PSU Camp Stories Part I

Every camp has to have its stories right? And although there was no campfire in the Fantasy Football Camp's hospitality suite, there were plenty of great football tales being told by Nittany Lions like Larry Johnson, Blair Thomas, Rick Sayles and Tim Bronish, among others.

Interviewing with Paterno

Coach Larry Johnson: Coach Johnson talked about preparing for his position interview with Coach Paterno. Previously a high school coach, Johnson said he prepared for every football-related question he could think of, anticipating that Paterno would grill him over his answers. For two weeks he rehearsed his responses for his interview.

On the day of the interview Paterno invited Johnson into his office. They sat down and Paterno simply said, "I am here to offer you the position." Coach Johnson said Paterno did not ask him on football-related question. Instead they talked at length about life, family and what Penn State represents. Coach Johnson said, "I was amazed he was willing to take a risk on me, but he trusted the indiviudals who recommended me to him. That says a lot."

Interestingly enough, during that interview Paterno told him he was only coaching for "four more years" -- that was eleven years ago.

Show 'Em Your Pearly Whites

Tim Bronish: A walk-on at Penn State in the mid-80s and a member of the 1985 squad who went undefeated in the regular season, Bronish talked about his first few days with the PSU program. "When I walked in they gave me a head-to-toe physical. They measured my body and took a cast of my teeth," he explained. "I said 'I understand why you took the physical and why you took my measurements, but why on Earth did you cast my teeth?"

The trainer responded, "We casted your teeth so when Shane Conlan hits you and knocks them out we know where to put them back. Welcome to Penn State football."

He still has the cast of his teeth.

Husker Reflections of PSU

Coach Bill Kenney: Coach Kenney previously coached at Nebraska for Tom Osbourne as a graduate asistant. When Kenney was looking at full-time positions, he talked with Coach Osbourne about the opportunity at PSU. Coach Osbourne reflected on preparing his team to play PSU in Happy Valley, saying Penn State was like no other team Nebraska had faced.

He went on to say how hard Penn State played opponents and that they were "a team that tears the skin off of you."

I'm Open!

Brad Scovill: The starting tight end for the 1978 Nittany Lions, Scovill led the team in receptions that year. In the 1979 Sugar Bowl, he reflected on PSU going up the middle and falling short of the National Title against Alabama.

"Hindsight is interesting," he explained. "If we had only play-actioned there and hit the tight end on the wing, we likely be talking about three national championships at Penn State." Scovill says the stack at the line opened him up on the endzone hitch route.

What a Difference a Year Makes

Kirk Diehl: Penn State's Equipment Manager talked about the renewal of the Nike contract back in 2004. That year, PSU was coming off some rough seasons and the Nike contract was coming due for renewal. Nike told PSU that the Nittany Lions would not be getting the same structured deal as they previously had, since teams are ranked by points based on Nike apparal sales and at the time PSU had dropped to No. 15 nationally.

Coach Paterno apparently got Nike to provide an extension on the contract and then the 2005 season occured. PSU shot back to No. 3 in Nike sales with the BCS season and got the same deal from Nike they had previously.

Making A Commitment

Blair Thomas: Thomas talked about his recruitment and decision to go to Penn State. A highly recruited prospect, he recalled Paterno having doubts about his ability to handle the academic rigors of PSU, despite his impressive athleticism.

Paterno came to his house and sat with he and his mother and expressed his concerns. Thomas' mother asked him, "Are prepared to do this?" Blair affirmed his commitment to doing what had to be done on the field and in the classroom, which apparently was enough for Paterno. The rest, as they say, is history.

Stay tuned for more stories out of camp.


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