New head coach Bill O'Brien and his staff will direct the Nittany Lions through 15 spring practices in preparation for Penn State's 126th campaign overall and its 20th as a member of the Big Ten Conference.
Since classes resumed in mid-January, the Lasch Football Building, Holuba Hall and the outdoor turf practice field have been hubs of activity, with the Nittany Lions hard at work with off-season strength training and conditioning. Squad members have participated in 5:30 a.m. conditioning sessions twice a week and lifted four times a week under the guidance of Craig Fitzgerald, the new Director of Strength and Conditioning for Football.
Penn State will culminate spring practice with the highly anticipated Blue-White Game presented by AAA on Saturday, April 21. Kickoff is at 2:00 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. The contest will air on 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. The morning of the game, O'Brien, Lady Lion basketball coach Coquese Washington and the 2012 football seniors will be special guests at the Nittany Lion Club's Blue-White Event. For more information or to purchase tickets, fans can call 814-865-5555.
"We have a really hard-working team.," O'Brien said. "It is a team that shows up on time, puts time in and works extra. We've got a lot of really good kids to work with. Now, we've got to watch them play football. It is a clean slate for everybody in this program. On Monday, we will have a chance to start watching them play football.
"Winter conditioning has been great, but I can't wait to get out there," O'Brien added about the start of spring drills.
A little more than four months after the Blue-White tilt, the Nittany Lions will play the first of their program record 10 bowl teams when they host Ohio on Sept. 1. Penn State will face five bowl teams from the 2011 season at home and all five road games will be against bowl teams from last season.
Penn State returns 37 letterwinners and 10 starters for the 2012 season (5 offense, 4 defense, 1 specialist), as well as 17 players that have starting experience. The 17 additional players with starting experience have a combined total of 78 starts (44 defense/34 offense) among them.
Among the returnees are five Nittany Lions who earned All-Big Ten recognition in 2011. Senior linebacker Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro, N.J.) was selected 2011 first-team All-Big Ten and junior placekicker/punter Anthony Fera (Cypress, Texas) and junior tailback Silas Redd (Norwalk, Conn.) were selected second-team all-conference. Senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill (Steelton) was honorable-mention All-Big Ten and senior linebacker Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) was a pre-season first-team all-conference choice but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth game.
Season tickets are available for the 2012 season. The Nittany Lions will host Ohio State (Oct. 27), Wisconsin (Nov. 24-Senior Day), Northwestern (Oct. 6-Homecoming), Indiana (Nov. 17), Navy (Sept. 15), Temple (Sept. 22) and Ohio (Sept. 1) in Beaver Stadium this fall. Penn State will visit Virginia (Sept. 8) and play Big Ten games at Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Purdue.
For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can call 1-800-648-8269 (1-800-NITTANY) weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Nittany Lions were 2011 Big Ten Leaders Division co-champions and played in their fourth consecutive New Year's bowl game and 44th bowl overall. The winners of the Leaders and Legends Divisions will play in the Big Ten Championship game, Dec. 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Since the start of the 2005 season, Penn State has earned a 67-23 (74.4) record, good for the No. 13 winning percentage among the nation's 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams. Over the past seven years, the Nittany Lions have won two Big Ten Championships, won four bowl games and played in six New Year's or Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games. The Nittany Lions' 827 all-time victories rank No. 5 in the nation and their 27 bowl wins are third-highest nationally.
Source: PSU Athletics