Green grass, blue skies and clangin’ weights.
It must be almost time for football season.
Penn State held its 13th annual Lift for Life event Saturday morning, and it was everything players and fans alike have come to expect out of the charitable effort, which raised $119,303.
It’s a first look at the team and at the new freshmen, who didn’t participate in drills until an end-of-session tug of war match.
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That doesn’t mean, however, that these newcomers haven’t been doing some weight clangin’ of their own.
“We’ve had them two weeks, and we hit them full go right away from the beginning,” said Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt. “They worked out five days last week, everybody else did three.”
Galt said they’ve adapted well, considering the transition.
“When they come in, a lot of programs, what you have to do is what they call ‘re-recruit’,” he said. “Like, ‘Okay, we were nice to you (during the original recruiting process), now its time to get to work.’
“These kids, you don’t have to re-recruit them.”
Galt said he has hit them with everything he’s had for the last two weeks. That includes doing the same workouts as the older guys, like sled, hill and sand workouts. The intensity level and both the emotional and physical adjustment, he said, takes some getting used to.
Other players like tight end Mike Gesicki and State College native Jack Haffner (who has seen many freshman classes come in to the program as a young fan in the community and then as a player), echoed the sentiment that the freshmen are a “tight-knit group” and fun to lead — and Haffner said as an area native, he feels a bit obligated to show them around town.
The day of running a kid’s camp at the event must’ve been a nice little break for the rookies after a whirlwind, grueling two weeks since the start of summer classes.
The older players stepped up behind veterans like Anthony Zettel (who cranked out 31 repetitions at the 225-pound bench press in front of a rapt audience of a couple hundred fans) and Ben Kline, who is the president of Penn State’s Uplifting Athletes chapter.
Key moments of the friendly competition included Brian Gaia’s 33 bench reps, which beat Zettel’s when they went head-to-head (his patriotic pants and headband may have given him some firepower on that one).
Zettel vs. Gaia. Kids leaning against the fence to watch this one. 31 reps, 33 reps, respectively. pic.twitter.com/ubApLXINXL— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) July 11, 2015
Austin Johnson stared down Chance Sorrell during the big-boy-battle 400-pound “farmer” lift, and did five shrugs with the weight after Sorrell dropped his bar.
Linebacker and Central Mountain product Von Walker besting running back Akeel Lynch in both the bench press and the relay race.
“I think he cheated on the start,” laughed Lynch.
Fine for a casual event, but Lynch has to keep his feet quick, as freshman back Saquon Barkley is now on campus.
Galt praised the 6-foot, 217-pound Barkley immediately for putting in extra work, and said Barkley benched 315 pounds six times during preliminaries.
“I think he ran like a 4.47 (40-yard dash),” Galt said. “So he’s got all the tools. Big, fast, strong, great worker, already shown some leadership, he’s very inquisitive. ... He does extra already. Nobody does extra right now.”
Barkley may be a full package, but that didn’t stop the upperclassmen from completely obliterating the freshmen during the event’s closing tug-of-war match.