Nittany Lions open training camp today for 127th campaign

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State football team resumes preparations for its 127th season today (Aug. 5) when it hits the practice field for the start of training camp. Led by head coach Bill O’Brien, 16 starters and 37 letterwinners return for the Nittany Lions, who open the campaign Aug. 31 vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

During his first season as head coach, O’Brien directed Penn State to wins in eight of its final 10 games, earning 8-4 overall and 6-2 Big Ten records, capped by a Senior Day overtime win over eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin. O’Brien was named the Bear Bryant, Maxwell Football Club and ESPN National Coach of the Year and the Big Ten-Dave McClain Coach of the Year for his efforts.

Syracuse is the first of eight Penn State opponents this season who played in a bowl game last year, with five of the contests in Beaver Stadium. Three teams that finished in the 2012 BCS Top 25 will visit Happy Valley: Michigan (Oct. 12-Homecoming, 5 p.m.), Nebraska (Nov. 23) and Kent State (Sept. 21).

"I am excited to get started on Monday,” O’Brien stated. “We have a fantastic group of players, and it’s a team that has good chemistry. There are leaders in every class. We have a great coaching staff and there is a strong connection and a lot of respect between our staff and our kids. I feel really good about the unity of the team. We have a tough, resilient group of players who have had a great summer and everyone can’t wait to get training camp started.”

Twenty-five players with starting experience return for the Nittany Lions. O’Brien and the coaching staff will schedule the opening week of the 29 allotted practices around the last five days of classes and final exams for Penn State's second summer academic session. Final exams are Aug. 9 and the initial two-a-day practices begin Aug. 10, which is the first day the team can practice in full pads.

A maximum of 105 players at NCAA colleges and universities are permitted to participate in football training camp. Additional players can begin practice with the team on the first day of classes for the fall semester (Aug. 26 at Penn State).

The Nittany Lions return 19 letterwinners on offense, including eight starters, and have six additional players with starting experience. Penn State led the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) in conference games and was second in scoring offense (32.6 ppg) and second in pass offense (283.1 ypg) against Big Ten foes during the 2012 season. The Nittany Lions eclipsed 500 yards in total offense in three Big Ten games.

The Penn State defense returns 16 letterwinners and six starters, as well as linebacker Mike Hull and defensive end C.J. Olaniyan, who have starting experience and were projected starters after spring practice. The Nittany Lions ranked second in the Big Ten and No. 16 nationally in scoring defense at 19.1 ppg last season, holding six teams to 17 or fewer points.

Senior punter Alex Butterworth and junior placekicker Sam Ficken also return.

The Nittany Lions return three players who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season and two who were individual award winners. Junior Allen Robinson (Southfield, Mich.) was selected the Big Ten Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year and first team All-Big Ten after breaking the school season receptions record with 77 catches. Sophomore tight end Kyle Carter (Bear, Del.) and fifth-year senior guard John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.) also earned first-team all-conference accolades. Defensive end Deion Barnes (Philadelphia) was the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Penn State has pre-season candidates for nine individual awards thus far entering the 2013 season: Bednarik (DE Deion Barnes), Biletnikoff (WR Allen Robinson), Butkus (LB Glenn Carson), Mackey (TE Kyle Carter), Maxwell (RB Zach Zwinak), Nagurski (DE Deion Barnes) Outland (DT DaQuan Jones and G John Urschel), Rotary Lombardi (G John Urschel) and Doak Walker (RB Zach Zwinak).

Fans will get an inside look at the Nittany Lions’ preparations through a series of "All-Access" specials across ESPN platforms later this month. "ESPN All-Access: Penn State Training Days" will showcase behind-the-scenes access to on- and off-field activities, team meetings and campus facilities and culminate in a one-hour ESPN special at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20. In addition, Penn State vignettes will be shown during "College Football Live," "SportsCenter" and multiple ESPNU shows, beginning Aug. 16. A five-part series consisting of 30-minute specials on ESPNU will begin 6 p.m. Aug. 21.

Penn State football season and single tickets are available. Ticket purchases and information is available at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets. Fans also can call 800-NITTANY (648-8269) from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays or stop by the Bryce Jordan Ticket Center.

Pre-paid single game parking passes for the general parking lots are also available at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets. General parking purchased in advance is $10, while paying to park on game day when arriving to the general lots will cost $40.

Penn State Athletics is on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pennstatenittanylions) and Twitter (http://www.gopsusports.com/ot/socialmedia.html).

Contacts: 

Jeff Nelson

Work Phone: 
814-865-1757
Last Updated August 16, 2013