Thousands of Penn State faithful woke up early and gathered at Penn State’s workout Tuesday morning.
Starting at about 6 a.m., “We are” chants rang throughout the morning air as the “Rise and Rally” event showed Penn State fans still support their team after it was hit with heavy NCAA sanctions last week. Fans lined the sidelines and got a chance to see the Nittany Lions run some drills after they greeted the team with rousing applause as players showed up at the Lasch Football Building for a 7 a.m. workout.
“It’s breathtaking really,” senior fullback Mike Zordich said. “We heard about it, we knew there were going to be some people, but when you walk in the weight room, you see the crowds of people. It’s six in the morning, and everybody is screaming and yelling. You just really learn to appreciate where you’re at, and who you’re playing for and what jersey you’re wearing because it’s really something special, even through all these times.”
The event came about after former Penn State lettermen Keith Conlin and Tim Sweeney decided on their radio show last week that something needed to be done to show current players they still had the support from the community.
“People are happy to come up here and have something to cheer about, finally,” Conlin said. “How long has it been since they’ve had something to cheer about around here? I think people couldn’t wait until September 1st. When the word went out that it was dire that we get the core of the team to stay, the word went out and people answered.”
When players were finished with their drills, they actually invited the fans onto the field and had a full team/fan huddle, which broke with senior linebacker Mike Mauti yelling “family on three.”
While fans got to see many Penn State players, junior running back Silas Redd and junior linebacker Khairi Fortt — both of whom are considering transferring from Penn State — were not at the workout. Some current players are hoping the outpour of support pushes some players who are thinking about leaving back to Penn State.
“If any of our players are on the fence, just coming out here and seeing the support that everyone is still behind us, they have our back, and they know we should have tremendous support,” senior tight end Garry Gilliam said. “If that doesn’t put them off the fence, then I don’t know what will. Our fans are the greatest in the nation.”