The mood was already jovial at Nittanyville on Thursday night as hundreds of Penn Staters ate pizza, tossed footballs and danced to music at the tent village outside Gate A at Beaver Stadium.
The crowd had reason to get more festive around 7 p.m., when head football coach James Franklin paid a visit to the students camping out for Saturday’s game against Ohio State. After posing for some photographs, Franklin addressed the crowd. He and the football team appreciate the support and dedication of the campers for the game, he said.
“I think you guys are a little bit psychotic, which I love,” Franklin said, getting laughs and a cheer.
Franklin spoke for a few minutes about how special the people at Penn State are and led a “We are” chant before leaving. The tight ends from the team were going to his house for dinner and he had to get back.
He did not leave right away, though. Franklin stopped and posed for photos, even taking a selfie while surrounded by the crowd of campers.
“Unbelievable,” senior Tim Sullivan, of Montoursville, said of getting a photo with the coach. “Something I thought would never happen.”
Sullivan is camping with senior Matt Morris and junior Alana Dolce, both of New Jersey. All had photos taken with the coach, and it was the first time at Nittanyville for the trio.
Participation has been fun, “better than I thought,” Morris said.
“So far it’s been cold but worth it,” Dolce said. “I’ve been wanting to do it since freshman year, and doing this for Ohio State is worth it.”
Nittanyville has 812 residents and 93 tents this year, an increase from last year’s total, Nittanyville public relations officer Darian Somers said.