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Aug. 3, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; - The early morning workouts in the dead of winter, the informal summer workouts and all the hard work and efforts in between are over. On Thursday, the Penn State football team returns to the practice field to resume preparations for the Nittany Lions' 125th season.
Joe Paterno welcomes 41 returning letterwinners from last season and 15 starters for his 46th season as head coach and 62nd year on the Penn State coaching staff. The number of returning lettermen increases to 44 with the addition of three players who missed last season with injuries: running back Brandon Beachum, wide receiver Curtis Drake and tight end Andrew Szczerba.
Sixteen additional players with starting experience also return for the Hall of Fame coach, who brings a 401-135-3 (74.7) career record into the season.
The coaching staff will schedule practices around the last seven days of classes and final exams for Penn State's second summer academic session. Final exams are August 12.
Penn State opens the season on Sept. 3, hosting Indiana State at 12:00 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. The contest will air on the Big Ten Network, the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com Penn State Football Eve will launch the season on Friday, Sept. 2 at 7:00 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. Admission and parking are free for the festive event.
In the second week of the season, the Nittany Lions will host Alabama, as the national powers meet in Happy Valley for the first time since 1989. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m. ET for the ABC national telecast. All Penn State fans are encouraged to turn Beaver Stadium into the Whitehouse for the clash with the Crimson Tide.
Penn State will face seven teams that played in a bowl game during the 2010 season, including Alabama, Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska in Beaver Stadium. Iowa will visit for Penn State's Big Ten home opener on Oct. 8 and one week later, Purdue visits for the Nittany Lions' 92nd Homecoming game at 12 p.m. Penn State's Championship teams and individuals from 2010-11 will be honored during the Illinois game (Oct. 29).
Seven starters return for the Penn State defense, as well as nine players with starting experience. Junior linebacker Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) is on the Watch List for the Butkus Award and Nagurski Trophy and is a consensus pre-season first-team All-Big Ten selection. Defensive tackle Devon Still (Wilmington, Del.), linebacker Nate Stupar (State College), defensive end Jack Crawford (Longport, N.J.), cornerback D'Anton Lynn (Celina, Texas) and safeties Drew Astorino (Edinboro), Nick Sukay (Mount Pleasant) and Malcolm Willis (Marbury, Md.) all have extensive starting experience.
The Nittany Lion offense returns seven starters, as well as eight other players with starting experience. Senior wide receiver Derek Moye (Rochester) is on the Watch List for the Biletnikoff Award and and is a consensus pre-season first-team All-Big Ten choice. Quarterbacks Rob Bolden (Orchard Lake, Mich.) and Matt McGloin (Scranton) will be working with three returning linemen in tackle Quinn Barham (Durham, N.C.), tackle Chima Okoli (Virginia Beach, Va.) and guard Johnnie Troutman (Brown Mills, N.J.). Junior wideouts Justin Brown (Wilmington, Del.) and Devon Smith (White Plains, Md.) also bring extensive starting experience to the lineup.
Penn State Football season and single tickets are available. Ticket purchases and information is available online at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or fans can call Penn State Athletics Customer Relations at 1-800-NITTANY (648-8269) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m-5:00 p.m. Pre-paid parking passes for the general parking lots also are available at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets.
Since the start of the 2005 season, Penn State has earned a 58-19 record, with its 75.3 winning percentage among the top 10 percent in the nation. Over the past six years the Nittany Lions have won two Big Ten Championships, won four bowl games and played in five New Year's or Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games, the nation's third-highest total.
The Nittany Lions have won 38 of their last 44 games in Beaver Stadium dating to a Senior Day win over Michigan State in 2004.