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TaxSlayer Bowl: Nittany Lions Visit Naval Station Mayport

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Photo Gallery - Practice & Naval Station Mayport

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - The best parts of a bowl trip are the added experiences the student-athletes get to take part in during their time away from typical game week duties.

Wednesday's TaxSlayer Bowl preparations included the second on-site practice of the week at Fernandina Beach High School, but when the team finished up the morning session, the group boarded buses bound for a unique visit to Naval Station Mayport.

After being escorted through the front gate of the Navy base, the team ate a barbecue lunch before embarking on a tour. The first stop visited a hanger and tarmac with several Sikorsky MH-60R "Seahawk" helicopters. The players interacted with pilots from the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron FOUR ZERO (HSM 40 Airwolves) while they toured the complex combat machines.

The HSM 40 Airwolves provides training to fleet pilots so they "may fight and win at sea." Numerous players sat inside the cockpits and back seating area of the helicopters as they asked questions of the pilots as the crews informed the group on weaponry, radar and what it's like to participate in combat.

11583480.jpegFrom the helicopter hanger, the team was escorted to a pair of ships, with half of the group boarding the USS Vicksburg and the other group walking on the USS Farragut. Named for both the land Battle of Vicksburg fought during the American Civil War and the city of Vicksburg, Miss., the USS Vicksburg (CG-69) is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser.

Named for Admiral David Farragut, the USS Farragut (DDG-99) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The current Executive Officer of the USS Farragut is CDR Megan A. Thomas, who is a Penn State graduate (1997). CDR Thomas was thrilled to welcome members of the team. Thomas addressed the team with words of encouragement on land before half of the squad boarded the 510-foot destroyer for a guided tour. Thomas is on track to become captain of the USS Farragut in the spring, becoming one of just eight female captains in the U.S. Naval fleet of more than 300 ships.

Thomas and the USS Farragut crew of approximately 300 returned home from an eight-month deployment on Nov. 7.

Naval Station Mayport features the third-largest naval surface fleet concentration area in the United States. The busy harbor is capable of accommodating 34 ships and an 8,001-foot runway capable of handling most aircraft in the Department of Defense inventory.

Sitting seven miles east of Jacksonville at the mouth of the St. John's River and Atlantic Beach, the base is home to 10,500 sailors and personnel. The Penn State players and staff members embraced the opportunity to visit the base by asking a host of questions about the operation and combat tactics. The tour included a look at missiles capable of traveling 1,000 nautical miles from the destroyer ships.

"You have to respect everything that these people do for our country," said wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who comes from a U.S. Marines family. "It's pretty cool to see all of this. It's good for all of the guys to see things like this, and we get to spend a lot of time together."

The Nittany Lions will practice again on Thursday at Fernandina Beach High School before a number of student-athletes visit Wolfson Children's Hospital.


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TaxSlayer Bowl Tuesday Practice Roundup - Defense & Special Teams

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Day 2 Photo Gallery - Practice and Welcome Dinner

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - The Nittany Lion football team practiced for the first time in Florida during TaxSlayer Bowl game week on Tuesday afternoon at Fernandina Beach High School.

11580584.jpegTemperatures in the 80s and partly cloudy skies greeted the team as it took the field on Amelia Island. Practicing in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets, Penn State worked through its normal Tuesday game week routine in the warm conditions.

Head coach James Franklin kicked off practice by having a little fun with a role reversal of some of the young offensive players serving as defensive backs and young defensive players serving as receivers in a one-on-one drill. The matchups also included several staff members, including assistant coaches Josh Gattis and Terry Smith.

The post-practice media availability focused on defense and special teams on Tuesday, with coordinator Bob Shoop and a host of players spending time with the approximately 25 media members who attended the last few periods of Tuesday's practice.

Coach Shoop's message to the team during a meeting earlier this week was to play the TaxSlayer Bowl with the mindset that this postseason game will play a big role in defining the 2015 team's legacy. Leading up to gameday, Shoop said the team has practiced with a sense of urgency and intensity to ensure the reps and drills have been crisp as the 71st TaxSlayer Bowl inches closer.

"I think this is a great opportunity for us," said Shoop. "We've practiced really well. There has been a lot of juice and a lot of energy. I think about all of the seniors in this group, and that's a special group of men...Nobody on this team has had a losing season. To be in Jacksonville on Jan. 2 playing Georgia is a great opportunity for us. Everybody has really practiced well, and they are looking forward to it."

The Nittany Lions had a group of visitors from the Jacksonville area at the end of practice on Tuesday. Approximately 15 families and children from Dreams Come True, an organization in the northeastern portion of Florida serving as a non-profit dedicated to granting dreams for children with life-threatening illness, watched practice and interacted with the players after the team finished Tuesday's session.

11580539.jpegThe practice attendees from Dreams Come True visited from Jacksonville, St. Augustine and southern Georgia. The organization has been affiliated with the TaxSlayer Bowl for more than 10 years, but Tuesday was the first time the children were able to attend a practice.

For the team, spending time at the expansive pool area on the team hotel's property and beach have been highlights during the stay in Florida. Running back and special teams ace Nick Scott said that he spent all evening on Monday at the pool, and on Tuesday, he and the Lions were headed to the Atlantic Ocean after practice.

"The pool has been my favorite part (at the hotel). It's awesome," Scott said. "A lot of the guys have walked along the beach, but I'm definitely planning on going out into the water today."

The Nittany Lion travel party participated in a welcome dinner at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation on Tuesday night. The surf and turf buffet featured a wide array of local seafood. The team will practice in the morning on Wednesday before a trip to Naval Station Mayport for a tour and lunch.


Post-Practice Player Remarks - Defense & Special Teams

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Nittany Lions Arrive in Florida for TaxSlayer Bowl

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Photo Gallery

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - Sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-80s greeted the Nittany Lion football travel party when it arrived in Florida on Monday afternoon.

Penn State boarded a United Airlines Boeing 747-400 in Harrisburg for a quick flight to Jacksonville to kick off game week activities for the TaxSlayer Bowl. Amelia Island will be the team's home for the days leading up to the program's 46th bowl game. Penn State will begin on-field prep for the matchup against Georgia on Tuesday afternoon at Fernandina Beach High School.

Head coach James Franklin and sophomores Grant Haley and DaeSean Hamilton talked with the media after the team arrived on Amelia Island on Monday. Take a look here.

James Franklin

Player Remarks

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VIDEO: TaxSlayer Bowl Preview - 1-on-1 with James Franklin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - 'Tis the season for spending time with family and friends. At, we would like to wish all of the loyal Penn State fans Happy Holidays.

We can't wait to see everyone clad in white during the TaxSlayer Bowl. In the meantime, we caught up with head coach James Franklin on TaxSlayer Bowl Media Day to look ahead to the team's trip to Jacksonville for the program's 46th bowl game.

The Nittany Lion student-athletes and staff members are home for the Christmas holiday. The team practiced on Monday before a few days off this week. The staff and team will reconvene in Happy Valley on Sunday for one final practice before the travel party heads to Jacksonville on Monday morning.

Enjoy the holiday, and we will see you in Jacksonville next week.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

TaxSlayer Bowl Visitor's Guide - Things to Do in Jacksonville Area

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will play in Jacksonville for the first time in 40 years when they meet Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2 (12 p.m. on ESPN).

Fans traveling to Jacksonville to cheer on the Blue and White can look for warmer temperatures and plenty of options to see and do during a visit to the Sunshine State.

Penn State fans still looking for plans on Jan. 2 are encouraged to purchase tickets for the TaxSlayer Bowl. More than 30,000 Penn State alums live in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. For more information on tickets, ticket packages and bowl information, visit Penn State's Bowl Central at or call 1-800-NITTANY, weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

For those who are traveling, take a look through a few areas to visit during a stay in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Landing
In the heart of downtown Jacksonville alongside the St. Johns River (one of the few rivers in the United States that flows north) is Jacksonville Landing. Built in 1987, Jacksonville Landing features 126,000 square feet of shopping, dining and a historic museum complex. There are more than 60 stores and services located inside Jacksonville Landing, including 16 different restaurants to choose from. The Landing features several restaurants with spectacular views of the St. Johns River. Fans are also encouraged to visit the Riverwalk and ride the Water Taxi while visiting Jacksonville Landing. Jacksonville Landing is also scheduled to conduct a fireworks display on New Year's Eve. Live music and entertainment begins at 4 p.m. on New Year's Eve at Jacksonville Landing.

More Information on Jacksonville Landing -


Jacksonville Beach
Jacksonville Beach is a city on the Atlantic Coast, east of downtown Jacksonville. Along with Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville Beach makes up a host of communities part of the "Jacksonville Beaches". There are 22 miles of beaches in Jacksonville, offering a wide-range of water sports, restaurants and family fun. Adventure Landing, which features a water park, Beaches Museum and History Park and Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier are among the areas to visit.

More information on Jacksonville Beach -


Amelia Island
Located approximately 45 minutes north of downtown Jacksonville, Amelia Island is a chain of barrier islands featuring 13 miles of pristine beaches. There are more than 70 restaurants, 117 holes of world-class golf, a 50-block historic district downtown Fernandina Beach, shopping and a landscape of the lush maritime forest, marshland and beaches.

More information on Amelia Island -


The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass
The Stadium Course has been honored by multiple golf publications as a top golf destination. This is also the home of The Players Championship, with its par-3 17th island green being known as one of the world's most recognized and emulated holes.

More information on TPC Sawgrass -

17 tpc.jpg

St. Augustine
The oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the contiguous United State, St. Augustine is located approximately 45 minutes south of Jacksonville along the Atlantic Coast. The city was founded on Sept. 8, 1565 and served as the capital of Spanish Florida for more than 200 years. St. Augustine boasts a historic district with cobblestone streets, cafes, unique shops and landmarks, including Castillo de San Marcos, Lightner Museum, Flagler College and Fort Matanzas. During Nights of Lights, St. Augustine glows with holiday lights from the ground to the rooftops. St. Augustine's Nights of Lights feature millions of tiny white lights that create a festive atmosphere in the Nation's oldest city.

More information on St. Augustine -

castillo de san marcos.jpgnight of lights.jpg


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Sights & Sounds from TaxSlayer Bowl Media Day

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11566228.jpegTaxSlayer Bowl Central | James Franklin Press Conference Video | Photo Gallery
Transcripts: James Franklin | Assistant Coaches | Players

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are two weeks away from playing in the program's 46th bowl game when they line up against Georgia at the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville.

Following a break for final exams, the Nittany Lions returned to the practice field on Friday afternoon to resume on-field preparations for the season finale. Prior to practice, head coach James Franklin, along with two assistant coaches and a host of players, spent time with the media at Beaver Stadium to preview the trip to Florida and the game.

Take a look through some sights and sounds following a busy day of interviews for TaxSlayer Bowl Media Day.

Fourteen Scheduled to Graduate
This will be a momentous weekend for a host of Nittany Lions and the culmination of their academic endeavors. In all, 14 members on the current roster are slated to participate at commencement ceremonies this weekend. That list includes center Angelo Mangiro, who will be earning a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an option in early childhood education. The other seniors who have been approved to graduate are: Matt Baney, Tarow Barney, first-team All-American Carl Nassib, Trevor Williams and All-Big Ten honoree Anthony Zettel.

The football graduates include eight players who have eligibility remaining for the 2016 season: Adam Breneman, Derek Dowrey, Malik Golden, Austin Johnson, Jake Kiley, Geno Lewis, Nyeem Wartman-White and Gary Wooten, Jr.

"I'm really proud of the guys that we have got graduating this weekend, which is what it's all about," said head coach James Franklin. Those guys have worked incredibly hard, and I'm very proud of everything they have accomplished."

Bowl Practices
The Nittany Lions began practicing for the postseason on the day of the TaxSlayer Bowl announcement on Dec. 6. Penn State practiced five times during the first week of the allotted period. Under NCAA rules, teams competing in a postseason bowl game are allowed to practice 15 times. From now until the 12 p.m. kick on Jan. 2, the Lions are slated to practice on Friday, Sunday and Monday before heading home for the Christmas holiday. The team will then resume normal game-week preparations on Dec. 27 before traveling to Jacksonville on Dec. 28.

"There's a period of time that the players and coaches get to spend with their families and enjoy themselves and then we have been able to get a good amount of practices since the season ended, take a little break and then get back into almost a normal week and get ready for the game," said Franklin.

As was the case last season, the team spent the first handful of practices as primarily "player development" sessions. The coaching staff spent final exams week game planning for Georgia. Coach Franklin noted that Friday's session would be half player development and half prep for Georgia. Beginning on Sunday, the team will shift focus entirely towards Georgia prep.

Bowl Practice Site
The team will set up camp in Amelia Island, Fla., during the days leading up to the TaxSlayer Bowl. The team will practice at Fernandina Beach High School, which is located approximately one hour north of downtown Jacksonville.

Lions Looking Ahead to Warm Weather
While it has been an unseasonably warm December in Happy Valley, the players are excited about spending time in Florida for several days before kickoff at EverBank Field. Bowl games are a unique opportunity to enable the players a chance to spend time together while participating in a host of events before playing the game.

"Obviously a bowl game is a great experience because it extends that period of time you have in that season, or that year," said offensive tackle Andrew Nelson. "This 2015 Penn State football team is going to be together for a couple more months than we could have been and that's what's great. The bowl tries to do a great job of making it an awesome experience for the guys and it is fun."

The team will spend five nights at a resort alongside the Atlantic Ocean on Amelia Island. Preliminary forecasts are predicting weather conditions in the mid-70s when the team arrives in Florida.

"I'm pretty anxious," said wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton. "Going down Jacksonville is going to be a nice environment. The resort we are staying at is supposed to be very nice. It will be a fun week with all the guys and going to all of the bowl game festivities should be pretty fun."

A Look at Georgia's Defense

When Penn State and Georgia line up for the TaxSlayer Bowl, it will be a matchup of two talented defenses. The Bulldogs head into the bowl season with a pass defense ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Bulldogs have allowed just 146.1 passing yards per game, nine passing touchdowns and a total of 156 completions.

"Watching them on film I can see that they are solid," said Hamilton. "I think their front seven is very good and their defensive backs are obviously very athletic - I think those are the people who anchor their defensive and make plays for them. I think it will be a good challenge for us and we're looking forward to it."

Georgia is ranked ninth in the nation in scoring defense at 16.9 points per game. The entire projected starting front seven on the Bulldog depth chart is made up of juniors or seniors. Georgia finished the regular season fifth nationally in fewest first downs allowed.

Tickets Available
Penn State fans still looking for plans on Jan. 2 are encouraged to purchase tickets for the TaxSlayer Bowl. More than 30,000 Penn State alums live in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. For more information on tickets, ticket packages and bowl information, visit Penn State's Bowl Central at or call 1-800-NITTANY, weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Video Interviews talks with several Nittany Lions on TaxSlayer Bowl Media Day.

Christian Hackenberg

Chris Godwin

Jason Cabinda

Grant Haley

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Chaz Powell Returns to Campus to Earn Degree After Stint in NFL

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Chaz Powell's Penn State career concluded at the end of the 2011 season, he had aspirations of playing on Sundays.

Powell knew that it would take a full commitment during the spring semester of 2012 to prepare for a shot at earning a place on an NFL roster. To best prepare for the draft, he devoted his full attention to training for the NFL Combine and his Pro Day workout.

In doing so, Powell pursued his dream of being a professional football player.

The York, Pa., native found his way to Oakland after the Raiders signed him as a free agent following the draft. He was released during the final days of August that year, and decided that he would shift his attention back to another lifelong dream.

Powell worked with the Morgan Academic Center staff that works with the football program to complete paperwork to re-enroll back at Penn State to finish his degree. The Susquehannock High School product needed just one class to complete a degree in criminal justice.

But, on the day he submitted paperwork to finish the degree, Powell received a call from the Green Bay Packers. The organization invited Powell to a tryout. The Packers signed Powell, and for the next two years he played in Green Bay and with the New York Giants.

During his stint in the NFL, Powell always had the final Penn State class necessary to graduate in the back of his mind. But the timing and career in the NFL did not grant him an opportunity to invest a full semester's worth of effort into earning his degree.

In total, he spent three seasons with NFL organizations and then shifted attention to earning money to make ends meet back in his hometown of York.

"I came to Penn State to play for Coach (Joe) Paterno and attend school at a great University. He always preached to us that you need to go to class and get your degree because football is not going to last forever. And he was right," Powell said.

Needing just four credits of Statistics 200, Todd Kulka, Penn State Assistant Director, Football Academic Support Services & Academic Counselor called Powell this past summer and asked if the fall semester was a time he could finish his degree.

Working regular hours as a plumber in the York area, Powell committed to driving two hours from his home to the University Park campus for the Stat 200 class each Thursday from 6-9:30 p.m.

Powell usually arrived on campus a bit early on Thursdays to complete homework assignments before participating in the class session. He would then get back in the car and drive home to York before waking up each Friday at 5 a.m. to begin his work day.

For 16 weeks this fall, Powell made the 220-mile round trip commute and is on schedule to earn his criminal justice degree at the Penn State commencement ceremony this Saturday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center.

"I was gifted enough to play in the NFL for three years, with a couple practice squad opportunities here and there," Powell said. "But like Coach Paterno said, football didn't last forever. And I learned that having your college degree can take you anywhere in the world. It will mean a lot to me."

He is on track to join 14 current football student-athletes intending to graduate this weekend. Penn State Football owns a graduation success rate of 81 percent, which is nine points higher than the Division I and FBS average.

Powell has aspirations of working in law enforcement, but is on track to also become a registered plumber. With a degree in hand and his work towards becoming a licensed professional in the plumbing industry, he will have options, all thanks to countless hours of time and effort to become a Penn State graduate.

"My mom is really excited about it," Powell said. "It's going to be a big accomplishment for me and a big relief to have my degree in hand."

Most Penn State fans will remember Powell as a versatile athlete with great speed. A four-year letterwinner, he began his career as a receiver before shifting to the defensive backfield prior to his junior season in 2010. Powell was a dynamic kickoff returner for the Blue and White, becoming the first Penn State player to deliver a 100-yard return for a score in more than 35 years in the 2010 season opener. He owns schools records for career kickoff returns (73) and kickoff return yardage (1,866).

But football is just a sliver of Powell's success story in Happy Valley. He realized a dream by spending time in the NFL, but his career lasted three seasons. With a degree in hand come Saturday, Powell will be a Penn State alum forever.

"Once you are given the opportunity to go out there and showcase what you can do, it just proves that anyone can do it, no matter if you are from a small town or not," Powell said. "There are so many alums in this world from Penn State, and it really felt like a family to me when I was here. I was only two hours from home, so my family got to come watch me play. Now, it will be a big relief off my shoulders and something that means a lot to me come Saturday."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Joe Moorhead Introduced as New Offensive Coordinator

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11562759.jpegPress Conference Video | Photo Gallery | Press Conference Transcript

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When head coach James Franklin and Joe Moorhead sat down to interview for the open offensive coordinator position, neither expected to be talking football for more than four hours.

But time flies when you spend time talking to a person as passionate about the game as you.

Franklin and Moorhead started with the basics of running game scheme around 10:15 p.m. on a night last week in New York. After talking through the passing game, family, Penn State and the coaching staff, Franklin and Moorhead turned to the clock and it was 2:47 a.m.

"And we could have kept going," Franklin joked.

After being announced as the new offensive coordinator on Saturday, Moorhead and Franklin spent time with the media on Wednesday afternoon in Beaver Stadium to talk about the process leading up to Moorhead's hiring and the future.

Franklin said that after numerous discussions, he knew that Moorhead was a great fit for Penn State because he possesses all of the characteristics necessary to be a successful leader of the Nittany Lion offense. Coach Franklin admired how detail-oriented Moorhead was during clinic talks he had been to.

The two also spent some time together when the Nittany Lions practiced at Fordham University in the days leading up to the Pinstripe Bowl last season. And through analyzing all of Moorhead's offensive numbers during his stints at Fordham, Connecticut and Akron, Franklin knew he was the right man for the job.

"You run all the data, third down percentage, scoring offense, red zone, so on and so forth; every piece of information you can possibly imagine, and you look at who is at the top of ever single category, and Joe kept jumping to the top of three or four in every single category," Franklin said.

A native of Pittsburgh, Moorhead is a graduate of Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School. For him, the opportunity to return to his home state was something he couldn't pass up when the opportunity presented itself.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for both me and my family, both professionally and personally," said Moorhead. "Being able to come back close to home and contribute to such a tradition-rich program like Penn State and help Coach Franklin and the program achieve their goals, I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity."

Moorhead noted that the foundation of an ideal offense in his eye is a successful running game. He wants to be physical on the ground. Collectively, Moorhead summed up his offensively philosophy as one that is physical and aggressive.

"We want to dictate tempo. We want to be aggressive. We want to be physical in the run game. We want to be explosive in the pass game," said Moorhead.

The hiring comes at a great time for Moorhead to get a jumpstart on planning for 2016. He will spend the next two weeks leading up to the TaxSlayer Bowl meeting with the players, observing at practice and getting to know the rest of the coaching staff. Moorhead will observe, but not coach during the bowl game.

Learn more about the new offensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions in an exclusive one-on-one interview with

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Nutrition Bar Enhancing Football Student-Athlete Experience

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11560444.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Nittany Lions walk off the practice field, there is now a sparkling new stop to make before departing the Lasch Football Building.

Late in the season, the football student-athletes began christening a state-of-the-art nutrition bar facility adjacent to the 13,000-square-foot weight room.

Designed to provide excellent sources of carbohydrates and proteins for pre-workout energy and post-workout recovery, the fueling station was a central part of the Lasch Renovation, which is a multi-phased project, that will allow Penn State football to provide the resources it needs to recruit an support the nation's most talented and driven student-athletes.

"The Lasch Football Nutrition Bar is an idea we've had since Coach (James) Franklin got here two years ago," said Assistant Athletic Director for Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt. "It's something we felt like was absolutely necessary to maximize the nutrition of our football student-athletes. To do it correctly, we put a great deal of thought into the design of it. Number one, we wanted to set it up in a way to give the players what they need to enhance their performance as much as possible. And number two, we wanted make it a quick, easy, time-saving initiative."

Penn State Athletics partnered with Mortenson Construction, Crawford Architects and Advent to create an optimum design and location to set up the nutrition bar in a place with close proximity to the locker room, weight room, training room and practice fields for optimum convenience and use.

"We wanted it to be in an area that was going to see a high volume of traffic," said Assistant Director of Performance Enhancement Chuck Losey, who worked closely with design team on the location and set-up of the nutrition bar. "We have our side entrance to the building right next to where the nutrition bar is located. The guys come in and out of that entrance several times during the day, so they are exposed to the nutrition bar location regularly."

The fueling station features six Vitamix blenders for high volume smoothie making, refrigerators, coolers, shelves and display areas for more than 20 different products for pre- and post-workout nutrition. The bar's functionality is streamlined to enable the student-athletes the opportunity to grab food on the go.

The nutrition bar is aligned with a Penn State Athletics initiative announced in October 2014 that created Enhanced Fueling Stations accessible to all 31 teams on campus. The announcement came on the heels of the NCAA granting member institutions the opportunity to play a greater role in the nutritional health needs of student-athletes.

The nutrition bar features a wide-range of foods and snacks that are high sources of carbohydrates and proteins. The food list ranges from fresh fruits to a variety of nuts to breads and bagels, along with Gatorade products and milks.

"The primary goal of the selection was to provide excellent sources of carbohydrates for pre-exercise energy and post-exercise recovery," said Director of Sports Nutrition Dr. Kris Clark. "We also have high quality protein foods, and that is a recovery focus. The carbohydrates are for energy leading up to a workout in the weight room or on the field, and also, carbohydrates are a big recovery nutrient, along with proteins."

Convenience was paramount to the design of the nutrition bar, ensuring that the access was easy and functional to use for the student-athletes.

"With the time crunch student-athletes face, the foods we have selected on the fueling station and now the nutrition bar are exactly those types of foods that can be eaten, easily digestible and provide rapid energy and excellent sources of recovery," said Clark.

In addition to the practical services of the nutrition bar, the location serves as an educational area. There are posters and information positioned around the bar to enhance the overall understanding the student-athletes have of proper nutrition and its impact on increasing performance, energy and injury prevention.

"We are using the space to provide nutritional education, as well," Clark said. "It's not just a place where you have to come in, eat and leave. We will be on site to create dialogue about how they can improve their diets. We will have materials in the nutrition bar to stimulate conversation. It will be a center to communicate good nutrition principles."

Members of the nutrition and performance enhancement staffs are on site during hours of operation to assist with smoothie making and are available to answer nutrition-related questions on how to select the best foods for energy and recovery before and after workouts.

The response to the nutrition bar has been outstanding during its first month of operation.

"When we stocked the nutrition bar for the first time, it was beyond everyone's expectations," Galt said. "The design and construction groups did a phenomenal job putting things together and giving us what we need for that area. The athletes love it. It's been an overwhelmingly positive response."

The Nittany Lions will square off against Georgia in the 71st TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday, Jan. 2 at noon. The game will air on ESPN, the Penn State Sports Network and For more information on tickets, ticket packages and bowl information, visit Penn State's Bowl Central at or call 1-800-NITTANY.

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TaxSlayer Bowl Officials Thrilled to Host Nittany Lions for First Time Since 1976

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Bowl Central

JACKSONVILLE - Sunny skies, temperatures in the 70s and excellent hospitality greeted a small group of Nittany Lion staff members during an advance trip to the site of Penn State's 46th bowl game this week.

bowl_feature_blog 2.jpgSet to collide with Georgia in the 71st TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2 inside EverBank Field downtown Jacksonville, the Nittany Lions will travel to Florida later this month for final game of the 2015 season. In preparation for the bowl trip, the staff members toured the stadium, team and fan hotels, practice facility and participated in the TaxSlayer Bowl Speaker Series Luncheon.

Representatives from across the TaxSlayer Bowl and Jacksonville Sports Council provided a first-rate experience during the advance planning trip and could not be happier to host the Nittany Lions and their fans in The Sunshine State for the first time since the 1976 Gator Bowl.

"You look at (Penn State playing in) the Big Ten, arguably the best conference in America. You look at the players and the awards they have won. Coach (James) Franklin clearly has the program going in the right direction," said TaxSlayer Bowl President and CEO Rick Catlett. "It's one of those things where we are going to have the opportunity to have a Big Ten team here, and you look forward to having those iconic brands, and clearly Penn State is an iconic brand."

A college football fanatic, Catlett attended the 1983 Sugar Bowl between Penn State and Georgia when the Nittany Lions captured the program's first national title with a 27-23 victory over the Bulldogs.

"They've only played one other time, which was in the national championship," Catlett said. "To bring these two teams back together, from two of the best conferences in America, I couldn't be happier to have them here."

The feeling is mutual from the Penn State administrators, football staff and student-athletes. The Nittany Lions are returning to a Florida bowl game for the first time since the 2010 season (2011 Outback Bowl). With a rich tradition of the TaxSlayer/Gator Bowl spanning more than seven decades, the program is thrilled with the matchup scheduled to end the season.

"It's a really wonderful bowl when it comes to tradition, and it's a great location for the team and fans for late December and early January," said Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. "I also think the opportunity to put Penn State Football to the test against a great opponent like Georgia is what Penn State Football is all about. It's an opportunity that our community is really going to want to be a part of."

"Our players are ecstatic about being here. It's such a great bowl game," said head coach James Franklin. "And then with the history against Georgia, our fans are really excited to play a program like Georgia. It is just a great opportunity."

On the field, the Nittany Lions will collide with a Georgia team led by interim head coach Bryan McClendon. The Bulldogs have won four consecutive games leading up to the postseason en route to a 9-3 overall record.

Pitting two of America's top conferences, Penn State will meet a team from the SEC for the first time in four seasons (2011 vs. Alabama). The TaxSlayer Bowl is one of four matchups between the Big Ten and the SEC in the post-season, including three in the state of Florida.

"College football is the best sport in America," Catlett said. "It has the best playoff system in America with the way it works down. Teams that achieve high goals still have a place to go outside of the playoff, and that's the college bowl system. I don't think there is anything better than that."

bowl_feature_blog 3.jpgOff the field, the Penn State faithful traveling to the Jacksonville area for the game will be greeted by warm hospitality, sunshine and plenty of activities along the St Johns River at Jacksonville Landing and on the Atlantic Coast.

"This is just a great city," Catlett said. "This is the largest land mass city in the continental United States. We've got an ocean. We've got a riverfront. We've got fabulous golf. Just to the south of us is the oldest city in America in St. Augustine...It's an NFL stadium that is probably second to none in fan comfort and amenities. We like to throw parties down here, and I think the fans will have a great time in Jacksonville."

Approximately 30,000 Penn State alums live in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. That mark includes more than 7,600 alums in the Jacksonville, Daytona, Orlando and Tampa metro areas.

A bowl matchup featuring two historic programs in a warm climate during is a great way for the 2015 season to close as the program builds towards a bright future. 

"The opportunity to come down to Florida for great weather and enjoy the Holiday season with one another and celebrate Penn State Football and the bring in the New Year while looking ahead to the bright future is a really neat opportunity for the fans," said Barbour.

We will have much more coverage on the events leading up to the TaxSlayer Bowl in the coming days on Penn State and Georgia will meet at noon on Jan. 2. For ticket and travel information, please visit or call 1-800-NITTANY.

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Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony