February 5, 2015 |
When Glassboro High School's Juwan Johnson first talked about Penn State with a member of former coach Bill O'Brien's staff, the tone of the presentation left him "not that interested" and figuring he'd have to find another place to play college football. But when James Franklin took over the helm of the Nittany Lions in January last year and accompanied wide receiver coach Josh Gattis to South Jersey for their first meeting with Johnson, everything changed. "The thing was, they're really fresh, they're really energetic," said the 6-foot-4, 205-pound wide receiver, who is one of 22 players expected to sign national letters of intent Wednesday with Penn State.
February 5, 2015 |
STATE COLLEGE - On Jan. 11, 2014, James Franklin made a promise. "We are going to dominate the state," the coach said without blinking an eye. "Dominate the state" - it's been hashtagged on Twitter and printed on T-shirts since Franklin's introductory news conference as the Nittany Lions' football coach, and, while many have overused or overblown the motto, it wasn't an empty claim. Franklin put himself and his staff out on a limb, but, as long as there aren't any surprises today on National Signing Day, he'll have the results to back up that promise.
January 2, 2015 |
ONE OF THE interesting aspects of the reported rift between Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and coach Chip Kelly is that it is Roseman who is generally credited with continuing the pursuit of Kelly after he originally turned down the Eagles' overtures 2 years ago. The Eagles, you may recall, had a carousel of coaches either interview for the job or turn down similar overtures - Gus Bradley, Doug Marrone and Bill O'Brien, then a coach at Penn State,...
December 28, 2014 |
NEW YORK - Despite traveling a bumpy road trying to navigate his team through a season with fewer scholarship players than any of its opponents, first-year Penn State head coach James Franklin has managed to keep the same enthusiasm he displayed when he was hired. By and large, the Penn State fan base has been pleased by the promise Franklin has shown, particularly in the recruiting area that has set the Nittany Lions up well for the future, and maybe not as much by the fact the Lions are 2-6 after a 4-0 start and could finish below .500 if they don't defeat Boston College Saturday in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
December 24, 2014 |
NEW YORK - National signing day for Christian Hackenberg was more than six months away when the NCAA hammered Penn State in July 2012 with harsh sanctions. The penalties included a four-year bowl ban that would have prevented the Virginia high school phenom to play in the postseason until his senior year. In the end, Hackenberg ignored overtures from other head coaches, honored his commitment to Bill O'Brien and signed with the Nittany Lions. A lot has happened since then, including a coaching change, but the best development for the team came in September when the NCAA lifted the bowl ban. So instead of waiting two more years, Hackenberg will make his bowl debut on Saturday when the Lions take on Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
December 11, 2014 |
NEW YORK - Shane Conlan likely would not have been the 23d member of the Penn State football program inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame if not for assistant coach Tom Bradley. Conlan, a linebacker, had received no offers from any NCAA Division I-A school during a fine career at Frewsburg Central (N.Y.) High School until Bradley came calling, and the longtime assistant to Joe Paterno remained persistent and finally persuaded his boss to offer him a scholarship.
October 31, 2014 |
Bill O'Brien feels at home again. That probably sounds like a silly thing to say about a guy from New England who left a job in State College, Pa., for one deep in the heart of Texas. Home for O'Brien, however, is not so much about location as it is the level of football he is coaching. He showed a lot of courage in January 2012 when he left his job as the New England Patriots offensive coordinator to take over a storied college program that had shockingly spiraled out of control.
October 29, 2014 |
STATE COLLEGE - Former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley spent more than 3 decades at Penn State. About one-third of that time was spent with Larry Johnson by his side. In their time on the staff, Bradley, now an assistant head coach at West Virginia, and Johnson helped forge dominating defenses. "When we worked together, it was always about the team," Bradley said. The same remains true for Johnson, even though that team is no longer Penn State. From 1996 to 2013, Johnson roamed the Beaver Stadium sideline as an assistant coach.
October 22, 2014 |
Larry Johnson earned a reputation as an outstanding recruiter, an elite defensive line coach, and an excellent role model for college football players during his 18 seasons as a Penn State assistant - 16 to Joe Paterno and two to Bill O'Brien. But when the athletic administration of the university looked to hire a new head coach, officials twice passed over him in favor of O'Brien in 2012 and James Franklin last January. Johnson then said goodbye to Happy Valley, not knowing where his next job would be. A new job, however, surfaced almost immediately when Ohio State coach Urban Meyer asked him to become assistant head coach and defensive line coach, meaning fans of Johnson over the years will be shaking their heads Saturday night to see him on the visitors sideline at Beaver Stadium wearing the scarlet and gray of the Buckeyes.
October 18, 2014 |
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The first time his father made the trip for a spring football game, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen warned him about the drive, that it would be a rural one from the airport in Jackson up to Starkville. Mullen told him it would be like traveling in the hills of Pennsylvania "past the Main Line. " The 42-year-old coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the improbable top-ranked college football team in the nation - after the fastest rise to the top in the history of the sport, from unranked to No. 1 in six games - is a Drexel Hill native and Ursinus College graduate.