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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Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., July 28

We can’t wait to hear what James Franklin has to say at Big Ten Media Days.

Same for York County native and Big Ten newcomer Randy Edsall of Maryland.

 James Franklin should play the suit and the microphone well from Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.

James Franklin should play the suit and the microphone well from Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.

So join me at 8 tonight to break down all of the day’s happenings in Chicago. What are people saying about what all the coaches are saying? Will there be any sparks in response to Franklin jabbing Edsall and Rutgers’ head coach Kyle Flood about the Nittany Lions’ expected recruiting reach and expected success?

We will talk about all of the day’s happenings, as well as hit on recruiting, the upcoming season and exactly who will play linebacker and offensive tackle if a couple of big names get hurt.

If you can’t make it at 8, drop in a question or comment throughout the day.

To get ready, look over the media picks for preseason All-Big Ten honors. Where would you rank a Nittany Lion higher?

And if you missed it, check out our slideshow last week from Franklin and the Lions’ visit to Penn State Hershey’s Children Hospital.

Posted in Big Ten, Chat, Fans, Football, Frank Bodani, Injuries, James Franklin, Maryland, Penn State, Randy Edsall, Recruiting, Rutgers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Slideshow: Penn State football team visits Children’s Hospital


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Some 120 Penn State football players and coaches visited the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital on Wednesday.

Players and coaches signed autographs and interacted with patients, and they got a tour of the facility.

Click here to see a gallery of photos from the event.

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Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 15

We’re chatting Penn State football on a new night this week, and it’s the perfect time to catch up on all of the happenings from last weekend’s Lift for Life event.

Tight end Jesse James was one of the standouts at Penn State's Lift for Life event.

Tight end Jesse James was one of the standouts at Penn State’s Lift for Life event.

Who looked the strongest and most impressive in the team competitions?

Who gave the best interview?

And what do you think about offensive lineman Miles Dieffenbach and Dallastown linebacker Ben Kline having a shot to return this fall from significant injuries?

Talk to me tonight from 8 to 9 or drop in a question or comment any time until then.

We also will update any recruiting happenings and rumors and also look ahead to the Croke Park Classic in Ireland.

In the meantime, check out my Lift for Life stories and my column on one of the main men behind Penn State’s season-opener in Ireland.

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Penn State gearing up for Ireland, recruiting

After several takes and much coaxing, Frank Bodani finally talked in his Irish accent in this week’s PSU football podcast. (Spoiler alert: It’s not a good Irish accent, but he’s working on it.) We also get caught up on Ben Kline, Lift for Life and recruiting.

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A Penn State surprise in the preseason hype machine

The preseason award and “Watch Lists” have begun rolling out, and there’s a big emphasis on Penn State’s quarterback-to-tight end combination.

Along with one pretty big surprise.

Jesse James, all 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds of him, is getting plenty of preseason hype.

Jesse James, all 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds of him, is getting plenty of preseason hype.

As expected, sophomore quarterback star Christian Hackenberg is getting plenty of early hype leading up to the season, such as making the initial list of candidates for the Maxwell Award, presented to college football’s top player. The award will be given for the 78th time and the Nittany Lions are tied for the national lead with seven previous winners, the most recent being Larry Johnson in 2002.

Hackenberg also was named the Big Ten’s best passing quarterback by the Sporting News. He threw for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns with 11 interceptions last season, breaking a dozen school freshman passing records.

And two of his top targets for the upcoming season? Penn State’s tight end position is loaded, headlined by 6-foot-7 junior Jesse James, who is the Lions’ leading returner in receptions (25) and receiving yards (333).

Continue reading “A Penn State surprise in the preseason hype machine” »

Posted in Awards/honors, Big Ten, Christian Hackenberg, Deion Barnes, Football, Injuries, Jesse James, Jordan Lucas, Penn State | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lions prepare for camp without Ben Kline

Jim Seip and Frank Bodani discuss the latest news involving Penn State football.

Posted in Ben Kline, Big Ten, Christian Hackenberg, Depth chart, Frank Bodani, Jim Seip, Maryland, Podcast, Randy Edsall, Rutgers | Leave a comment

Penn State football chat, June 30, 8 p.m.

The games begin again in less than two months.

How much will Penn State miss longtime equipment manager Brad "Spider" Caldwell?

How much will Penn State miss longtime equipment manager Brad “Spider” Caldwell?

Actually, Penn State football camp is only five weeks away. What’s on your mind with the Nittany Lions as we head toward the holiday weekend?

Join me tonight at 8 to chat about the team’s prospects behind new coach James Franklin and star quarterback Christian Hackenberg. We’ll also hit on recruiting and anything concerning Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, the NCAA and Gov. Tom Corbett.

Also, we will make time to honor retiring equipment manager Brad “Spider” Caldwell. Bring your best memories and stories.

If you can’t join tonight, remember to leave a question or comment throughout the day.

Posted in Christian Hackenberg, coaching staff, Fans, Football, Frank Bodani, James Franklin, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, NCAA, Penn State, Recruiting | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments