Penn State

Beat writer Donnie Collins keeps you posted with in-depth analysis and commentary

Lions introduce “retro” unis

Penn State will look a little bit different when it hosts Indiana at Beaver Stadium on Sept. 30.

Not completely different, mind you. But different.

The program unveiled a retro uniform Thursday, and it will be worn for the Indiana game, which has been labeled as a “Generations of Greatness” celebration.

Check out the video for a look:

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Generally, I don’t like the throwback uniform fad — unless it’s a throwback uniform that never should have changed in the first place — but this one is really sharp. It’s not like an Oregon thing, where you’d have to do some research to determine it’s Oregon playing half the time. This is a really good homage to a lot of neat uniform twists the Nittany Lions have used over the years. Wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a uniform they wear quite a bit.

Top Jersey prospect commits to Nittany Lions

I spent my Sunday covering a NASCAR race, but Penn State made some news this weekend by getting a verbal commitment from defensive end Dorian Hardy.

Lions247 has a pretty cool look at the moment the New Jersey product let Penn State coaches know of his decision. It’s no wonder they were so pumped up.

Just a few days after losing QB Justin Fields — the second five-star recruit to back away from his Penn State commitment in the 2018 class — the Nittany Lions wound up bagging a consensus four-star prospect who 247 sports ranks in its top 160 prospects in the nation.

Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN all have him ranked in that general area, as well.

Penn State needed a big get, and it needed one on the defensive line. Harrisburg’s Micah Parsons, the other five-star who opted to reopen his recruitment, had been the only commitment at the position in the upcoming class.

Penn State loses another major recruit

Six weeks ago, Penn State lost a five-star recruit at a position of need when Harrisburg High School defensive end Micah Parsons announced he was planning to reopen his recruitment.

The one-time top recruiting class in the nation lost another big piece of the future puzzle on Tuesday night.

Quarterback Justin Fields, a quarterback from Georgia who has been skyrocketing up prospect lists and recruiting rankings since he committed to Penn State in December, announced he too would be opening up his recruitment.

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247sports ranked Fields as the No. 6 overall prospect in the nation and the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation.

Florida and Florida State recently offered Fields scholarships, and home-state Georgia is also in the running. But, Fields said Penn State will still be among the top contenders.

Lions to kick in close-to prime time against Georgia State

Lions to kick in close-to prime time against Georgia State

Just when you thought your Saturday nights were going to be free in the fall…

Big Ten Network announced its first three weeks worth of game coverage today, and the Nittany Lions will appear once on the network in that span, on Sept. 16 against Georgia State at Beaver Stadium.

The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m.

The Nittany Lions’ scheduled game times have come out in bits and pieces over the last few weeks, and it has been interesting, to say the least.

Few probably figured the Georgia State game would be a nighttime tilt, and it turns out to be the first night game officially announced (though, we can presume, the Oct. 21 game against Michigan at Beaver Stadium will likely be a later start at the very least since it has been announced as a White Out).

So far, Penn State officially has three noon starts (Sept. 2 vs. Akron; Oct. 7 at Northwestern; Nov. 11 vs. Rutgers), and two 3:30 p.m. contests (Sept. 9 vs. Pitt and Oct. 28 at Ohio State) on the slate.

The start times for games at Iowa, Michigan State and Maryland and home tilts vs. Indiana and Nebraska — in addition to Michigan — are still to be announced.

Pitt announces start time for battle with Lions at Beaver Stadium

It may be Penn State’s home game, but it’s Pittsburgh’s announcement: The Nittany Lions and Panthers will kick off their highly anticipated rematch at Beaver Stadium on Sept. 9 at 3:30.

It will be the nationally televised game on ABC.

The Panthers and Lions played a classic last season, with Pitt edging Penn State, 42-39 on Sept. 10.

Former Lackawanna, PSU DL Thrift finds new home

Brenon Thrift’s long collegiate journey is making perhaps its final stop in Morgantown, W.V.

The former Lackawanna College star, who spent last season at Penn State before opting to transfer, will evidently play this season at West Virginia, given that he’s on the Mountaineers’ roster.

A defensive tackle, Thrift was a surprise addition to Penn State’s 2016 recruiting class out of Lackawanna, where he starred as a defensive lineman after converting from linebacker, where he played during his freshman season at Temple. Thrift still has two seasons of eligibility.

The defensive tackle situation at Penn State is slated to be pretty competitive over the next few years though, and it is thought that the likelihood of little playing time drove Thrift from Happy Valley. But the fact that he wound up at West Virginia probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Lackawanna has a strong relationship with West Virginia, and has for years. I believe he’ll be the fourth former Falcon on the Mountaineers roster, joining the White brothers, WR Ka’Raun and safety Kyzir, and TE Trevon Wesco as ex-Lackawanna stars who will suit up this fall for the Mountaineers.

Where the Nittany Lions (and some local products) have landed after the Draft…so far

Where the Nittany Lions (and some local products) have landed after the Draft…so far

Former Wyoming Valley West and Penn State standout receiver Eugene Lewis is getting a shot to play professional football with the Cincinnati Bengals. Associated Press photo.

So, the 2017 NFL Draft came and went over the weekend like a rotating rainstorm inching its way up the coast, and only one Penn State player got selected among the 253 players that got their names announced from Thursday through Saturday nights.

Penn State’s leading receiver the last two seasons, Godwin went 84th overall in the third round to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And that’s not so bad, really. Some — including yours truly — figured he could go in the second round. But he ended up in a good spot, in a nice city, with a team that has a decent young quarterback and a star No. 1 receiver and a veteran (DeSean Jackson) to learn from.

But, the Nittany Lions’ run to the NFL didn’t end when the Draft did.

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Donnie Collins’ 1st-Round mock NFL Draft

Donnie Collins’ 1st-Round mock NFL Draft

Penn State WR Chris Godwin will certainly be the first Nittany Lions player selected in the NFL Draft, which starts tonight. But where will he go, and can he sneak into the first round? Associated Press Photo

Well, tonight’s the night the top draft-eligible players in college football get to find out where they will start their professional careers. I don’t see the point of putting too much stock into mock drafts, because one trade messes them up, and it’s impossible to predict every trade. But mock drafts sure are fun, and they give a look at the players who can be considered first-round possibilities.

So, I’ll run down my selections for the first round, and then give my thoughts on which Penn State players will get drafted, and where they’ll go.

1. Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

I actually agree with Warren Sapp when it comes to Garrett, but I still think he’ll go No. 1 overall. And, I really believe he should. Does he have a great motor? No. But the Browns aren’t contending next year anyway. This is a perfect spot to take a player who needs some development, some coaching, and maybe a dose of reality that his pure athleticism can only carry him so far. Garrett is far more explosive as a pass rusher than Solomon Thomas or Jonathan Allen, and the Browns have not been a threat to opposing quarterbacks in years. Garrett could easily flop if he doesn’t improve his technique. But athletically speaking, Garrett is the total package.

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Tackle prospect with Scranton ties gets PSU offer

Tackle prospect with Scranton ties gets PSU offer

Penn State has made a little bit of headway in recent years in our area recruiting Lackawanna College’s much-respected football program, and it looks like it is all in on one of the Falcons’ top 2018 prospects.

T.J. Bradley, a 6-foot-9 offensive tackle who has made big strides in the last year since joining the program, was offered a scholarship by Penn State today after making a visit to the University Park campus for the Blue-White Game this past weekend.

Bradley has offers now from the Nittany Lions, Maryland, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Minnesota and Syracuse, so it’s a pretty good list in the early going.

Penn State is pushing hard for offensive tackles in the 2018 class, and the offer goes out to Bradley after Penn State got verbal commitments from a pair of highly rated tackles, Nana Asiedu and Antwan Reed, on Saturday.

Bradley doesn’t have a star rating yet — he’s still pretty new to the recruiting scene — but he’s an intriguing prospect, partly because of his size and quick feet (he also was a pretty decent high school basketball prospect). There’s also the Lackawanna pedigree that goes along with him, and coach Mark Duda and his staff have done a good job finding raw offensive linemen (i.e., Paris Palmer) and turning them into pretty good players, pretty quickly.

Bradley is a good example of that. Here’s a look at him in Lackawanna’s 2016 Spring Practices as a defensive end:

And, here he is almost a year later working on the offensive line:

As you can see, the technique has come a long way, and when you consider that he just hasn’t played much football compared to other prospects, the imagination can run wild on what he might wind up becoming down the road.

Good offer for PSU, but it has a fight on its hands with Maryland and West Virginia, which have been in the mix a little bit longer. The Mountaineers also have a really, really tight working relationship with Lackawanna, so that might be the program to beat. But, it’s early. Lot of decisions to make for Bradley, and a lot of offers likely to still roll in.

PSU taking football, life one moment at a time

PSU taking football, life one moment at a time

On Sunday, I published a column written off the aftermath of Saturday’s Blue-White Game, in which Penn State head coach James Franklin insisted the Nittany Lions would have to put the 2016 Big Ten Championship win into their own personal history books, and firmly out of mind, if they wanted to attain even more lofty goals in 2017.

Franklin used the term “forget” to describe what the Nittany Lions have to do with that 2016 championship, and that’s probably a strong word. Franklin might admit that, too. It’s not possible to put a season like that in the past, after all. And to forget that it happened is to forget, largely, that it was accomplished in the first place. Sometimes — OK, most times — it’s best to feel like you’re the team that accomplished more than your opponent.

So, perhaps the personification of the mindset Penn State needs to take next season can best be summed up by an experience they had on Friday night, when the Nittany Lions players and coaches had an opportunity to be addressed by former linebacker Tim Shaw, who is currently battling Lou Gherig’s Disease.

“Tim Shaw came (Friday) and spoke to our team, and it may be one the greatest, most powerful speeches I’ve ever heard,” Franklin said. “As a father, my daughters will see this. We videotaped it. As a coach, it was the message you want your team to hear. Really, his message is that the disease he is fighting is a gift that he is given. He has been given the gift of perspective.”

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