PSU’s Franklin getting in game mode ahead of Croke Park Classic

Penn State coach James Franklin speaks during his weekly news conference Tuesday in State College a few hours before the team was scheduled to leave for Dublin for the Croke Park Classic against Central Florida on Saturday. (Centre Daily Times -- Nabil K. Mark )

Penn State coach James Franklin speaks during his weekly news conference Tuesday in State College a few hours before the team was scheduled to leave for Dublin for the Croke Park Classic against Central Florida on Saturday. (Centre Daily Times — Nabil K. Mark )


While he wants his players to enjoy the experience the trip to Ireland will bring, Penn State coach James Franklin was adamant that the team’s priorities remain Saturday’s game against Central Florida in the Croke Park Classic.

“Number one, we’re going to play a game and so is Central Florida,” Franklin said in Tuesday’s teleconference. “We’re going to deal with all the same issues, flying to another country and the time zones and all of those things. So I think that’s helpful. It’s not like you’re flying somewhere and playing a team in their element.”

The coach acknowledged the unique setting of traveling 3,300 miles to play in another country. Still, he wants a game-day approach to the trip.

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“This is not going to be a once‑in‑a‑lifetime experience. For us, this is a business trip to go play a football game no different than if we were playing at State College High School,” he said. “But this trip is not about enjoying the countryside. This is an opportunity to take a special trip. I think it’s going to be great for the fans, but we’re going to play a football game. There will be some activities we have, but very little of that.”

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Ki-Jana and the Rose Bowl 20 years later

Penn State All-American running back Ki-Jana Carter has been selected for induction into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, joining legendary coaches Knute Rockne and Dick Vermeil.

Joe Paterno's last undefeated season was sparked by tailback Ki-Jana Carter, now a Rose Bowl Hall of Famer, 20 years later.

Joe Paterno’s last undefeated season was sparked by tailback Ki-Jana Carter, now a Rose Bowl Hall of Famer, 20 years later.

Carter was a key member of the 1995 Rose Bowl Championship squad that capped off a perfect 12-0 season with a 38-20 win over Oregon on Jan. 2, 1995.

Coach Joe Paterno’s 1994 squad, led by first-team All-Americans Carter, Kyle Brady, Kerry Collins, Bobby Engram and Jeff Hartings, will be recognized at the home-opener against Akron on Saturday, Sept. 6 as part of their 20-year reunion. Kickoff is set for noon at Beaver Stadium for Coach James Franklin’s first home game.

The Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on December 30 at the Pasadena Convention Center, two days before the 101st Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual.

“It’s a true honor from the Tournament of Roses and the Rose Bowl committee to be selected for induction into the Hall of Fame,” Carter said. “Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl was everything and I always dreamed about playing in the Rose Bowl. To play in the Rose Bowl and be the MVP of the game, it was awesome, but now it’s the ultimate honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. It is pretty overwhelming.

“This is an honor that I share with all of my teammates, it just shows how special that year was,” Carter added. “It was only our second year in the conference and we go undefeated and to the Rose Bowl, that’s pretty special. Without my linemen, my tight ends, my quarterback and the receivers all throwing blocks out there for me, I wouldn’t be here. It’s awesome that this is coming up now because our 1994 team is being honored at the Akron game and I will have time to reflect and share this honor with them.”

Carter, who finished second in the 1994 Heisman Trophy voting, earned co-MVP honors in the Rose Bowl after rushing for 156 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. He ran for an 83-yard touchdown on the first offensive play of the game, which is the third-longest run in Rose Bowl history and the longest run in Penn State bowl history.

The 1994 Nittany Lions won their first Big Ten Championship in just their second year in the conference. Penn State became the first Big Ten team to post a perfect 12-0 mark, making the Nittany Lions the first conference team to post an unblemished record since the 1968 Ohio State team. The 1994 Lions were a record setting bunch, breaking 11 Penn State records and seven Big Ten records. Penn State’s 48.1 scoring average in conference games is a record that still stands today.

Carter’s Rose Bowl performance capped an outstanding junior season in which he led the country with a 7.8 yards per carry average. He also finished fourth nationally in rushing (139.9), second in scoring (10.8 ppg) and fifth in all-purpose yardage (158.4). Carter led the Big Ten in all three categories.

Carter was runner-up to Rashaan Salaam of Colorado for the Heisman Trophy and a finalist for the Maxwell Award. His 1,539 yards rushing in 1994 remains the third-best season total in Penn State history, and 23 touchdowns are tied for second to Lydell Mitchell’s 29 TDs in 1971.

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PSU bound for Ireland

Frank Bodani and Jim Seip discuss news surrounding Penn State and Big Ten football about a week before the Lions fly to Ireland for the season-opening game against Central Florida.

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Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., Aug. 18

The Nittany Lions are beginning to hit the homestretch of preseason camp. They leave for Dublin, Ireland a week from tomorrow.

The Lions are stacked at tailback. Where does Zach Zwinak fit into the plans?

The Lions are stacked at tailback. Where does Zach Zwinak fit into the plans?

Let’s chat about how James Franklin and his Lions have fared so far and what we may expect from them over the next two weeks leading up to the opener against Central Florida.

We know the offensive line would be an issue, but how much has that been complicated by a banged-up Donovan Smith? How much will the defense be upgraded this fall with new coordinator Bob Shoop?

We’ll talk about that and more, including recruiting, tonight from 8 to 9.

In the meantime, check out the most recent Penn State podcast from Jim Seip and myself which goes in-depth about Adam Breneman and how the offense will deal with his latest setback.

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How can PSU overcome Breneman injury?

Tight end Adam Breneman has an injury, one that could keep him out of action for multiple games or even the entire season. How will the Nittany Lions overcome the injury? Reporters Jim Seip and Frank Bodani discuss the latest with Penn State football in the most recent podcast.

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How many elite cornerbacks will the Lions land?

Penn State now finds itself in a most unique recruiting situation.

It just landed one of the top cornerbacks in the nation … and is in prime condition to land another in the coming months.

And maybe even a third, if everything rolls right.

 Jordan Lucas believes Penn State is turning into "DBU." Their elite cornerback recruiting may back that up.

Jordan Lucas believes Penn State is turning into “DBU.” Their elite cornerback recruiting may back that up.

This all comes after some were beginning to wonder if James Franklin and the Nittany Lions would get any of their highest-profile defensive back prospects in this 2014 recruiting cycle.

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Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., Aug. 11

One week of preseason camp is over, so let’s chat about where James Franklin and the Nittany Lions are headed.

Youngster Geno Lewis is being counted on to lead even younger Lions receivers.

Youngster Geno Lewis is being counted on to lead even younger Lions receivers.

Join me at 8 on Monday evening to talk about the progress of the offensive line and those young receivers, as well as the ever-important backups to quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Plus, we’ll hit on recruiting and the sooner-than-expected decision and commitment of top cornerback John Reid.

And are you heading to Ireland to watch the Lions and Central Florida? Will it be coach George O’Leary’s last game? Daily Record photographer Jason Plotkin and I are going, so I want to hear your best travel details to get us ready.

In the meantime, check out my column from today on the value of Bill Belton … the most versatile Nittany Lion.

Former Penn State lineman Pete Curkendall and his wife are raising a family of special needs children.

Former Penn State lineman Pete Curkendall and his wife are raising a family of special needs children.

Plus, it’s always the right time to talk about former Nittany Lions doing good. And no one shows that more than Pete Curkendall. Check out his remarkable family story here.

And here is another piece on Curkendall’s up-and-down career and his after-Penn State connection with Joe Paterno.

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A Calling to Help: The power in this Lions’ pride pushes on

He is half the size of a typical 8 year old.

He cannot eat or talk. He cannot take a bath without being wrapped in protective plastic. He cannot see out of one eye.

Former Penn State lineman Pete Curkendall hugs his son, Sergio, during a recent hospital visit. width=

Who knows how long he will survive?

Sergio is one of six blessings bestowed upon a former Penn State defensive lineman.

Thirty years ago, Pete Curkendall was just coming into his own as a fun-loving, ultra-talented and yet disinterested member of a dominating defense. He was an underachieving and yet key part of a national title winner.

Now, Curkendall and his wife, Renee, are devoted protectors and even saviors. They have six children, five with severe physical, mental or emotional disabilities. Four are adopted.

Those kids are overcoming everything from AIDS to brain cancer to needing a new heart. Doctors didn’t think any of them, except for biological child Cody, would survive long-term.

And yet they are thriving for the most part, one of the most unique blended families you will find.

“It’s like watching little miracles continuously happening,” Pete Curkendall said. “You can limit a child or let a child fly in education, relationship-wise, whatever. We never tried to limit them.”

Nettie, now 24, started the Curkendall's life of caring for and adopting severely disabled children.

Nettie, now 24, started the Curkendalls’ life of caring for and adopting severely disabled children.

Plus, here is a separate piece looking back on his Penn State career and his surprising connection to Joe Paterno long after his playing days.

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Penn State football chat, 8 p.m Tuesday, Aug. 5

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg throws during team practice on media day Monday in State College. (Kate Penn — Daily Record/Sunday News)

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg throws during team practice on media day Monday in State College. (Kate Penn — Daily Record/Sunday News)


Another Penn State football media day has come and gone, and it’s time for the Nittany Lions to get to work.


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James Franklin brought his high-energy personality to the field for the first day of practice, mostly keeping the media — and UCF coach George O’Leary — in the dark about game-plan specifics. But he did open up a little about how the team plans to use quarterback Christian Hackenberg in his second year with the Lions. Hint: It might be outside the pocket, from time to time.

Frank Bodani will be back at 8 p.m. Tuesday to talk about all this and more as the Lions prepare to open their first season under Franklin. Need more food for thought? Check out five things Frank says the Lions need to tackle before they take on O’Leary and the Knights in Dublin on Aug. 30.

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Podcast: Lions preseason practice begins next week

Penn State’s media day on Monday signals the start of Penn State’s preseason practice. Frank Bodani and Jim Seip talk about big questions surrounding preseason camp and some 2016 recruiting news.

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