Thousands of Penn State football fans stage rally for players

Posted: August 02, 2012

STATE COLLEGE – Unprecedented sanctions call for an unprecedented show of support.

That's the way approximately 3,000 Penn State supporters saw it. The turnout for Tuesday's 6 a.m. "Rise and Rally" event in the parking lot between Holuba Hall and the Lasch Football Building caused some, like junior tight end Garry Gilliam, to be left nearly speechless.

"Yeah, don't really have many words for it," a beaming Gilliam said after throngs of Penn State supporters lined the sidelines of the Lasch Building's practice field to watch his team work out. "It's surreal to come out of my apartment and see this amount of people out here to support us for a half-hour workout. It just shows how much respect and commitment our fans have."

Some of the loudest "We Are … Penn State" chants heard in Happy Valley in months shattered the morning air, as the Nittany Lions filed into the Lasch Building for their workout. Gracious players shook hands, slapped high-fives and signed autographs as they made their way through the boisterous crowd.

Later, as the team walked from Lasch to Holuba Hall to prepare to work out, the gathering again lined up on either side of the walkway so fans could praise the players walking through. After the workout, players invited the Penn State faithful to join them in the center of the field as senior linebacker Michael Mauti proudly thanked them for coming out.

Among the supporters at the event were Sue Paterno, widow of the legendary football coach, Board of Trustees members Anthony Lubrano and Adam Taliaferro, the men's basketball and women's soccer teams, and the Blue Band.

The rally comes after the NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions on Penn State last Monday in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal and former FBI director Louis Freeh's finding of a coverup after an 8-month long investigation.

Penn State won't be playing in a bowl or postseason game for 4 years, it will lose scholarships for the same amount of time, and it was fined $60 million.

That didn't deter many, like freshman Connor Garrigan, from waking up at 5 a.m. and walking to the parking lot with friends.

"It shows that we're going to support the people that stayed," Garrigan said of "Rise and Rally." "The punishments are pretty severe and it's understandable for players to leave, like [running back] Silas Redd, but it shows that the university has a commitment to the players."

The grassroots event began with an idea from the hosts of the Internet radio's "The Goon Show," Keith "Goon" Conlin and Tim Sweeney. A Facebook event page by Undefeated Broadcasting picked up steam as Tuesday neared, but the turnout was much more than the 1,700-odd who RSVPed online.

At one point during the event, #RiseAndRally trended nationally on Twitter.

"I expected there to be some people, but I didn't think there would be this much," senior running back Michael Zordich said. "The Penn State family just never ceases to amaze you. They always surprise you and they always come with something more than you think will be there."

At around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN reported that Redd had transferred to USC. Backup safety Tim Buckley has transferred to North Carolina State, and quarterback Rob Bolden is no longer listed on Penn State's roster.

After witnessing the support Penn State gave his team today and before hearing the news about Redd, redshirt senior quarterback Matt McGloin couldn't understand why anyone would transfer.

"After today, I don't think anyone is gonna get out of here," McGloin said. "You don't get this anywhere else … I think this was enough today. The guys that were here that were a little on the fence, I don't see how you could leave this place after today."

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