O-Lineman Dieffenbach Sings Praises

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Penn State's senior-to-be had good things to say about his new coach and former coach. He was the first Lion to talk to the media since the change at the top of the PSU program.

Penn State guard Miles Dieffenbach, the first player to address reporters since James Franklin was hired as head coach over the weekend, said during a conference call Tuesday afternoon that the new guy made an immediate impression during a team meeting Sunday night.

“He's a real players' coach,” Dieffenbach said. “He really cares about everybody. He's very exciting, up-tempo. That's something we all like.”

Franklin, who according to Dieffenbach gave an “overview” of what's going to be expected going forward, is a “high energy” guy.

“He's really excited to be here,” Dieffenbach said. “He preached on the relationships he's going to build.”

Which is, of course, a two-way street. The players must acquaint themselves with new people, learn new schemes.

“It's our job as a team to buy in 100 percent,” Dieffenbach said.

He doesn't believe that will be a problem. When the team gathered Sunday after returning from holiday break, he said, “It was like nothing had changed. … Team morale has never been better.”

He said the players have been lifting on their own, and that the workout program everyone followed under former strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald -- who followed head coach Bill O'Brien to the Houston Texans -- is expected to be “pretty similar to what it was before.”

And it was there that Dieffenbach dropped the name of Dwight Galt, the Vanderbilt strength and conditioning coach, who is expected to join the Penn State staff. He is also a guy who mentored Fitzgerald, when the two of them were at Maryland.

No official staff appointments have been made, though Dieffenbach said he believes the new assistants will be named “at least in the next week or so.” It is not expected that offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, a guy who had made a tremendous impact the last two years after O'Brien coaxed him out of retirement, will be retained.

Interim head coach Larry Johnson, the defensive line coach and last holdover from the staff of the late Joe Paterno, departed Tuesday for Ohio State.

In all Dieffenbach and his fellow seniors have had five head coaches, including interim bosses -- Paterno, Tom Bradley, O'Brien, Johnson and now Franklin.

“Looking back on it, we have been through a whole lot,” Dieffenbach said. “It builds character, builds strength.”

He believes that the transition two years ago, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, was “a lot harder,” though he did admit that the last few weeks have been “a little crazy.”

After O'Brien announced his decision to go to the Texans, Dieffenbach took to Twitter and wrote, “I'll love Coach O'Brien forever. He will always be a part of Penn State. One of the greatest men I've ever known.”

On Tuesday Dieffenbach called O'Brien “a great guy” and “great friend,” and believes he will have a “lifelong” relationship with his former coach.

“He really cared about us as players,” Dieffenbach said. “He's a terrific guy and a terrific coach.”

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