Nittany Lions begin spring football practice

March 25, 2008

 

University Park, Pa. — For the third consecutive year, the Penn State football team is riding the momentum of a bowl victory as on-field preparations for the 2008 campaign began Monday (March 24) with the opening of spring practice.

Since classes resumed in mid-January, the Lasch Football Building and Holuba Hall have been hubs of activity, with the Nittany Lions hard at work with off-season weight training and conditioning. Penn State will culminate its 15 allotted spring practices with the highly-anticipated Blue-White Game in Beaver Stadium on Saturday, April 19. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. and admission and parking are free as in previous years.

A little more than four months after the Blue-White game, Penn State opens its 122nd campaign, hosting non-conference opponents Coastal Carolina (Aug. 30) and Oregon State (Sept. 6) before visiting old rival Syracuse on Sept. 13. The Nittany Lions begin their 16th season of Big Ten Conference competition on Sept. 27, hosting Illinois.

Penn State has won 31 of its last 40 games overall, with its victory total tied for eighth-best nationally over that span. During the past three seasons, the Nittany Lions have won the 2006 FedEx Orange Bowl, the 2007 Outback Bowl and the 2007 Valero Alamo Bowl.

In his 43rd season as head coach, Joe Paterno welcomes back 37 letterwinners and 17 starters from last year's 9-4 team that defeated Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl. Penn State was ranked in the final Top 25 polls for the 33rd time under Paterno (No. 25 USA Today Coaches).

Penn State returns 19 letterwinners on defense (seven starters), 16 on offense (eight starters), and placekicker Kevin Kelly and punter Jeremy Boone. The Nittany Lions have lost the services of 21 lettermen for spring drills -- 12 on offense, eight on defense and three specialists.

Among the returning starters are three players who earned All-America or All-Big Ten recognition in 2007: junior punter Boone (Mechanicsburg), a first team All-Big Ten choice; junior defensive end Maurice Evans (Brooklyn, N.Y.), a first team All-Big Ten selection and finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award; senior linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh), an All-Big Ten pick who was the Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP; senior guard Rich Ohrnberger (East Meadow, N.Y.), a second team team all-conference honoree and senior center A.Q. Shipley (Coraopolis), who was first team All-Big Ten and joined Lee on ESPN.com's All-Bowl Team.

Among the key players to replaced are: two-time All-America linebacker Dan Connor, the 2007 Chuck Bednarik Award winner; first team All-Big Ten cornerback Justin King; tailback Rodney Kinlaw, who ran for 1,329 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and record-setting quarterback Anthony Morelli.

The Blue-White Game is one of the nation's most popular spring football contests. Last year, a record crowd of 71,000 attended the game and other Blue-White Weekend activities. More than 40,000 loyal and enthusiastic Penn State fans have attended the contest in nine of the past 12 years, with rainy conditions during the other three contests.

This year's Blue-White Weekend welcomes the Gridiron BashTMThe Ultimate Fan CompetitionTM, featuring the first-ever concert inside Beaver Stadium and American Music Award Female Performer of the Year, Fergie. Gridiron Bash pits 16 schools in the USA TODAY Bash for Cash SeriesTM, which will result in the winning university adding $1 million to its general scholarship fund. The winner is determined by total ticket sales to the concert, as well as a combination of text and online votes cast for each school.

Currently, Penn State is in third place, and will continue battling with Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Auburn, Iowa, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, and West Virginia, as well as several other schools.

Tickets for the Gridiron BashTM are available online at: www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or www.gridironbash.com, as well as via phone at 814-865-5555 during regular business hours Monday - Friday.

Gridiron Bash activities - including a two-day carnival, complete with rides, treats and eats -- are expected to begin outside Beaver Stadium at 6:00 p.m on Friday, April 18, with festivities inside the stadium kicking off at 7:00 p.m. Numerous events will be held during Blue-White Weekend to celebrate Penn State Football, including the popular pre-game autograph session with the players on Saturday at approximately 12:30 p.m., with the game at 2:00 p.m.

The Blue-White Game can be heard on the Penn State Sports Network and GoPSUsports.com, the official website of Penn State Athletics.

Other events for Penn State fans all of ages held in conjunction with the Blue-White Game will be announced in early April.

Season tickets and Club seats are available for the 2008 season. The Nittany Lions will face eight teams that played in bowl games in 2007, including five at home: Oregon State (Sept. 6), Illinois (Sept. 27), Michigan (Oct. 18-Homecoming), Indiana (Nov. 15) and Michigan State (Nov. 22).

For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, interested parties can call 1-800-648-8269 (1-800-NITTANY). For additional information on club seats, call 863-3143 in the Centre Region and ask for Bob White.

  • Wide receiver Deon Butler will look to help lead the Penn State offense in 2008.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010