Nittany Lions Intensify Preparations for 2009 Campaign With Start of Spring Practice
No Admission or Parking Fee for Blue-White Game on April 25
March 23, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., - The Penn State football team will begin on-field preparations for the 2009 campaign on Wednesday with the opening of spring practice.
Since classes resumed in mid-January, the Lasch Football Building and Holuba Hall have been hubs of activity, with the Nittany Lions hard at work with off-season weight training and conditioning. Penn State will culminate its 15 allotted spring practices with the highly-anticipated Blue-White Game presented by Donate Life Pennsylvania on Saturday, April 25. Kickoff is at 2:00 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. The contest can be heard on the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com
, the official website of Penn State Athletics.
Admission and parking for the Blue-White game are free as in previous years.
A little more than four months after the Blue-White game, Penn State opens its 123rd campaign, hosting Akron on Sept. 5. The Nittany Lions begin their 17th season of Big Ten Conference competition on Sept. 26, hosting Iowa.
The Nittany Lions (11-2) won their second Big Ten title and Bowl Championship berth in the past four years during the 2008 season. Penn State was No. 8 in the final Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, earning its 22nd final Top 10 ranking under Coach Joe Paterno. The Lions won at least 11 games for the 14th time under the Hall of Fame coach.
Penn State has earned one of the nation's Top 10 records since the start of the 2005 season, posting a 40-11 (78.4) mark, good for No. 9 nationally. The Nittany Lions have won 42 of their last 53 games overall, dating to the final two games of the 2004 season.
In his 44th season as head coach, and 60th on the Penn State coaching staff, Joe Paterno welcomes back 37 letterwinners and 10 starters from last year, as well as nine additional players with starting experience. The nine additional players with previous starts have a combined total of 47 amongst them.
Penn State returns 18 letterwinners on defense (four starters), 17 on offense (five starters) and punter Jeremy Boone, as well fifth-year senior linebacker Sean Lee, who missed last season with a knee injury. The Nittany Lions have lost the services of 20 lettermen for spring drills -- 11 on offense, eight on defense and placekicker Kevin Kelly.
Among the returnees are seven Nittany Lions who have earned All-Big Ten recognition: senior punter Jeremy Boone (first team in 2007), junior linebacker Navorro Bowman (first team in 2008), senior quarterback Daryll Clark (first team in 2008), senior defensive tackle Jared Odrick (first team in 2008), junior tailback Evan Royster (second team in 2008), junior guard Stefen Wisniewski (second team in 2008) and Lee (second team in 2007).
Bowman and Odrick are on the pre-season Watch List for the 2009 Rotary Lombardi Award. Clark was a semifinalist for the Maxwell and Davey O'Brien awards last year and Royster was a semifinalist for the 2008 Doak Walker Award.
The Blue-White Game is one of the nation's most popular spring football contests. More than 70,000 loyal and enthusiastic Penn State fans have attended the game the past two years, including a record crowd of 73,000 in 2008. More than 40,000 fans have attended the game in 10 of the past 13 years, with rainy conditions during the other three contests.
Numerous events will be held in conjunction with the Blue-White Game to celebrate Penn State football, including the popular pre-game autograph session with the players, the announcement of the spring football award winners as well as the recipients of the PNC Bank "Player of the Game" from last season.
Other events held in conjunction with Blue-White Weekend presented by Donate Life Pennsylvania will be announced at a later date.
Season tickets are available for the 2009 season. The Nittany Lions will host three teams that played in bowl games in 2008: Iowa (Sept. 26), Minnesota (Oct. 17-Homecoming), and Ohio State (Nov. 7). Beaver Stadium will host its 300th game when the Buckeyes visit for the always highly-anticipated clash between the border rivals.
For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can call 1-800-648-8269 (1-800-NITTANY).