Check out this week’s Roaring 20 to see, hear, and feel what it was like to be at Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon for this year’s Blue-White game. We’ve also added some info on our volunteer recognition efforts this week. And as usual, we’ve embedded videos, photos, and social media posts for you.
1. We started Blue-White Weekend with a reception Thursday evening at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, where we honored volunteers and a few dedicated Alumni Association colleagues. The acceptance speeches were memorable, not only because of the honorees, but also because they also recognized and gave credit to many around them. You can see photos and a thread on all the recipients on Twitter.
2. In some ways, the Blue-White game is more of a relief than anything else. It’s the conclusion of spring practice, which follows grueling winter workouts. The format has changed over the years, and for what it’s worth, I think that’s fine. Keeping options open is always a good thing, and either way, the tailgating lots will still open early.
3. Chatted briefly with Matt McGoin, who co-hosts a highly informative and entertaining podcast with fellow Penn Stater, Tom Hannifan, himself an impressively accomplished commentator. You can check out YouTube for more information and to see previous episodes. Wishing both of them the best.
4. Micah Parsons, Mike Gesicki, Pat Freiermuth, and Yetur Gross-Matos — these are just some of the lettermen who traveled back to Happy Valley for the game. Gesicki was around early on, and not surprisingly, fans noticed. We happened to be on the right side of the field to see the superstar tight end who’s now playing for the Miami Dolphins, and we shot this video. Every time Gesicki was getting ready to walk away, someone else, usually a younger fan, screamed out his name. Every time, Gesicki stayed.
5. Also in autograph news: Parsons was approached by a fan as the NFL superstar was walking off the field. Parsons stopped, casually signed his own jersey, and then gave the Nittany Lion a handshake. Pretty smooth.
6. Football Letter photographer Steve Manuel captured some gorgeous scenes from the game and pregame festivities. You can see a few on Twitter, and members will receive the full gallery in Monday’s postgame email. If you’re not a member, you can visit alumni.psu.edu/join to ensure you receive The Football Letter all season.
7. CommRadio social media manager Emmy Vitali also got some beautiful photos of today’s game. We shared them on Twitter, and you can also follow the student account to stay updated on everything they’re doing. We’ve worked directly with the students in that organization, and everyone — students and advisors — are total professionals.
8. As the alma mater was about to start, James Franklin implored his team to get to the goal-line, perhaps so they could be closer to the fans and band? Even if that wasn’t a factor, no detail goes unnoticed with Franklin. You can see the full video of the alma mater on our Twitter page.
9. Today’s announced attendance was 62,000. Onward State shared this photo that gives a nice view of the crowd, with Mount Nittany in the backdrop.
10. In case you didn’t know (and why would you), standout safety Ji’Ayir Brown is a big fan of the Nittany Lion. Then again, who isn’t? We got, just in time, footage of him making eye contact with the mascot and sharing jump in mid-air, followed quickly by a photo opportunity, at Brown’s request. You can see the full video on Twitter.
11. Minutes later, Brown made time for fans in the South Tunnel, who yelled out his name, asking for autographs. We’ve got video of that exchange, too.
12. Speaking of the South Tunnel: James Franklin thanked fans on both sides, stopping for pictures and autographs. We changed the camera settings a few times to adjust for the difference in light — we learned that lessons years ago when I wondered why the tunnel footage was so dark, it is a tunnel, after all — so you can see the full celebration.
13. One cool moment from the video: As fans yelled “eighty-eight” over and again, Franklin said, “His name’s Jerry,” as in freshman tight end Jerry Cross. The young fans didn’t mean anything by it, and more than anything, it struck me as a teachable moment. The players are just like anyone else, humans with emotions, and not gladiators. Plus, you have to think players are more likely to stop when they hear their own name, right?
14. As much as Sean Clifford is considered “old” — even he’s joked about it, being a sixth-year player in the program — he’s still young and navigating plenty, including now serving as CEO of Limitless, a new company he’s founded to help student-athletes with name, image, and likeness. In the handful of minutes I heard him speak after the game, he displayed a level of maturity that even surpasses (I believe) what he’s shown in the past. While there’s lots of young talent in the quarterback room, having a steady veteran should help not only this year, but also in the future as Clifford mentors his teammates.
15. You can hear from Clifford directly, as we captured some of his postgame media availability. That video is available here.
16. After exiting the stadium Saturday afternoon, I immediately ran into Paris Palmer, a letterman from the 2016 Big Ten championship team and all-around good guy. Great seeing Paris and we chatted for a few minutes. Paris was on Football Letter Live in 2020, and you can check out his appearance beginning at the 9:05 mark. Paris is working in Penn State’s Strategic Communications Office and is also having an impact as GM of the newly formed group, Success With Honor Collective, which is focused on bringing clarity and opportunities to Penn State student-athletes in this era of name, image, and likeness.
17. As I was driving away after the game, the sun shone brighter and warmer than it had all day. According to the temperature reading in my car, it was 73 degrees, an increase of about 20 degrees from lunchtime. So, it was good to see plenty of cars still parked, Penn Staters still tailgating, and flags whipping in the wind. The game may have ended around 4 p.m., though I imagine many of those folks are still tailgating as I write these words.
18. And for the record, the Defense bested the Offense, 17-13, in a scoring format that would’ve made Willy Wonka happy. Seriously, it made sense, as Franklin said afterward that what the team did today, pitting the offense against the defense in scoring, as opposed to two complete teams scrimmaging, is what was best for the program. For the scoring details, CNHI reporter Elton Hayes shared the breakdown provided by Athletics leading up to today.
19. Tomorrow, the Alumni Association is sponsoring the Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run, an annual event which benefits Special Olympics Pennsylvania. Even if you can’t participate yourself, you’ll still receive a boost by going and cheering on the runners and walkers. Sue Paterno typically welcomes the crowd, as she’s a longtime passionate supporter of Special Olympics. You can learn more on the event’s website.
20. Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their spring and upcoming summer. Lots to look forward to once we get to the fall. Before then, a reminder that registration is open for We Are Weekend, June 17-18 at University Park. You can view our full listing of events on our website.
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The offensive line still looks like No Can Do. Coach Franklin is approaching ten years of this.
When you have a coach searching the transfer portal for the type of people that he doesn’t have, it tells you something about the results of all the coaching. This talent that is here is too good to be wasted by coaches who are not developing the talent. A big mistake was not having Larry Johnson, Ron vanDerlinden, and Tom Bradley. Imagine the defense with this talent coached by these three.
cOULD NOT AGREE MORE. oUR COACHING STAFF, PARTICULARLY OFFENSIVE LINE, I NOT ATTACKING THE TALENT WE NEED.
Yes 10 years of the same old same old. Franklin can talk good, but as we all know talk is cheap. Franklin has to put up or shut up this year, and if we are still mediocre after the season, he needs to go and so do the assistant coaches. At all phases of coaching the incredible talent is not being developed.