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Lettermen reunite ahead of late coach Joe Paterno's 50th anniversary of first game leading Penn State

Megan Ryan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1 week ago

About 500 lettermen descended on Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday night. The reunion coincides with former coach Joe Paterno’s 50th anniversary of his first game as head coach of Penn State — the school will honor him publicly for the first time since his firing in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal during the Temple game at noon Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

Sue Paterno, Paterno’s widow, put out this statement about the event:

“The Paterno family and the Lettermen's Committee will be hosting a Lettermen's reunion to honor the contributions Penn State Football Student-Athletes have made to the University and to society. The private event is to honor their achievements individually and as teammates at Penn State and in life. It honors the bonds of brotherhood and unity formed here and carried forward in the years since they left their Alma Mater. The event coincides with the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno's first game as head coach at Penn State. Consistent with the Penn State tradition of philanthropy, the event will also raise funds for a scholarship for graduating Penn State athletes to attend graduate school.”

Here’s what coach James Franklin had to say about the reunion:

“I think it’s great. That’s one of the things that makes us special is when we’re able to get this type of support, and guys come back that feel a real strong connection to the university and the football program. That’s something that myself, Terry [Smith], Wally Richardson and all of guys are continuing to build and work on those relationships. That’s something that’s very important. I’m glad all of those guys are going to be back in town and going to be at the game this weekend. That’s the type of support that’s made this place so special for so long.”

When asked about what Paterno signifies to him, however, and what he thinks about the in-game commemoration, Franklin swerved:

“I’ve stated this before. You know, all of the wonderful things that have happened here academically, all of the wonderful things that have happened here athletically, and in the community as well, those things have been significant, and I think I’ve stated that before. But my focus and our team’s focus is on Temple and the game this week. And all of those other decisions are for the administration. Our focus is on Temple.”

There was at least one protester at the event.

Franco Harris also shared his thoughts about Paterno being recognized.

And some prominent university officials also made an appearance.


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Nittany Lions News: Reads ahead of game one

Megan Ryan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3 weeks ago

It’s game week, y’all. So to kick it off right, here are some stories from around the Penn State beat to read.

The York Daily Record’s Frank Bodani has a story on receivers Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton and the perspective that helps both of them on the field. 

Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle writes about the defensive line and how it will ”tackle” inexperience.

It’s up-tempo. It’s no-huddle. The Centre Daily Times’ Jourdan Rodrigue delves into how Penn State’s new offense came to be.

And if you’re craving more about the offense, Mark Wogenrich of The Morning Call has you covered. The Morning Call also has a nice and succinct season forecast.

Here’s Pennlive’s Bob Flounders’ (so many apostrophes) story on newly minted quarterback Trace McSorley’s winning ways. Also from Pennlive, Penn State has a three-touchdown gap on Kent State, the odds-makers say.

Sean Fitz of Lions247 has a little ditty on walk-on d-lineman Ryan Monk.

Tweet or email me any other stories you read and liked. Also, don’t forget to tweet or email mryan@post-gazette.com your Penn State football or other questions to #YouveGotMailbag. Let’s try to get this thing off the ground by game one.


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Nittany Lions News: Reads from around the Penn State beat

Megan Ryan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1 month ago

While we wait for another practice availability Wednesday, here’s some links to reads around the Penn State beat to satisfy your Nittany Lions News Needs.

State College News’ Mike Poorman has this story on the relationship between redshirt sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley and coach James Franklin, plus some history on Franklin and his former QBs. 

The Daily Collegian’s Giana Han wrote this article on who will backup star sophomore running back Saquon Barkley — freshman Miles Sanders, redshirt sophomore Mark Allen or redshirt freshman Andre Robinson. Also from The Collegian, Andrew Rubin writes about how Barkley can grow this year and possibly help out on special teams. Support your local college newspapers, folks. It’s how the best of us get our starts (I’m talking about me, shoutout to The Minnesota Daily).

Pennlive has several reads, including Greg Pickel’s writeup on the possibility of a breakout season for sophomore corner John Reid. Pickel also talked to recent commit Pat Freiermuth about why the four-star tight end picked Penn State.

David Jones from Pennlive also takes a look at how unique it is in today’s college football landscape that Penn State will play both its in-state rivals this season in Pitt and Temple.

Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle wrote about the deep receiving group, but you need a subscription read it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

And finally, Tom Dienhart of the Big Ten Network fielded some questions after the network’s practice tour and addressed Penn State’s depth. 

Did I miss any good reads? Send them my way through email or Twitter. Also, don’t forget to send in your Penn State football and other questions to the #YouveGotMailbag. I only need one more to finally publish some answers, lmao.


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Read some Penn State football extra tidbits from preseason camp in between Olympic events

Megan Ryan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1 month ago

Take a break from the Olympics to read some extra tidbits from Penn State’s preseason camp practice today.

My story on the QB battle (yes, still) and the receiving corps will be in tomorrow’s paper (and online, obvs), but here’s some stuff that didn’t fit.

As far as that other position battle, that of middle linebacker of course, coach James Franklin said both junior Jason Cabinda and redshirt senior Nyeem Wartman-White are still competing for the job. Franklin said there’s not a whole lot of difference between the two, except that Wartman-White has a renowned football IQ (apparently), and Cabinda did a good job coming in clutch last season at mike when Wartman-White endured his season-ending knee injury in the season opener.

“To be honest with you, it’s really a situation right now where we think we have two guys that could play mike linebacker and that we could win with,” Franklin said. “Really the way we do it, those two guys are primarily box linebackers anyway. Typically, you’re on a hash in college football. You’re in the boundary. That guy’s typically going to hug the box anyway. ... We really look at those two positions really similar, but we feel good about it. We feel like it’s interchangeable.”

Franklin also talked about the interior defensive line and said it’s still ongoing as to who those starters will be. He mentioned redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Antoine White as someone who has jumped out at him. He also talked about redshirt junior DT Parker Cothren as someone who has had many reps this offseason. And while the coaching staff has heaped a lot of praise on redshirt freshman DT Kevin Givens in the past months, Franklin said Givens still has a lot of room for growth.

Junior DT Tyrell Chavis, the junior college transfer who joined the team late just ahead of camp because of academic issues, is settling in well, Franklin said. But Chavis isn’t in the same shape as the rest of the team who have been working out all summer with the Penn State staff.

“Trying to get him caught up as quickly as we possible can,” Franklin said. “It’s a difference, but we have no choice but to get him ready.”

All right, that’s all I’ve got for you right now. Also, I started this new feature called my #YouveGotMailbag (lmao, do you get it?). So every week, email or tweet me your Penn State football and other questions, and I’ll answer them every Thursday.

Ok, go back to the Olympics now.


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Zombies, skydiving and bus-pulling: How to commit in 2K16

Megan Ryan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2 months ago

I’m not even sorry about this ensuing blog post.

I took it upon myself today to take a deep dive into the recent phenomenon of commitment videos. Long gone are the days when prospective college football players would tweet a screenshot of a note on their iPhones, detailing how great the recruiting process has been, how grateful the players are for the schools/their coaches/their friends/their family, before deciding to continue their football career at [Name of School] [Said School’s Catchphrase].

Those quaint little ceremonies at players’ high schools where they put on the chosen school’s hat are a dying breed.

Now, it is about making a big production. As in film production. As in Acting. As in Cinematography. As in Friends and Family Becoming Momentary Movie Stars.

It’s incredibly extra and extremely outrageous, but we all love it, don’t lie to yourself.

I’m going to detail some of my faves I have found. Most are from Bleacher Report, which started its high-quality short films last year, I believe.

Kai-Leon Herbert to Michigan

This one just came out yesterday, and it is easily the best one yet. The Walking Dead and football recruiting just go hand-in-hand, don’t they? I’d like to know what the other schools he was considering think of Herbert viciously killing their zombie counterparts. But a million kudos for the creativity.

Deontay Anderson to Ole Miss

He went skydiving! Can you believe?! I’m a morbid person, so I just keep thinking about how terribly this could have ended. Again, would like to know what his future coaches think of this risky behavior, lmao.

Parker Boudreaux to Notre Dame

Can you believe he pulled a 16,000-pound school bus? Can you?

Nigel Knott to Alabama

NO QUESTIONS. Yeah, who cares about the media?

Quinn Nordin to Penn State ... er, JK

I couldn’t help myself. No. 1, this is so bougie, can you believe (sorry that can you believe is my unofficial slogan). And No. 2, he decommitted and went to Michigan. You would think he would have tried to get this video taken down, but I digress.

Also, I was going to make a joke about remembering how I made a video to announce my college decision back in the day, but Bleacher Report is more self-aware than I expected. (Side note, I applied to one school, the in-state public one, and delayed accepting as long as I could because I was Chris “I don’t play sports, I do plays” Evans).

And here’s some honorable mentions for y’all:

The Hollywood sign

The flaming paw of death in the sky

The plane over Atlantic City

The very fake Times Square billboard

The graffiti that I hope is real and still there

The symbolism of Matt Dotson leaping over a Penn State guy on his way to committing to Michigan State

There are more, oh, so more, out there. So happy Google searching. I also need to share this distressing one from an aspiring journalist from my home state, who not only snubbed my alma mater and my beat, but, in fact, chose Missouri. Sigh.

I hope this has been entertaining for everyone. It certainly was for me. Email or tweet me your personal favorites or any I might have missed. Now I’ve got to focus on my actual story for tomorrow about the new and very on-trend Power-Five initiative, Flex 21 (Now my whole team flexin’).


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