The Legacy Continues

Like any father of a high school senior, Leonard Humphries knew he had to let his son make the college choice that was best for him—regardless of Humphries’ connection to his own alma mater.

“I wanted him to approach the process with an open mind, look at everything that’s out there and make a determination,” Humphries says. “He might not like the same things I like. What was good for me 30 years ago, I didn’t know if it was going to be good for him.”

And so, the senior Humphries insists, there was was no pressure. But there was hope. “I just hoped that he understood what I know about Penn State, and what a great university it is.”

Leonard’s hope was officially rewarded on Wednesday, when Isaiah Humphries, a safety from the Dallas suburbs of Rowlett, signed on as part of a Nittany Lion recruiting class that ranks among the best in the nation. He’s also the latest to join a proud Penn State legacy of sons who follow fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and older brothers in donning the blue and white

It should go without saying here, of course, but Leonard Humphries ’92 was a standout defensive back for the Nittany Lions in the early ’90s who went on to play in the NFL and CFL. He eventually settled with his family in the Dallas area, a long way from Happy Valley—but, when it came to imagining their kids’ future, not so far out of mind. Isaiah’s mom, Jennifer, shared a childhood keepsake on Twitter this week that spoke to the parents’ hopes, way back when.

Leonard laughs at the memory. “When she found them, I was like, ‘Oh, shoot, I remember those,'” he says. “Who knows when your kid’s a toddler what they’re going to be? But for her to be able to pull those out, and remember saying ‘maybe one day he’ll follow in your footsteps,’ it’s definitely a great honor for me.”

Acknowledging how different Penn State is from the university he left 25 years ago, Leonard says it’s the things that haven’t changed that made him excited for his son to follow his path—and confirmed his own connection to his alma mater. “We’re still the university that has guys who are more academically inclined,” he says. “Going to Penn State, you know that you’re going to be challenged in the classroom, and you’re also going to have the opportunity to play great football. It’s still the Penn State mindset. I don’t think that’s changed.”

As for the program itself, Leonard says, “The people, the coaching staff, are just very genuine people. And the team itself, they’re good guys, the kind of guys I’d want my son to be around.”

The same qualities, in other words, that drew Leonard Humphries here as a highly touted recruit all those years ago. Turns out Penn State was more than good enough for his son, too.

 

FBL Podcast: Iowa Week

 

We get ready for Big Ten play and catch up with one of the famed Penn State Collins brothers as the Nittany Lions hit the road for a big game in Iowa City.

Hailing from Cinnaminson, N.J., Jason Collins ’97 was a standout on the undefeated 1994 squad, and one of the five brothers—Andre, Gerry, Phil, and Aaron are the others—who suited up for Joe Paterno’s teams from the mid 1980s through the mid ’90s. He’s also got a podcast of his own: You can hear Jason’s take on sports (including the Nittany Lions) on the Game Day Coverage radio show.

Also: We look back on a blowout of Georgia State, look ahead to a big matchup with the Hawkeyes, and chat with members of our Central Iowa chapter.

Thanks for listening. We Are…

FBL Podcast: Georgia State Week

 

It’s Panthers on both sides on this week’s podcast, as we look back at a satisfying victory over old rival Pitt, and look ahead to this week’s visit from Georgia State.

We’ve got a great conversation with Anwar Phillips ’05, a standout in the secondary on the Nittany Lions’ mid-2000s teams, including that memorable run to the 2005 Big Ten championship, and now president of the Alumni Association’s Houston Chapter. Anwar talks about his enduring connection to the program, memories of being recruited by a young Maryland assistant named James Franklin, and how he and other Penn Staters in the Houston area are helping in the recovery from Hurricane Harvey. You can find more about the chapter’s efforts on their Facebook page.

We’ve also got some Southern-themed tailgate talk for Georgia State, and our go-to Saturday chef, Dave Young ’97, is making the most of the Peach State connection: Check out these recipes for peach-bourbon barbecue, pimiento mac & cheese, and peaches-and-cream blondies.

Finally, Alumni Association CEO Paul Clifford inspired a trivia contest when he asked if Penn State had ever before faced consecutive teams with the same mascot. Thanks to our online editor and intrepid fact checker Bill DiFilippo ’14, we know the answer. If you can figure it out, respond with the answer in the comments below, or reply to us on Twitter @PSUFBLetter. The first correct answer will be rewarded with something cool from the Hintz Family Alumni Center basement.

Thanks for listening. We Are…

Mike Stella’s Rare Strength

As a member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class and one of the best high school tight ends in the country, Pat Freiermuth (above, left) knows his audience. So when he tweeted recently encouraging his followers to check out a short documentary film, he made sure to mention that the film’s subject, Mike Stella, is a Penn Stater.

Stella ’05 (right) is a strength and conditioning coach who works with young athletes in the greater Boston area. That’s how he linked up with Freiermuth, but it turns out the blue-and-white connections here run even deeper than the bond between one alum and one soon-to-be Lion.

Stella didn’t suit up for the Nittany Lions, but as a former student manager for the team, he’s an integral part of the Penn State football family. That’s all the more true considering what he had to overcome to get there. Continue reading

Fast Living with Chris Snyder

You might remember Chris Snyder as a hard-nosed defensive lineman on Penn State’s late ’90s teams. You might not know that Snyder ’97 then spent nearly a decade as an Arena Football League standout before retiring from the game in 2008. But even before he stepped away from football, he had embarked on a career as a fitness trainer that led him to work in another intense, competitive field: auto racing.

To be clear, Snyder isn’t driving—squeezing into an Indy Car cockpit is probably not an ideal career choice for a guy who played at 6-3, 270. Instead, since 2003, he has served as strength and conditioning coach for Chip Ganassi Racing. We learned this thanks to Cait Knoll ’09, a College of Com grad now working as a video producer for The Drive.

Cait was in Indianapolis last weekend for the 500, and ended up with some very cool behind-the-scenes footage of how Chris whips a pit crew into world-class shape. You can watch it by clicking on the image below.

Thanks to Cait, and to Mike Poorman ’82 for the heads up on this one.

 

A Legacy in Great Hands

It was hard to keep track of all the NFL Draft-related tweets in recent days, from the many messages celebrating Chris Godwin on his selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to congrats for all the other Nittany Lions who signed free-agent deals, to the tweets anticipating the many talented Lions who will feature in the draft over the next few years.

But one tweet in particular caught our attention. Mostly because it was a draft tweet that wasn’t really about the draft.

The author, of course, is Penn State receivers coach Josh Gattis. And what struck us was the simplicity of the tweet: Congratulating the three members of the 2016 receiving corps who have recently started new jobs. It just so happens that one of those jobs is “professional football player.”

We’re as excited as anyone to see what Chris Godwin—@CGtwelve if you’re not up on your Twitter handles—does in the NFL. But for Gattis, the priority was clear: Let’s hear it for all of our guys, whether they’re succeeding on or off the field. The other guys, in this case, Continue reading

Following Winning Footsteps

An annual reminder: We tend to leave recruiting news to the experts, but we’re happy to make an exception when National Signing Day offers up a story with a cool Penn State alumni angle. On Wednesday, Ellis Brooks gave us a good one.

Brooks’ commitment to Penn State was something of a surprise. The four-star linebacker received a scholarship offer less than two weeks ago, took an official visit to Happy Valley five days later, and on Jan. 30 announced for the Nittany Lions. One thing that probably didn’t hurt: his relationship with former Big Ten-title-winning QB Michael Robinson ’04, a longtime family friend. That picture? It’s from Robinson’s college graduation. The little dude? That’s Brooks. When he was five, he traveled to State College with his father, Keith, for Robinson’s commencement.

Now, Brooks is a Nittany Lion himself. In a few years, perhaps Robinson will be the one in attendance for Brooks’ graduation—and maybe for a Big Ten championship or two, as well.