PSU Set to "Hit the Ground Running"

The Nittany Lions check in for training camp Sunday and will hold their first practice Monday. Head coach Bill O'Brien explains how things will go the next couple of days.

Penn State's preseason camp officially starts Monday. But Lasch Building will be buzzing with activity Sunday, as the Nittany Lions officially report for the 2013 season.

So what goes on once the players check in at Lasch?

“There's a lot of physicals, paper-work stuff, compliance office (matters),” head coach Bill O'Brien said. “…It's a lot of administrative things.”

But the ho-hum of those mundane tasks (and moving into the training camp dorm) will be broken up by the first official squad meeting of 2013.

“That's when you set the tone for the 2013 team,” O'Brien said. “Here's what we're shooting for. … Remind them of the rules and being on time. Things like that.”

Monday brings the first of 29 preseason practices, the first five of which will include no contact per NCAA rules.

“We'll crank it up,” O'Brien said. (But) you're only in helmets, there's no contact, so we'll practice them for a couple of hours and have meetings. You're only allowed to practice once (per day). So basically you have to do that the first five days. The first two days you're only in helmets. Days three, four and five are helmets and shoulder pads.”

The first five practices will take Penn State through Aug. 9, which also marks the date of final exams for the second summer semester. Two-a-days, including full-pad practices, begin Aug. 10 (next Saturday). (In related news, Media Day, which features a 2:30 p.m. practice, is Aug. 8.)

Since this will be the Nittany Lions' second training camp under O'Brien, he expects things to go more smoothly than they did a year ago.

“Hopefully we hit the ground running and we're not running around like a bunch of chickens with our heads cut off,” O'Brien said. “We know where to go, we know where the drill is, we understand the pace of practice -- we're ready.

“The younger guys are going to have to catch up; they haven't gone through it,” he added. “But the older guys will show 'em the way.”

O'Brien said the spilt between teaching the ropes to the true freshmen is “pretty equal” between the coaching staff and the veteran players.

“The staff has a big part of that in meetings with the new players and explaining this is how it goes: once we start, we're going and we practice fast,” O'Brien said. “And then the older players in the locker room (say), 'Look … we're sprinting from drill to drill. If we don't, that guy with the whistle around his neck is gonna start practice over.' ”

The training camp roster is limited to 105 players until the first day of the fall semester (Aug. 26). The Nittany Lions open the 2013 season against Syracuse at The Meadowlands Aug. 31.

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