September 26, 2014 |
STATE COLLEGE - Last season, heralded true freshman Christian Hackenberg started every game under center for the Nittany Lions, enduring the ebb and flow that comes with an 18-year-old calling the shots. Fortunately for the Virginia native, there was experience on offense, like wide receiver Allen Robinson and a senior-heavy offensive line, to guide him. Now, leading one of the youngest teams in major college football, Hackenberg feels like roles have reversed. "Last year, everyone was being patient with me," Hackenberg said.
September 24, 2014 |
Pat Fitzgerald last led his Northwestern football team into Beaver Stadium in 2012, only a few months after the NCAA slapped Penn State with harsh sanctions that could have left the players and coaches in disarray. But Fitzgerald saw the focus of the team firsthand, led by the Nittany Lions' strong senior class and coach Bill O'Brien. The Lions rallied from 11 down with a 22-point fourth quarter and defeated the Wildcats, 39-28, for their fourth straight win after an 0-2 start. Penn State finished the season 8-4. The Wildcats return Saturday to State College to meet an undefeated and happier Penn State team that now can play in the postseason and will get all of its scholarships back next year.
September 19, 2014 |
Penn State fans knew at the start of the 2014 football season that they would have to wait for the Nittany Lions to develop their running game before it became somewhat proficient. The Lions are entering Week 4 Saturday against Massachusetts, and the fans are still waiting. However, the advice from senior tailback Bill Belton is basically: Don't despair, we're going to get this right very soon. "I don't think we're that far away at all," the former Winslow Township High star said Wednesday.
September 11, 2014 |
When football recruiting experts, real or imagined, attach a ranking or stars to a recruit, they're really setting odds. The more stars, the better the odds of a payoff for the school that lands the recruit. That's all it is. In football, more than most sports, evaluating 15- and 16-year-olds, trying to figure what kind of player they'll be at age 21, is a tough and risky business. In addition to the inherent danger of the sport, that's why Division I football teams get so many scholarships.
September 10, 2014 |
Former Penn State cornerback Stephon Morris recalls July 23, 2012, the day the sanctions were laid down on the program, as if it occurred just yesterday. "I remember we were in the players' lounge, and when they announced it, you just saw so many faces look so distraught," said Morris, a senior that season. "But we were just thinking, 'How are we going to get out of this? What are we going to do to make this situation better?' " While the first two seasons of the "sanction era" under coach Bill O'Brien resulted in better finishes than many expected (a combined 15-9)
September 6, 2014 |
To say that Sam Ficken has seen it all in his four seasons at Penn State is not an overstatement. NCAA sanctions thrust him into a starting role. He missed four field-goal attempts in a game and received death threats. He made a school-record 15 consecutive field goals. He had some rough sledding late in the 2013 season. And on Saturday, he went 4 for 4 on field-goal attempts, including the game-winning 36-yarder that saw him run like a frightened jackrabbit away from the celebratory hordes of teammates but not a crushing bear hug from coach James Franklin.
August 29, 2014 |
DUBLIN - It was supposed to be O'Brien against O'Leary in Ireland. But that would have been too perfect, right? Instead of the ultimate Irish matchup, James Franklin's Nittany Lions will face George O'Leary's Knights, as Penn State and Central Florida open their seasons in Dublin at Croke Park at 8:30 a.m. (EDT) tomorrow. After taking over for Bill O'Brien in January, Franklin has won several battles on the recruiting trail, but has not yet competed on the sideline. Tomorrow affords him that opportunity.
August 28, 2014
Sources have confirmed reports that wide receiver Richy Anderson, one of four players who left Penn State's program in June, has transferred to Temple. A son of the former Nittany Lions running back and 13-year NFL veteran Richie Anderson, who is the running backs coach for the Dallas Cowboys, Richy had 13 receptions for 111 yards in 11 games last season as a true freshman. PSU, of course, has a new coach, with former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin replacing Bill O'Brien (Houston Texans)
August 28, 2014 |
The Penn State traveling party to Ireland included more than 300 people, about 20,000 pounds of gear, and some lingering questions in anticipation of the Nittany Lions' season opener and head coach James Franklin's first game Saturday as the team's head coach. The questions concerned competitions for starting positions at left guard and cornerback,the number of true freshmen who will play, and how the new offensive and defensive schemes will work against an experienced Central Florida team.
August 27, 2014 |
FOUR OR FIVE years ago, college assistants frequented Winslow Township High to recruit one of South Jersey's most dynamic prep football players. Oregon offered the kid a scholarship, as did Florida and South Carolina, of the vaunted SEC, and other tradition-laden programs such as Nebraska and Wisconsin. In the end, Penn State landed Bill Belton, but not for the lack of other schools' attempts. Maryland, for instance, put on the fullcourt press, a recruiting nugget worth mentioning years later, only because of the young assistants who led the effort on behalf of the Terrapins.