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June 11, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a busy afternoon around the Mildred and Louis Lasch Football Building.
As the Penn State Football Fantasy Camp participants warmed-up for their second practice of the day, Coach Joe Paterno stopped by to chat with the group on one of the Lasch practice fields. Paterno then posed for a couple of photographs and did an interview with Big Ten Network anchor/reporter Mike Hall, who is among the fantasy campers and will be doing a story on his experience.
Penn State assistant coaches Kermit Buggs, Larry Johnson, Bill Kenney, and Jay Paterno are on the Fantasy Camp coaching staff, in addition to former Nittany Lion standouts Kenny Jackson, Rick Sayles, and Blair Thomas.
Paterno then met with approximately 35 media from across the state, responding to questions on a variety of subjects, including strong leadership on the squad in addition to co-captains Daryll Clark (Youngstown, Ohio) and Sean Lee (Pittsburgh), academics, recruiting, injuries and any concerns heading into his 44th season as head coach.
Clark and Lee then met with the media in the Lasch squad room. Lee, who missed the 2008 season after suffering a serious knee injury, made it clear he is ready for the season to begin When asked how anxious he was for the start of the season, the former Upper St. Clair High School standout said there are days when he has to turn off his TV when ESPN's College Football Live begins because the adrenaline burst is too much.
The co-captains also talked about some of the other Nittany Lions who are providing leadership, including senior defensive end Jerome Hayes (Bayonne, N.J.), who is participating in workouts as he recovers from his second anterior cruciate ligament tear in the past two seasons. They also mentioned senior cornerback A.J. Wallace (Waldorf, Md.) among the squad's leaders.
There are more than 50 Nittany Lions enrolled in the first summer academic session and they are working out every day, alternating between strength training and running, with informal workouts in the afternoon. When the second summer academic session begins July 1, close to 100 squad members will back on campus to take classes and prepare for the season.
One of the highlights of the second summer session will include Penn State Uplifting Athletes' Lift for Life, raising contributions for the Kidney Cancer Association. The seventh annual event is set for Friday, July 10 from 2-7 p.m. in Holuba Hall. Members of the Nittany Lion football team have raised more than $300,000 to assist kidney cancer patients and improve awareness of the disease the past six years. The Penn State Lift for Life is open to the public.
Penn State has earned one of the nation's Top 10 records since the start of the 2005 season, posting a 40-11 (78.4) mark, good for No. 9 nationally. The Nittany Lions finished No. 8 in the nation last year with an 11-2 record, earning its 22nd Top 10 finish under Coach Joe Paterno.
Entering his 60th season on the Penn State coaching staff, the Hall of Fame coach returns 37 letterwinners and 10 starters for the 2009 campaign. The Nittany Lions host Akron on Sept. 5 to open the season.