level right now," Smith said. "A lot that is going on, on the back end is attributed to Grant Haley."

More on the Stripes
Yesterday, Penn State head coach James Franklin mentioned the newest Nittany Lion tradition, where newcomers have to earn the stripes on their practice helmets. Smith noted today that Castro-Fields was actually the first freshman to earn a helmet stripe. 

"Tariq came in really, really prepared," Smith said. "He's a mature kid, he's big, he's strong, he's fast. It was a few weeks, but he has had an instant impact. He has done a really nice job and he continues to get better for us."

Two Week Evaluation
Smith was asked to evaluate the state of the cornerback unit through two weeks, already nearly to the conclusion of week three. 

"I think we're playing at an elite level," Smith said. "I think we're making plays on the football better than we have in the last three years here. I have a great group of guys who are dialed in, they are locked in and they prepare really, really well. They work really hard during the week to perfect their craft."

Practice Report: Georgia State Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and safety Nick Scott met with members of the media Wednesday evening following practice to preview Saturday's upcoming Georgia State matchup. 

The Nittany Lions and the Panthers are set for a primetime matchup on Big Ten Network with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. Catch up on a few updates from week three practice. 

Earning Their Stripes
Franklin shared that the Nittany Lions closed out the post-practice huddle with a stripe presentation, a new tradition that he has been thinking about since arriving on campus. All true freshmen, with the exception of the early enrollees entered camp without stripes on their helmets, something that they'd have to earn. 

Inspired by the book "Legacy," Franklin originally wanted to begin the tradition in his first season, but opted to hold off for just the right time, having also sought input from the leadership council.

"It's something I've wanted to do since year one so we finally came up with something that we were all comfortable with that's just all new players in the program," Franklin said. 

Earning a stripe goes further than just what a newcomer is showing on the field, taking into account meeting conduct, respect, catchability and class attendance.

"It's everything," Franklin said. "It's basically, the veteran leadership players that we have are saying, you're doing a really good job and I'm comfortable with the direction you're headed in terms of how we do things around here at Penn State. It's something that each position and each position coach are handling on their own." 

As one of those veteran leadership players, Scott also talked through the process to earn a stripe. 

"It's by position so true freshmen when they come in, they don't have a stripe on their practice helmet, of course they have one in the game," Scott said. "You decide as a position group with your coaches."

Scott named true freshman safety Jonathan Sutherland as a Nittany Lion who has already earned his stripe, right at the end of camp to be exact. 

"We felt that he came in and he was real physical and he picked up the defense pretty fast and has just been playing fast with a lot of confidence so we gave him his stripe," Scott said.

Effort vs. Result
For Scott, the biggest thing he has learned from special teams coordinator Charles Huff all comes down to the difference between effort and result. 

"I came in and I was a huge effort guy," Scott said. "I liked to run down the field and throw my body around but I wasn't always making the play. Basically, that can be ineffective, so we want a bunch of guys who give a lot of effort but at the same time they stay in their lanes, play under control and make plays."

Quick Look at the Georgia State Receivers
In his Tuesday press conference, Franklin made specific note of Georgia State's wide receivers. Solid athletes, no different than the typical high caliber athletes the Nittany Lions generally see, Scott noted that practicing against Penn State's receivers is perfect preparation. 

"We have a lot of athletic guys and a lot of guys with a lot of speed like [Brandon] Polk and DeAndre [Thompkins]," Scott said. "Just being cognizant of that, as DBs we respect every opponent."

Program Spotlight: From the Peach State to Penn State

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By Mark Brumbaugh, Penn State Strategic Communications

Penn State and the Peach State? Not a very common pairing.

That's not to say the Peach State has not had an impact on Penn State.

Penn State prevailed over the University of Georgia in the 1982 Sugar Bowl to earn the national championship, while the two teams met again recently in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl. There are four Georgians on the current Nittany Lion roster and one of them is particularly well known for a couple of the plays he made last season.

Penn State fans know it by heart. Marcus Allen leapt for the stars, the field goal kick went off his left arm and Grant Haley, an Atlanta resident, scooped up the bouncing football and had nothing but beautiful green grass and crazed White Out fans ahead of him. The touchdown swung the game in Penn State's favor and the Nittany Lions crashed the national scene with a thrilling win over No. 2 Ohio State.

The victory propelled the Lions to the Big Ten Championship Game, where Haley's stop on fourth-and-1 against Wisconsin sealed the victory and a trip to the Rose Bowl. 

A key asset since he stepped on campus in 2014, Haley's contributions have surpassed two big plays­­­. For his position coach, cornerbacks coach Terry Smith, Haley checks all the boxes.

"Grant is obviously the leader of the cornerback room," Smith said. "He's not very outspoken, but he's a leader by example. He's a great student. He's a really smart, reliable and dependable player. You know exactly what you're getting from him. He's got a lot of experience. He knows our system as well as the coaching staff and he puts that out on the field. That is probably the main reason why his peers voted him captain."

The son of Brown University and Penn State alums who met while both were students at Pitt Medical School, Haley was born in Michigan but moved to Georgia before he can remember, when his father, Leon, got a job at a hospital in Atlanta. In fact, Haley was born into a legacy of education, as his maternal grandfather was a school superintendent and his paternal grandmother was a teacher. 

"Every single thing since I've grown up has been 'academics first,' no matter what," Haley said. "My dad always talks about how with your degree, no one can take that away. Even when football goes away, you're still going to have your degree. It's always been important to me because it's been important to them." 

However, sports have always been Haley's passion. He started with soccer and baseball as a young child, but had trouble getting on the football field right away, as his mom, Carla, who ran track for one year at Penn State, was concerned about injuries and did not let him play until he was in the seventh grade.

Inspired by his grandfather, who was also a high school football coach, Haley always knew he wanted to step onto the gridiron himself. Before he got his mother's permission, Haley honed his athleticism playing a variety of sports, adding basketball to his soccer and baseball repertoire.

Once Haley started playing football, it did not take long for him to excel.

"It was funny, my first game I didn't get tackled by anybody. I ran for like three touchdowns -- it was crazy, but it was exciting," Haley said.

Haley became a four-sport star at The Lovett School in Atlanta, particularly in football and baseball, and he also excelled in the classroom, earning a bronze medal on the National Latin Exam.

When it came down to deciding which sport to pursue at the next level, Haley was drawn to the excitement and camaraderie of football. He then looked for a school that could deliver it all. 

"I always wanted a big college town and obviously my parents were high on the academic side," Haley said. "Going to school and getting a quality education is very important to me and setting myself up for the long run was one of the important things. Just finding a place where I could be comfortable and call home and be able to have trust and relationships with different people socially, athletically and academically."

One school that was not on his radar? Penn State.

"Honestly, the only game I remember watching Penn State was when they played Michigan in the White Out in 2013. My mom had pictures [of Penn State] all over the house, but I had never really thought about going there until Coach Franklin switched over." 

Haley was already verbally committed to Vanderbilt and head coach James Franklin by then. While Vandy had all the attributes Haley was looking for in a school, Coach Franklin had stood out on the recruiting trail. He felt Franklin was someone he could trust. 

  • Mike Gesicki
  • Mike Gesicki
  • Mike Gesicki
"Everything fit perfectly: the college town, academically and athletically." - Grant Haley

"Growing up as a recruit, you can tell when people are real and when people are fake and you can tell he's real," Haley said. "He genuinely cares about his players and wants what's best for them on the field and off the field."

That trust and belief held when Franklin decided to depart Vanderbilt for Penn State in January 2014.

"It was a pretty crazy process because I was committed to Vanderbilt for a couple of months, and that quick switch -- I had to figure out what I was doing in a month," Haley said. "[Coach Franklin] gave me a call a couple days [after he went to Penn State] and he asked me if I would come up to Penn State and visit. I immediately did, and it was the best thing for me, getting a chance to visit Penn State made me love it even more."

Haley's mother helped ease any concerns about the still-intact NCAA sanctions.

"My mom always talked about Joe Paterno, the tradition and pride that Penn State has and how she felt about that," Haley said. "When your mom loves something, you kind of love it too. I'm a momma's boy. I never really put it in my mind about the sanctions. Everything fit perfectly: the college town, academically and athletically."

The family's faith in Penn State was rewarded as the bowl ban was lifted, allowing Haley and the Nittany Lions to take on Boston College in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl his freshman year. Fittingly for the former baseball star, he drew his first career start at cornerback in that game, which was played in Yankee Stadium. The Nittany Lions went on to win in overtime.

"I wasn't nervous, I felt prepared [going into the game], but just getting thrown in there like that, it was exhilarating," Haley said. "Saying your first start was in Yankee Stadium in a bowl game is something you'll always remember. When we were going into the stadium, I was looking at all the baseball everything and I was kind of in love with that and someday I can tell my kids, 'Yeah, I got to play in Yankee Stadium for the first start of my college career.' That's a pretty important memory for me."

In 2015, Haley moved into the starting lineup, relying on veterans and current NFL-ers like Trevor Williams and Jordan Lucas to guide him. The season resulted in another personally meaningful bowl game, as the Nittany Lions took on Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville.

"I never got an offer from Georgia, so it was very personal for me. It was down in Florida, so I had a lot of people come to the game. [The result] was disappointing, but it was a special moment for me to get to go down and play close to home, and have a lot of people come out to support me."

Haley took another step forward as a junior last season, taking on a larger leadership role. Thanks in part to him, the 2016 Penn State football season was among the finest in program history. It ultimately ended in a bowl game special to any college football player, "The Granddaddy of Them All," the Rose Bowl Game. 

Entering this year as a senior, Haley is looking to use the wisdom he has gained over the years to take the team to new heights.

"When I first came in, there was a lot of separation between the team and coaching staff," Haley said. "I think I'm a guy who's seen it all, so I'm able to realize if anything is going bad in the locker room and being able to help out with the guys and the coaching staff, be like a middle man almost. Being on the leadership council for the last three years, I've really understood what it takes to be a leader, becoming a vocal guy."

With the season just getting underway, it remains to be seen what the 2017 season has in store for the Nittany Lions, but if the upward trend of personally meaningful bowl games continues for Haley, the ending could be a good one.

Just look up where the national championship game will be played.

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