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July 11, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coach Bill O'Brien and a trio of standout football student-athletes will represent Penn State at the 41st Annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon Festivities, July 26-27 in Chicago.
Pre-season All-Big Ten candidates Jordan Hill (Steelton) and Silas Redd (Norwalk, Conn.) and junior guard John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.) will join O'Brien at the prestigious event. Activities will be held at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago as the Big Ten launches its 117th season of football competition.
The Nittany Lions will be playing their 20th season as members of the Big Ten and 126th year overall in 2012.
The Kickoff activities will include news conferences with every Big Ten head coach and players from each squad. Interviews with print and electronic media will take place on both days. The Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon is July 27 and is the nation's largest conference pre-season public event, with a crowd of approximately 2,000 expected to attend the autograph session and luncheon. Tickets are available by calling 1-847-696-1010 weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET.
The Big Ten is entering its second year with its 12 institutions split into the Leaders and Legends Divisions. Last season, Penn State and Wisconsin tied for the inaugural Leaders Division title with 6-2 conference records and Michigan State won the Leaders Division. The Nittany Lions play division foes Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue every season, as well as protected crossover opponent Nebraska.
The winners of the Leaders and Legends Divisions will play in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Penn State has earned one of the nation's top 15 records since the start of the 2005 season, posting a 67-23 (74.4) mark over the past seven years. The Nittany Lions earned their 13th New Year's or Bowl Championship Series berth last year since starting Big Ten play in 1993 and are a conference-best 10-5 in bowl games as Big Ten members.
O'Brien was named the Nittany Lions' 15th head coach on Jan. 6, 2012 after helping the New England Patriots to two Super Bowl appearances during his five years on the coaching staff. In his 20th year as a college or professional football coach, he coached the Patriots' quarterbacks the past three seasons, helping quarterback Tom Brady become the NFL's first unanimous MVP selection in 2010. O'Brien was the Patriots' offensive coordinator in 2011 and was instrumental in New England leading the AFC in scoring (32.1 ppg) and ranking second in the NFL in total offense (428.0 ypg).
O'Brien coached 14 years at Brown, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke prior to joining the Patriots' coaching staff in 2007. He played linebacker and defensive end at Brown from 1990-92 and graduated with a double concentration in political science and organizational behavior management.
A senior this fall, Hill started every game last season and has 17 career starts, the most among players on the Penn State defense. He will anchor a talented and deep defensive line and has improved his strength and endurance while trimming down nearly 20 pounds in the past year. Last season, he led the D-line with 59 tackles, including 8.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. The former Steelton-Highspire High School All-American led the team and was tied for second in the Big Ten with three fumble recoveries, had one forced fumble and two pass break-ups.
Hill was the recipient of the Jim O'Hora Award after spring practice, presented to the squad's most improved defensive player. He is on schedule to graduate in May.
Redd ran for 1,241 yards last season, the 10th-highest season total in Penn State history, en route to second-team All-Big Ten honors. He became the 12th different Penn State player to post 1,000 yards rushing in a season (20 times overall) and gave the Nittany Lions a 1,000-yard rusher for the seventh consecutive season. Redd averaged 5.2 yards on his 321 attempts and scored seven rushing touchdowns, with a long carry of 42 yards.
A junior this season, Redd led all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players with 703 rushing yards last October, including five consecutive 100-yard games. He was the first Nittany Lion with five consecutive 100-yard games since All-American Curtis Enis in 1997. A U.S. Army All-American for Coach Dan Gouin at King Low Heywood Thomas School , he gained career-high 164 yards on just 18 carries (9.1) in Penn State's 34-24 win at Northwestern on Oct. 22.
A redshirt junior this fall, Urschel is the team's starting right guard entering pre-season camp and one of college football's premier scholar-athletes. He will play an instrumental role for an offensive line that returns one starter in center Matt Stankiewitch. Urschel helped Penn State lead the Big Ten in fewest sacks allowed last year, with 14 in 13 games.
Urschel posted a perfect 4.0 grade-point average for the sixth consecutive semester last spring and graduated in May, earning his degree in mathematics in three years. He is enrolled in a master's degree program in mathematics and should be a strong candidate in the fall to become Penn State football's 50th CoSIDA Academic All-American®.
O'Brien's squad returns 34 letterwinners and nine starters for the upcoming season, as well as 16 players that have starting experience, having made a combined total of 77 starts among them.
Season tickets are available for the 2012 season, with the Nittany Lions hosting five teams that played in a bowl game last year, starting with Ohio on Sept. 1 (12 p.m.). Penn State also will host Ohio State (Oct. 27), Wisconsin (Nov. 24-Senior Day), Northwestern (Oct. 6-Homecoming), Indiana (Nov. 17), Navy (Sept. 15-Military Appreciation Day) and Temple (Sept. 22-All-University Day) in Beaver Stadium this fall.
For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can go to www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or call 1-800-648-8269 (1-800-NITTANY) weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The pricing of 2012 Penn State football game tickets and accompanying donation levels is the same as in 2011.
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