Media Day Sights and Sounds

Linebacker Ellis Brooks (left) and safety Ji’Ayir Brown celebrate during Penn State’s second fall practice Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Lasch Practice Fields. The Nittany Lions opened fall camp the day before, and earlier on Saturday, James Franklin and the team met with the media to look ahead to the 2021 season. Photo credit: Steve Manuel

Wow, did it feel good to be back at Beaver Stadium.

True, the media and a small group of fans were present in April for a few spring practices, though Saturday brought with it all the familiar sights and sounds that appear, or rather re-appear, when a new season can be seen on the horizon.

The next best thing to being there is actually feeling like you were. That’s where we can help (we hope). Our ace photographer Steve Manuel ’82, ’92g was onsite at Beaver Stadium for the media portion of the day, before catching the late-afternoon practice over at the Lasch practice fields. You can check out some of Steve’s photos on Twitter, and we’ll be sharing more images in the weeks to come, both on social and on all our Football Letter platforms. First, you see images from practice, and if you scroll down just a bit, we also have photos from the media day session at the stadium.

We got to the stadium early Saturday, which we find is always beneficial. Before the on-field interviews started, we had a few hours to record lots of video in the stadium, which we’ll share throughout the year, especially on this season’s episodes of Football Letter Live. And even before then, we captured some cool sights from outside and around the stadium. Alumni will definitely see those shots this fall, too.

You can see our highlight video on Twitter (it’s also on Facebook), and the video takes you onto the field at Beaver Stadium, where you’ll see the iconic place from some different angles. Alumni will also hear from associate head coach and letterman Terry Smith ’91, senior defensive tackle PJ Mustipher, and senior quarterback Sean Clifford. We end the video at Lasch for the second practice of the fall, and you’ll see players going through drills and finding some rhythm in preseason camp. There’s some cool natural sound, particularly on the Jugs machine, which fires footballs at receivers and defensive backs to help with their reaction time.

During the media session, Terry gave an incredibly insightful answer about the impact Penn State has had for him, with numerous generations of his family having graduated from the University. That legacy continues with the current team, with his nephew Tank Smith occupying a spot on the roster as a sophomore running back. Toward the end of the media session, I asked Terry if “Tank” was a nickname, and if so, what’s the story behind it. The response was so heartwarming, which anyone who knows Terry has come to expect.

His brother named his son after Terry, “because he loves his brother,” Terry said, speaking of the relationship he has with his sibling. So, Tank was named Terry, and then he physically grew into the stature of a tank, So, the nickname came along, and has stuck. That’s why on Penn State’s roster, you’ll see No. 38 listed as Tank Smith.

Tank grew up in Pittsburgh, where Terry is a legend, particularly in the high school ranks. Many Penn Staters are familiar with Terry’s background and long-standing success in the commonwealth, though for anyone who wants to learn more, you can visit his official bio on Vince Lungaro ’18 chatted further with Terry, and you can read that Q&A on the blog.

Saturday was busy, fun, and productive. And best of all, it’s only the start of what’s sure to be a fun, exciting, and successful fall on the gridiron in Happy Valley. Stay tuned. There’ll be many more videos, photos, and stories to share this season.

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