The Good Things Surrounding the Penn State Football Program during the Pandemic

The Covid-19 Pandemic forced worldwide changes in how we live as a society. Usually Penn State fans are used to saying “We Are”. But, for the last few months, “social distancing” have been the two words most people around the country are saying the most.

The Pandemic forced the cancellation of many notable events in the Penn State Football world. Spring practice, Blue-White Weekend, players attending the NFL Draft, and commencement all went by the wayside. Instead, players are working out on their own, while coaches are communicating with them through Zoom meetings. Blue-White Weekend was cancelled. The NFL held a virtual Draft, thus forcing all players to hear their names called at home. Lastly, instead of walking a stage, players who graduated were honored for their accomplishments virtually.

But, as June begins, and the world is trying to return to some type of normalcy, I think now is a good time to reflect on some of the good things that have happened in the last few months within the Penn State Football Program. Obviously, fans have high expectations for the 2020 Nittany Lions after coming off an 11-2 season and a Cotton Bowl victory. But, let’s back on what we know has happened before we look ahead to the a very uncertain summer and fall of 2020.

Former Nittany Lions Finding New NFL Homes

While professional sports leagues were postponing their seasons because of Covid-19, the NFL Free Agency period was getting started. Several former Penn State players signed on to new teams ahead of the 2020 NFL season.

Blue-White Weekend Virtual Tailgate

Blue-White Weekend is more than just seeing a Spring Football game in Happy Valley. So, with it being cancelled in 2020, it was a huge loss for the Penn State community. But, the Penn State Football Program was able to at least salvage a little bit of that feeling fans get when they pay a visit to Penn State for Blue-White Weekend.

The Penn State social media team was able to put together a virtual tailgate for fans, players, and coaches to enjoy and come together as a community. There were trivia events, Spring Game schedule poster release, Blue Band show, live check-ins from coaches, including Head Coach James Franklin, and replays of classic Penn State games.

Although the numbers fell short for a traditional Blue-White Weekend, these numbers were still pretty solid in bringing together the Penn State Football community.

2020 NFL Draft

The NFL offseason was the excitement of the last few months for sports fans. This time, it was the NFL Draft that had people locked in to see who their favorite teams would select. There were zero Nittany Lions selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

But, Penn State fans didn’t have to wait long to hear one of their own have their name called in the second round. Yetur Gross-Matos went 38th overall to the Carolina Panthers where he will play for former Penn State player and current Panthers head coach Matt Rhule. Shortly after, the Denver Broncos scooped up KJ Hamler with the 46th pick, making him key piece to a now young, formidable wide receiver corps in Denver.

In the middle to late rounds, former Nittany Lions were scattered across the draft ticker. John Reid went in the 4th round to the Houston Texans, where he will play for former Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien.

Cam Brown was picked by the New York Giants in the 6th round. He will have some familiarity on the coaching staff as recently departed Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer is now in the same role with the Giants.

The final Nittany Lion selected in the 2020 Draft was Robert Windsor, who joined Brown in the 6th round when the Indianapolis Colts selected him at 193rd overall.

NFL Undrafted Free Agents

Yes, Penn State had five players hear their name get called by Roger Goodell in the virtual NFL Draft. But, they had several more sign with NFL teams as undrafted free agents. Here is the list:

Micah Parsons Hype

Since he was a 5-star high school recruit, Penn State fans have known how talented LB Micah Parsons is. After an All-America sophomore campaign, it is hard not to be excited to see how high Parsons may go if he decides to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. Mel Kiper Jr. certainly did not put a damper on the expectations with his early Big Board for the 2021 Draft where he ranked Micah Parsons at #5.

Recruiting Wins

Despite recruiting being in a dead period because of the global pandemic, Penn State has been fortunate to continue to thrive on the recruiting trail. As of May 31, they have the 17th best overall class on 247Sports and 12 commits currently in the class. Prior to the pandemic, only two players were committed to the blue and white. Liam Clifford, the brother of QB Sean Clifford, and Nate Bruce were the only two commits in the 2021 class. But, since March 26, 10 players have forced James Franklin to tweet “We Are… Better”.

4-star OT prospect Landon Tengwall gave his commitment on March 26, becoming the first player to commit during quarantine. From there,Β  players were committing left and right.

4-star S Jaylen Reed from Michigan committed to the Lions on April 9th. The very next day, Penn State landed three commitments. Another 4-star S, Zakee Wheatley committed, adding to the secondary depth of the 2021 class. Then, James Franklin once again dipped into enemy territory by landing brothers DB Kalen King and LB Kobe King out of Detroit, MI.

The next week, CB Jeffrey Davis Jr., became the 4th defensive back to commit to the 2021 class. On April 29, Franklin received commitments from two players. 4-star QB prospect Christian Veillux committed, fitting Franklin’s highly coveted “one QB per class” rule. That same day, Sander Sahaydak from Bethlehem, PA committed to Penn State. Sahaydak is the #1 kicker on 247Sports in the 2021 class.

As the calendar flipped to May, 3-star prospects Rodney McGraw, a defensive end from Indiana, and Lonnie White Jr., a likely future WR from Malvern, PA, both committed to Penn State. But, since White Jr. committed on May 7, the recruiting trail has been relatively quiet.

Covid-19 has certainly forced many changes within our society. But, fortunately, good news has continued to come from the Penn State Football Program during these difficult times. Hopefully, there is more to come in the next few months!

Penn State Lands Two More Class of 2021 Commits

Photo by Kami Brand

The Nittany Lions are on a recruiting run as of late. You almost began to wonder if they were going to cool down for a little bit. Then, early-afternoon Wednesday, head coach James Franklin & company did it again. Then moments later, again.

Penn State lands one of the nation’s top kickers, in the 2021 class, Sander Sahaydak from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Kickers aren’t put through the same evaluation as most recruits, but he is still considered highly touted.

Moments later the Nittany Lions found their quarterback for the future when former Canadian, now Maryland native and four star quarterback, Christian Veilleux committed. He is a 247 Top 300 player and the 15th best pro-style QB in his class. He was also holding offers from numerous schools including Clemson.

With these two commits, Penn State’s 2021 class now sits at 10 verbal commits, which is 14th best in the country, currently 6th best in the Big Ten.

How Can Penn State Catch Ohio State?

Photo by Kami Brand

In the Big Ten it’s the Ohio State Buckeyes and then everyone else. That is the undeniable truth.

In the past four seasons, Ohio State is 49-6 and boasts a 33-3 conference record (16′ loss at Penn State, 17′ loss at Iowa, and 18′ loss at Purdue). To put it plainly, it has been utter dominance.

So how do the Nittany Lions rise to the same level? Well, it’s important to note that Penn State has played the Buckeyes as well as anyone in the past four years: both the 2017 and 2018 games were heartbreakers with a single point separating the Lions from the Buckeyes. Last year’s game wasn’t as close, but it was also probably Ohio State’s most talented team since 2014 and it was in Ohio Stadium.

As close as the Nittany Lions were to knocking off the Buckeyes, there are also no moral victories in College Football. The pair of losses in 2017 and 2018 were a figurative Ohio State stiff arm–keeping Penn State out of arm’s reach.

Let’s take a closer look:

Recruiting is the fuel to any college football program. Obviously every program has to be able to develop their players to be successful, something Michigan has struggled with. But the top-tier teams are able to consistently develop their four and five star recruits. So it doesn’t matter how well the Iowas and Wisconsins improve their three star players, they will never consistently keep up with the schools that are recruiting and developing their blue-chip recruits.

That is simply why Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten.


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Look at the above data. Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten when it comes to recruiting. In 2019, the Nittany Lions did edge out the Buckeyes. The class has players who will look to make a major impact in 2020: Noah Cain, Brandon Smith, Adisa Isaac, John Dunmore, and Devyn Ford. But for the most part Ohio State has had their way when it comes to recruiting. Typical recruiting battles between the Buckeyes and Wolverines in Michigan and Ohio have been won by Ohio State. Furthermore the Buckeyes have stolen big time players from Pennsylvania like five star receiver Julian Fleming. To top it off, the Buckeyes have been recruiting on a national level rivaling the likes of Georgia and Alabama.

It’s no surprise that the strong 2018 and 2019 Penn State recruiting classes came after the Nittany Lions returned to greatness in 2016. However, the 2016 Big Ten Championship is long gone; high school recruits were only 11-14 years old when James Franklin raised that trophy. The Nittany Lions need to continue to defend why their product is better than Ohio State’s.

Because right now it isn’t.

On top of the recruiting imbalance, Ohio State continues to attract top-level transfers to their program. The most gut-wrenching one? Justin Fields transferring from Georgia to Columbus, who was at one time committed to Penn State. Just yesterday, Oklahoma running back and graduate transfer, Trey Sermon, announced he too will be transferring to Ohio State.

Penn State’s biggest addition via the transfer portal? A specialist. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions have lost big time players such as Juwan Johnson, Justin Shorter, and Ricky Slade. Perhaps Penn State fans won’t miss any of them, but the program still needs to find a way to entice a couple playmakers where their depth is shallow.

It’s hard to compete against Ohio State with the number of blue chip players on their roster. But it’s important to note that Penn State doesn’t need to beat the Buckeyes every time they play them to narrow the gap. But when they have the opportunities to win, they must capitalize. The single-point losses in 2017 and 2018 halted the momentum of the entire program not because they lost to Ohio State, but how and when they lost. Losing by one-point, twice, leaves a stinging resonance within the entire program. Even a split in those games would have helped close the distance between the programs. Instead, losing both those games, then losing the following week to Michigan State lagged the program’s growth and let Ohio State separate.

The loss in 2019 didn’t change the opinions of many, Penn State wasn’t supposed to beat one of the best teams in the country on their home-field. But now let’s fast forward to the 2020 season.

Penn State is returning a ton of experience, a stout defense, and a couple game-changers on both sides of the football. Let’s focus in on the last point because I believe that is what makes the difference between the elite and the great programs. Having team speed and disruptive linemen help you dominate the lesser opponents, but the game changing playmakers are the ones that swing the game in your favor against evenly matched teams. Think Saquon Barkley, Chris Godwin, KJ Hamler.

Penn State will still be looking for a few more game changers in their receiving corps, but they have promising prospects eager to prove themselves. All things considered, given how much Ohio State has to replace, this appears to be a season where Penn State can move one step closer to Ohio State.

And beating Ohio State every couple years along with capitalizing on other primetime matchups is the only way to narrow the gap and truly compete with the Buckeyes.

And if they don’t beat them in 2020 then they will just move further away.

Evaluating Penn State Players at the NFL Combine

This weekend five former Penn State Nittany Lions took part in the 2020 NFL Draft Combine to showcase their skills in front of NFL scouts, coaches, and general managers. Here is our evaluation for each of them.

KJ Hamler WR

Grade: B

The knock on KJ Hamler heading into Indy was always going to be his size. He didn’t necessarily help himself with his weigh-in under 180 pounds. That being said, the flashy receiver benched 15 reps at 225, which was impressive for any receiver. Hamler didn’t run his 40 this weekend though because of a tweaked hamstring. He claims he will run a Β sub-4.3. It’s safe to say his stock will highly depend on that time, more than it would for other receivers.

Yetur-Gross Matos DE

Grade: B-

Yetur-Gross Matos was never going to wow anyone away with his bench press showing. The defensive end’s length was a talking point though. Gross-Matos was measured with 82 2/8″ wingspan and almost 35″ arms. That length is something that cannot be coached or taught. Like Hamler, Gross-Matos didn’t run his 40.

Robert Windsor DL

Grade: A

Robert Windsor went into Indianapolis with very little to lose and it showed. Windsor put together an impressive combine and boosted his stock. He ran a sub 5.0 forty, which would bode well for any interior defensive linemen. Furthermore, his hustle and pass rush ability appears on his tape as well as his measurables. I am not sure where he is going to go but I can see him lasting in the NFL for a long time.

Cam Brown LB

Grade: C

This was an important weekend for Cam Brown and he didn’t put his best foot forward. The linebacker only managed 16 reps on the benchpress, which was only one better than his former teammate, KJ Hamler. That disappointing result is partially due to his length, but it still doesn’t look good for an undersized linebacker. Furthermore, his 40 time, 4.72 was not as fast as he would’ve liked it. He will look to improve his stock at Penn State’s pro day, where he will look to get that 40 time possibly under 4.70 at the very least.

John Reid

Grade: A

John Reid closed out the NFL Combine for the Nittany Lions with a strong performance. The former Nittany Lion defensive back was once a possible candidate to leave early for the NFL, but was held back with a couple injuries. One important aspect of the NFL Combine is the medical evaluations during the week, which plays a pivotal role for players like Reid. If he passed those tests without any red flags then this week was already a successful one for him. Furthermore, his hips were as fluid as any during the on-the-field drills. He capped off his performance with a sub-4.50 40, which was one of the question marks heading into the combine. Oh and it doesn’t hurt when Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders says you look smooth:

Top Reactions to the Lawsuit Filed against Penn State, James Franklin

Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed by former Penn State DB Isaiah Humphries and his representatives against Penn State, James Franklin, and ex-teammate Damion Barber. The lawsuit accused Penn State players of hazing Humphries and numerous other players, Franklin and his staff of knowing about the hazing, and essentially accusing the Penn State coaching staff of setting Humphries up to fail in practice.

So, with such a huge story coming out with details that have such strong claims against the Penn State Football program, of course social media was a buzz about the lawsuit. Those in the anti-Penn State crowd of course made their headlines and comments revolving around the “I am going to Sandusky you” threat mentioned in the lawsuit. And others made their comparisons to the Jerry Sandusky scandal when this lawsuit came out yesterday afternoon.

But, many in the Penn State community, including the players and the university itself, gave their thoughts on the lawsuit and many of them are quite suspicious of why this lawsuit was filed.

First, here was Penn State’s official response to the lawsuit.

It appears that Penn State did their own investigation and sent their results to the Centre County District Attorney. The District Attorney went over the case and decided charges should not be pursued. The case seems pretty cut and dried based on the statement from the university.

Now, many of the players that were on the team with Isaiah Humphires gave their reactions, as well.

This one is from 2019 Penn State captain Garrett Taylor.

Taylor was in the same position group as Humphries and as a captain, his word carries a lot of weight with the team, the coaches, and the media that covers the team. Another captain and another member of the defensive backs group Jonathan Sutherland, a player who had racist comments toward him this year and handled them with the utmost grace, seems to side with Taylor here.

Lamont Wade, yet another player who was in the Penn State defensive backs group with Humphries added several comments on Twitter, as well. In addition, Wade entered the transfer portal after the 2018 season, just as Humphries did. However, Wade obviously came back to Penn State and had a big 2019 season while Humphries opted to transfer to the University of California. Here is what Wade had to say.

All three of these players beat out Humphries on the depth chart and Wade seems to think that has something to do with this lawsuit coming out yesterday.

Cam Brown, another captain of the 2019 team, added his comments.

Former Penn State Offensive Lineman Ryan Bates took to Twitter and was very adamant on the lawsuit. He later deleted the tweet from his Twitter account.

Overall, it seems that from the Penn State players that this is the case of a disgruntled player who did not earn his playing time and wants some type of revenge for it. The university has conducted their investigation and the Centre County DA reviewed the case and found no reason for charges to be filed. Specific financial terms have not come out of what Humphries and his camp are looking for from this lawsuit.

But, the consensus around the Penn State Football program is that these allegations are false and they are willing to strongly defend the program until this lawsuit is settled.

Former Player Sues Penn State and James Franklin

A lawsuit has come out revealing hazing allegations involving the Penn State Football program and its players. Former Penn State Isaiah Humphries claims to have been hazed by former teammates Damion Barber, Yetur Gross-Matos, Micah Parsons, and Jesse Luketa. In the lawsuit, Humphries names Penn State, James Franklin, and Barber as defendants.

The hazing allegations are of both sexual and threatening nature. There are several key points that Humphries mentions in the lawsuit that build his case.

  • Forcing victims on the ground and shoving their genitals in their face or putting them between the victims’ buttocks and humping them.
  • Jesse Luketa threatened to gun down Humphries if he ever visited “his city” in Canada.
  • Players would say “I am going to Sandusky you” in the locker room in reference to the Jerry Sandusky case.
  • Hazing occurred in places on campus such as the Lasch Building.
  • Coaches witnessed the hazing but did not do anything to stop it.
  • Underclassmen were threatened with sexual assault.

Humphries entered the transfer portal after the 2018 season and claims in the lawsuit that he did so because of the hazing. He ultimately decided to go to the University of California. He sat out the 2019 season because of transfer rules.

Humphries’ lawyer for the case is attorney Steven F. Marino. Marino is the same lawyer who filed a lawsuit against the James Franklin and the university in the fall of 2019. He represented former team doctor Scott A. Lynch, who filed suit because he claims James Franklin urged him to have injured players return to the field.

More to come as more details come out, players react, and the university and Coach Franklin speak to the media.

Week 17

Week 17


Saquon Barkley, Running Back, New York Giants (Team Captain)

  • Barkley rushed 17 times for 92 yards and a touchdown. He also added three receptions for 25 yards in the Giants’ 34-17 loss to the Eagles.

Mike Gesicki, Tight End, Miami Dolphins

  • Gesicki made four receptions for 34 yards including a touchdown in the Dolphins’ 27-24 win over the Patriots.

Chris Godwin, Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Godwin did not play in the Buccaneers’ 28-22 OT loss to the Falcons.

DaeSean Hamilton, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos

  • Hamilton made five receptions for 65 yards in the Broncos’ 16-15 win over the Raiders.

Jesse James, Tight End, Detroit Lions

  • James made two receptions for five yards in the Lions’ 23-20 loss to the Packers.

Trace McSorley, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

  • McSorley saw action for one play, rushing for one yard in a designed QB run in the Ravens’ 28-10 win over the Steelers.

Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears

  • Robinson made nine receptions for 71 yards in the Bears’ 21-19 win over the Vikings.

Miles Sanders, Running Back, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Sanders rushed nine times for 52 yards in the Eagles’ 34-17 win over the Giants.

A.Q. Shipley, Center, Arizona Cardinals (Team Captain)

  • Shipley helped the Cardinals’ rushing attack to just 71 yards in the Cardinals’ 31-24 loss to the Rams.

Donovan Smith, Offensive Tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Smith helped the Bucs rushing attack to 136 yards in their 28-22 OT loss to the Falcons.

Ross Travis, Tight End, New York Jets

  • Travis did not play in the Jets’ 13-6 win over the Bills.

Robbie Gould, Kicker, San Francisco 49ers

  • Gould was 2-2 in extra point attempts and 2-2 in field goal attempts in the 49ers’ 26-21 win over the Seahawks.

Sam Ficken, Kicker, New York Jets

  • Ficken was 1-1 in extra point attempts and 2-4 in field goal attempts in the Jets 13-6 win over the Bills.

For The Glory Offensive Player of the Week:

Saquon Barkley

Despite the Giants losing their game against the Eagles, we are giving Offensive Player of the Week to Saquon Barkley who had yet another highlight reel touchdown run. He finished the day with 92 yards rushing and that long touchdown. Here’s his 68 yard touchdown for your enjoyment.


Adrian Amos, Safety, Green Bay Packers

  • Amos recorded five total tackles in the Packers’ 23-20 win over the Lions.

Troy Apke, Safety, Washington Redskins

  • Apke recorded one total tackle in the Redskins’ 47-16 loss to the Cowboys.

Jack Crawford, Defensive End, Atlanta Falcons

  • Crawford recorded one total tackle in the Falcons’ 28-22 win over the Buccaneers.

Grant Haley, Cornerback, New York Giants

  • Haley did not record any tackles in the Giants’ loss to the Eagles.

Austin Johnson, Defensive Tackle, Tennessee Titans

  • Johnson made one total tackle in the Titans’ 35-14 win over the Texans.

DaQuan Jones, Defensive Tackle, Tennessee Titans

  • Jones recorded one tackle in the Titans’ win over the Texans.

Sean Lee, Linebacker, Dallas Cowboys

  • Lee made three total tackles in the Cowboys’ 47-16 win over the Redskins.

Jordan Lucas, Safety, Kansas City Chiefs

  • Lucas did not record any defensive stats in the Chiefs’ 31-21 win over the Chargers.

Carl Nassib, Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Team Captain)

  • Nassib recorded three total tackles in the Buccaneers’ 28-22 OT win over the Falcons.

Amani Oruwariye, Cornerback, Detroit Lions

  • Oruwariye recorded four tackles and one pass defended in the Lions’ loss to the Packers.

Nick Scott, Safety, Los Angeles Rams

  • Scott did not record any tackles in the Rams’ 31-24 win over the Cardinals.

Cameron Wake, Defensive End, Tennessee Titans

  • Wake has been placed on injured reserve.

Anthony Zettel, Defensive End, San Francisco 49ers

  • Zettel recorded one total tackle for his new team. The 49ers took home a 26-21 win over the Seahawks.

For the Glory Defensive Player of the Week:

Adrian Amos

It was again a slow week for the PSU Defensive NFLers. As a result, our award goes to Adrian Amos who led all PSU NFLers in tackles this week with five.


Inactive Players:

Ryan Bates, Offensive Tackle, Buffalo Bills
Saeed Blacknall, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins
Brandon Bell, Linebacker, Carolina Panthers
Mike Hull, Linebacker, Miami Dolphins
Brendan Mahon, Offensive Guard, Carolina Panthers
Connor McGovern, Offensive Guard, Dallas Cowboys
Shareef Miller, Defensive End, Philadelphia Eagles
Kyle Vasey, Long Snapper, Atlanta Falcons
Stefen Wisniewski, Guard, Kansas City Chiefs
Trevor Williams, Cornerback, Arizona Cardinals
Marcus Allen, Safety, Pittsburgh Steelers
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