Spring Preview

Offensive line coach Phil Trautwein (center) leads his position group through drills during Penn State’s first spring practice on Monday, March 21, at the Lasch Practice Fields. Photo credit: John Patishnock

Even though we entered the spring season the day before, it sure felt like fall and football weather inside Beaver Stadium on Monday morning.

Late Monday morning to be exact. Temps were warm though not too warm. Slight breeze. You could almost hear the Blue Band in the stands and the roar of the crowd.

This was right before James Franklin met with the media to assess the program as the Nittany Lions began spring practice later that day. We enjoyed a few moments of serenity on the Beaver Stadium turf and exchanged greetings with Franklin, who was his customary confident self in previewing the team’s 15 spring practices that’ll conclude with the Blue-White game on Saturday, April 23.

One piece of news that Franklin shared was that Penn State letterman Danny Rocco joined the staff as a defensive analyst. Rocco played for Penn State in the late 1970s and early 1980s before transferring, and he’s since enjoyed a lengthy coaching career in college at the FBS and FCS levels. Most recently, he was at Delaware for five seasons.

Rocco is part of an ever-increasing contingent of lettermen who are back with the program. Among that group is all-time leading tackler Dan Connor, who returned to Happy Valley in February, also as a defensive analyst. We asked Franklin about the details of how Connor came onboard, and perhaps not surprisingly, another letterman on the staff, Alan Zemaitis, played a key role.

Here’s video of Franklin’s response to our question, which we’ve also included in the YouTube clip.

Sports Illustrated writer Mark Wogenrich wrote a nice column with more details on the lettermen connection, and the Daily Collegian goes in-depth with what happened Monday with its football notebook.

The media availability finished at the Lasch Practice Fields, and we have a photo gallery on our Facebook page, along with some photos below.

Monday was a busy day, as Penn State VP for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour also held a press conference in the afternoon. Barbour recently announced her retirement — an exact date is TBD, though likely sometime this summer — saying Monday that she’ll stay in the area until next year, when she plans to move to the West Coast. That’s home for her, and she also mentioned she’d like to enjoy teaching again, as a way to stay connected with student-athletes.

We asked Barbour her thoughts on the immediate future of Penn State men’s basketball and her perspective of the job done by first-year head coach Micah Shrewsberry. She sounded confident in saying she believes Shrewsberry will do great things at Penn State, and you can check out her full response on the Alumni Association’s Twitter page or below.

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