Nittany Notes: Inside Junior Day

What goes on at a Penn State Junior Day? We have had numerous people ask us that very question. To get the most thorough answer, we tapped into several observers who were on hand Saturday when the Nittany Lions held their most recent Junior Day.

Junior Days are invitation-only opportunities for various members of the upcoming class of high school seniors to get a look at the Penn State football program and for the PSU coaching staff to see them in person.

The players and their families cover travel expenses. Some players make it a day trip. Others will arrive the night before and stay at a hotel. Still others arrive the day of the event and then stay in a hotel that night before heading home the following day.

Saturday's event was scheduled to start at 11 a.m. sharp in the Squad Room at Lasch Building. But apparently everyone got the memo that Joe Paterno prefers athletes to show up early for meetings, so most prospects were in place well before 11 a.m. To pass the time, the 25 or so recruits were shown the highlight video from Penn State's 2007 season — twice.

At about 11 a.m., Paterno came in and talked to the entire group for five to 10 minutes. Then recruiting coordinator Mike McQueary broke the large assembly into smaller groups, and each cycled through four different activities.

They included:

• An "information session" with Todd Kulka, who oversees Penn State's academic support program. This included a discussion of PSU's commitment to academics, the programs and people who are in place to assist football players with their studies, and a tour of the program's academic support facilities.

• An information session with strength and conditioning coach John Thomas. This also included a tour of Penn State's 13,000-square foot weight room, he largest single sport collegiate conditioning facility in the United States.

• An information session in the training room with the training staff.

• A tour of campus led by McQueary.

After the morning sessions the groups came back to together and everyone headed to the team's training table for lunch.

For the afternoon session, players were broken into groups by position. Then each group went to its respective position room in Lasch Building where the Penn State coach who handles that position talked to them.

Next, everyone worked their way back to the Squad Room. When they arrived, four current players -- receiver Brett Brackett, defensive end Maurice Evans, running back Stephfon Green and true freshman linebacker Michael Mauti -- formed a panel to answer questions from the prospects.

Quarterback Daryll Clark and receiver Derrick Williams were originally scheduled to be on the panel, too. But the day's program was running late, and they were excused to attend to other commitments.

The prospects were encouraged not to pull punches when asking questions of the current players. In fact the coaches left the room for this session. According to one observer, a particularly probing question was: "Has there been anything about your career so far that you wish would have went differently?"

Green gave what many considered to be the best answer of the entire session. He said he "pouted" most of last season while he was redshirting as a true freshman and that he was angry when he learned he would be redshirting.

But he added that in hindsight, he was glad he did sit out, because he got faster and stronger and was able to learn the playbook. And now he has four full seasons left to play. He is, however, anxious to hit the field this spring.

And the panel discussion brought to an end the formal portion of the Junior Day.

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