University Park, Pa. — The Penn State football team will begin on-field preparations for the 2010 campaign on Friday 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 presented by AAA on Saturday, April 24. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. The contest will air on ESPN2, the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com.
Admission and parking for the Blue-White Game presented by AAA are free as in previous years.
A little more than four months after the Blue-White tilt, Joe Paterno's 45th Penn State squad will open the Nittany Lions' 124th campaign, hosting Youngstown State on Sept. 4. The Lions renew their rivalry with Alabama, the 2009 BCS national champion, on Sept. 11 in Tuscaloosa. Penn State begins its 18th season of Big Ten Conference competition on Oct. 2, visiting Iowa.
The Nittany Lions earned their second consecutive 11-2 record last season, capped by a win over LSU in the Capital One Bowl, Penn State's fourth bowl victory in the past five seasons. The Nittany Lions were No. 8 in the final USA Today Coaches poll and No. 9 in the Associated Press survey, earning their 23rd final Top 10 ranking under the Hall of Fame coach. Penn State is 51-13 (79.7) since the start of the 2005 season, tied for the nation's No. 7 winning percentage over that span. The Nittany Lions have won 53 of their last 66 games overall, dating to the final two games of the 2004 season.
The Nittany Lions return 37 letterwinners for the 2010 season, including 13 starters (7 offense, 5 defense, 1 specialist), as well as 11 players that have starting experience. The 11 additional players with previous starts have a combined total of 35 amongst them.
Penn State returns 18 letterwinners on defense (five starters), 17 on offense (seven starters) and placekicker Collin Wagner, as well redshirt sophomore linebacker Michael Mauti, who missed last season with a knee injury. The Nittany Lions have lost the services of 21 lettermen for the 2010 campaign - 10 on defense, 9 on offense and two specialists.
Among the returnees are two Nittany Lions who have earned All-Big Ten recognition. Senior tailback Evan Royster (Fairfax, Va.) garnered first-team all-conference accolades in 2009 and was a second-team choice in 2008 as well as a Doak Walker Award semifinalist. Royster has posted consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons and has 2,918 career yards, needing 481 to break Curt Warner's school record of 3,398.
Senior center Stefen Wisniewski (Bridgeville) also was a first-team
all-conference selection last year and earned second-team All-Big Ten
honors at guard in 2008. He was selected a third-team All-American by
Collegefootballnews.com and Pro Football Weekly last season. Wisniewski
was a first team Academic All-American last year and earned second team
accolades in 2008. A student in the Schreyer Honors College, Wisniewski
owned a 3.90 cumulative grade point average entering the spring
semester and has an opportunity to become Penn State's first three-time
Five Nittany Lions that earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades last season also return: junior safety Drew Astorino (Ediboro), junior defensive end Jack Crawford (Longport, N.J.), junior cornerback D'Anton Lynn (Celina, Texas), junior wide receiver Derek Moye (Rochester) and senior defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu (Staten Island, N.Y.).
A member of the Penn State coaching staff since 1950, Paterno is the all-time wins leader among major college coaches, owning a career record to 394-129-3. He ranks second in winning percentage (75.2) among active Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) coaches with 10 or more years as an FBS head coach. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops leads with an 80.1 mark (117-29), followed by Paterno, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier (72.1), Alabama's Nick Saban (71.1) and Texas coach Mack Brown (67.9).
Since Paterno became head coach in 1966, there have been 860 head coaching changes in Division I-A football, an average of more than six changes per institution, including 22 changes after the 2009 season.
Season tickets are available for the 2010 season. The Nittany Lions will face seven teams that played in bowl games last year, including three at home. Among the teams coming to Beaver Stadium this fall are: Michigan (Oct. 30), Northwestern (Nov. 6), Illinois (Oct. 9-Homecoming), Michigan State (Nov. 27), Temple (Sept. 25) and Kent State (Sept. 18).
In addition to games at Alabama, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio State, Penn State will play just its second neutral site Big Ten contest when it meets Indiana on Nov. 20 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. The Nittany Lions will be playing in metropolitan Washington, D.C. for the first time since an October 2, 1993 contest at Maryland.
FedEx Field, which opened in 1997 and has a seating capacity of 91,704, is the largest venue used by a professional sports team in the United States. Nittany Lion Club members can purchase tickets now and the general public can purchase tickets starting on Monday, March 29 at www.GoPSUsports.com or 1-800-NITTANY.
For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can call (800) 648-8269 (1-800-NITTANY).