Archive: November, 2012
How will Penn State's 2012 success help Bill O'Brien and his team? Will Christian Hackenberg fully commit to the Nittany Lions? The Inquirer's Joe Juliano discusses these questions in a video chat with CineSport's Noah Coslov.
Bill O'Brien's selection as Big Ten coach of the year by both conference coaches and the media drew praise from Christian Hackenberg, a Penn State commitment and one of the most highly sought-after high school quarterbacks in the country.
Hackenberg, who just wrapped up his senior season at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, said on Twitter: "Much deserved recognition for coach O'Brien. Just another reason why I cannot wait to play for him."
Hackenberg, who has "Nittany Lion for life" on his Twitter bio page, is expected to come in next season and compete for the starting quarterback job should he sign his national letter of intent with Penn State as expected in February.
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When asked about his future at Penn State, Bill O'Brien's answers this season have ranged from ambiguous to noncommittal to coy.
On Tuesday, his first post-season interview, the coach appeared much more assertive.
O'Brien's name has popped up as a candidate for NFL and college vacancies -- at least in the watercooler and message board circles. But when asked on Tuesday whether he would coach the Nittany Lions in 2013, O'Brien was concrete.
Six Penn State players were named Monday night to the 2012 All-Big Ten teams as selected in separate balloting by conference coaches and by media covering the league.
In addition, two Nittany Lions -- senior linebacker Michael Mauti and sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson -- were voted the best at their positions.
It was a fitting finish for each player -- for two entirely separate reasons.
In the final week of the Big Ten season, senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Week while sophomore kicker Sam Ficken was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week.
For Hill, the honor solidifies a standout senior campaign. The 6-foot-1, 292-pound NFL prospect tallied a career-high 12 tackles in Penn State's overtime finale against Wisconsin. With linebacker Mike Mauti sidelined with a knee injury, Hill was a defensive sparkplug when the Nittany Lions needed it most - eight of Hill's tackles came in the fourth quarter or overtime.
He had a 94 mile per hour fastball, and his father was drafted by the Phillies. Jake Fagnano could have been a great baseball player -- but football was his dream. Penn State football, more specifically.
"He'll probably get mad at me," coach Bill O'Brien said, "but when he was growing up, if Penn State lost on Saturday he was in tears in his bedroom and he was four, five, six years old."
So what Fagnano did on Saturday -- in his final collegiate game -- was the stuff of fairytales.
Video: What did Penn State’s 24-21 win over Wisconsin mean for the seniors? The Inquirer’s Joe Juliano discusses this and the future of the football program.
The past three months have looked like this for the Penn State football team: Early morning (5:30 a.m.) runs, early morning lifts, practice in the rain, practice in the cold, practice in the sun, media obligations, travel to the Midwest, travel home from the Midwest, emotional wins, emotional losses. Oh, and school work.
At about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, the last group of Nittany Lions trickled out of the interview at Beaver Stadium and walked out into the chilly State College night. The 2012 season is over. So what happens now?
Here's what the upcoming week looks like for Penn State coaches and players:
There is no way to describe what Mike Mauti means to this Penn State team. He gave the program a backbone this summer when all seemed disjointed, everyone seemed dejected and perhaps everything was at brink of falling apart. He convinced underclassmen to stay. He lead by example,playing gritty, determined football every game this season - that is, until this game.
When Mauti left the Indiana game with a knee injury, it was a cruel ending to an epic collegiate career. Really, Mauti is the stuff of legends. The linebacker is a quiet leader. He doesn’t like the attention. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, but he plays with class. He embodies every positive trait Penn Staters pride themselves in; Success with Honor, the whole 100 yards.
Penn State is playing today with No. 42 on their helmets, to honor Mauti whose collegiate career, barring a surprising petition for a sixth year of eligibility, is over. The “42” is large and blue and takes up pretty much the entire left side of the helmet. In a sweet gesture, senior linebacker Gerald Hodges changed his jersey to No. 42 today to honor his good friend. The helmet decals are a way for the senior to be on the field with his teammates without actually playing.