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July 10, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; July 10, 2013 - Head coach Bill O'Brien will be joined by a trio of experienced senior leaders when the Penn State contingent converges on the 42nd Annual Big Ten Kickoff, July 24-25 in Chicago.
Seniors Glenn Carson (Manahawkin, N.J.), John Urschel (Williamsville N.Y.) and Malcolm Willis (Marbury, Md.) will head to the Windy City to accompany O'Brien at one of the most prominent preseason media festivities in the nation. The International Ballroom inside the Hilton Chicago will provide the backdrop for the event, which officially launches the start of the 118th season of Big Ten football.
One of the most exciting and unique events in college football, the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon provides nearly 2,000 fans and media members the chance to meet players and coaches from all 12 Big Ten institutions.
The nation's largest conference pre-season public event includes autograph and photo sessions for fans, breakout media sessions with outlets from around the country and a luncheon that feature comments from all 12 head coaches. Urschel has earned the prestigious honor of speaking on behalf of the 36 players in attendance at the July 25 Kickoff Luncheon.
Carson, Urschel and Willis have all graduated, with Urschel earning his undergraduate and master's degrees in math with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
The 2012 Dave McClain (media) and Hayes-Schembechler (coaches) Big Ten Coach of the Year, O'Brien's team posted an 8-4 record and a 6-2 mark in Big Ten play during his first season. The 15th head coach in the program's illustrious 127-year history, O'Brien's eight wins were the most by a first year head coach at Penn State and his five straight wins during the 2012 season mark the longest winning streak by a first year frontman in Penn State laurels.
O'Brien's fast paced offense produced the Big Ten's passing leader (Matt McGloin), top receiver (Allen Robinson) and a 1,000-yard running back (Zach Zwinak) who gained 100 yards six times in eight Big Ten games. Robinson earned the Big Ten Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year, while Michael Mauti was named the Big Ten Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year and Deion Barnes garnered the Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
O'Brien also was named the 2012 Bear Bryant Coach of the Year, Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year and the ESPN Coach of the Year. He also helped Penn State earn two All-Americans (Jordan Hill and Mauti), one national award winner (McGloin, Burlsworth Trophy) and six first-team All-Big Ten selections.
Carson enters the 2013 season as the most experienced veteran on a defensive unit that returns six starters and several experienced reserves. The middle linebacker has started all but one game the past two seasons and his 24 starts are the most on the team. Carson will begin his third year as a primary contributor for a defensive corps that ranked second in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in scoring defense in 2012.
Another in the long line of "Linebacker U." standouts, Carson is a tough, hard-hitting and instinctive player that should contend for All-Big Ten and Butkus Award honors. His 85 tackles from 2012 make him one of the top retuning tacklers in the conference and the former Southern Regional High School product has amassed 171 tackles, needing just 80 stops to move into the Top 15 on the all-time Penn State tackles list.
The 6-foot-3, 307-pound Urschel is not only one of the top linemen in the conference, but also is the nation's premier college football scholar-athlete. A 2012 first team All-Big Ten selection at guard and a first team CoSIDA Academic All-American, Urschel paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher, protected a 3,000-yard passer, been published as a researcher and taught a class (Math 041) at Penn State.
The embodiment of the term student-athlete, Urschel has a tremendous work-ethic and desire to improve, both on and off the field. The former Canisius High School standout will be an anchor on the offensive line this season and will look to help the Nittany Lions sustain what was one of the conference's top offensive units in 2012. Urschel was instrumental in helping the Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) in conference games and rank second in passing offense (283.1 ypg) and scoring offense (32.6) in 2012.
One of the hardest hitting safeties in the Big Ten, Willis looks to add to a strong 2012 season that featured 45 tackles and a fumble recovery. The Marbury, Md. native missed the final two games of last season due to a minor knee injury and enters the 2013 campaign second on the team with 17 career starts.
Willis ranked seventh on the team in 2012 with 45 tackles (27 solo) and made a season high seven stops at No. 18 Nebraska, but was injured against the Cornhuskers. He made five or more tackles on five occasions last year and has 14 career games with five stops from the defensive backfield. He has 132 career tackles.
O'Brien's squad returns 16 starters and 38 letterwinners for this year. Season tickets are available for the 2013 campaign. The Nittany Lions will host five bowl teams from 2012, including three teams that finished in the BCS Top 25: Michigan (Oct. 12-Homecoming), Nebraska (Nov. 23) and Kent State (Sept. 21). Purdue, Illinois, UCF and Eastern Michigan also will visit Beaver Stadium this fall.
Penn State opens its 127th season vs. Syracuse on August 31 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets and for the Syracuse game, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.GoPSUsports.com or call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
A limited number of tickets remain for the 42nd Annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon and are available for $100 per seat or $1,000 per table (10 seats). Contact Sue Immekus at the Big Ten office at 847-696-1010, ext. 122 to purchase tickets.
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