August 6, 2012 at 11:48 AM
After a chaotic offseason filled with NCAA sanctions and players transfers, Penn State returned to the gridiron Monday morning.
With Bill O'Brien at the helm, the Nittany Lions opened training camp less than four weeks away from their season opener against Ohio. Media members were invited to watch the end of the team's first practice and O'Brien answered questions afterward.
Here are some key points from the first morning of training camp and what Penn State's new coach had to say about it:
- One of the main things O'Brien emphasized was he and his team are aware of why the NCAA issued the sanctions it did against Penn State and he talked about moving forward.
“It’s a new Penn State, it’s a new Penn State football program. We do have some restrictions, but we all know why they’re there. And we’re going to make sure we focus on that in addition to doing a really good job of playing some good, tough football.”
- Though Penn State has had nine players transfer in the wake of the penalties, 85 players returning players stayed on the team and 18 incoming freshman are still with Penn State for a total of 103 players.
“I’m very confident that the guys that are here today are committed, and again, it’s day-to-day. But I’m confident in these guys, they got up at 5:15 this morning and they came out and practiced. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t pretty, but there were some good plays out here and we just have to keep getting better.”
- O'Brien added he wants to keep the focus on players that are still with the team, not the ones who have gone to other schools.
“People have talked to me a lot about the kids that have left, and that’s fine. And I respect those guys, they made individual decisions. But I think we have to start focusing, like I’ve said all along, on the kids that are here."
- In recent weeks, O'Brien has talked a bit about changing Penn State's uniforms and possibly putting player's names on the back of jerseys. But as of Monday, no decision had been made on the matter.
“That’s still under discussion, and if that does happen, I’ll make sure I let you know why it happens.”
- According to O'Brien, there were no significant injuries to report. However, offensive tackle Donovan Smith and safety Jake Fagnano were limited due to hamstring issues.
“These guys got to hydrate better, they have to drink more water and do a better job taking care of their hamstrings.”
- Incoming freshmen were not at the Lions' early morning practice, as O'Brien said they were taking a day to get acclimated. The group of 18 players did have a morning workout in the weight room, and will practice later in the day.
- With the loss of Silas Redd — Penn State's top rusher from a season ago — Bill Belton steps in as the team's No. 1 running back. Senior running back Derek Day was taking reps with the second team offense, while Curtis Dukes was working with the third team.
"I see a great opportunity for [our running backs], and that’s what we’re concentrating on right now.”
- On the defensive side of the ball, defensive back Adrian Amos was spending time at both cornerback and safety. Meanwhile, with Fagnano sidelined, safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong saw time with the defense's first unit. Fagnano was listed as the starter at strong safety on the team's depth chart in June.