In case you’ve been in a coma for the last 24 hours, Penn State announced Thursday morning that it would revert to the much-beloved tradition of uniforms that don’t have players’ names stitched to the backs.
Head coach James Franklin, who’d been planning to bring back the tradition since he first got to State College, said he had discussed this matter with a close group of people, including Brad “Spider” Caldwell.
“This is something I’ve had a lot of conversations with Spider about,” said Franklin.
Caldwell and his wife, Karen, stitched the names onto the backs of Penn State players’ jerseys back in 2012 as Penn State’s football equipment and facilities manager under the direction of then-head coach Bill O’Brien.
Caldwell was one of a small group also invited to speak to players about what the tradition of nameless jerseys meant the morning the official announcement was made.
“I’m going to be honest with you, when I first got here, I had a lot of meetings with people — like Spider,” said Franklin. “Those were hard meetings. Those were emotional meetings.”
He said it was very important to have Caldwell there that morning with the former players, though joked that he did have to warn the notoriously enthusiastic facilities coordinator to keep his speech to about two minutes.
Franklin said they would not be the ones tasked with the labor of removing all of the names this time around, but one player thought it would be meaningful for Caldwell to revert his jersey.
Receiver Matt Zanellato, one of just six remaining players who underwent the original jersey change, tweeted out that he had “personally spoken” to Caldwell and made him promise to personally take his name off the jersey.
“He was the one who put the name on my jersey,” Zanellato said. “He gets to take it off.”
I also made Spider Caldwell promise to personally take my name off the jersey.He was 1 the put the name on my jersey,he gets to take it off— Matt Zanellato #80 (@mzanellato) July 16, 2015
Paris Palmer weighs in
Franklin said junior college transfer Paris Palmer, who arrived at Penn State in January, looks better after a few months of workouts.
“I put Paris (on the scale),” he said. “...He just weighed in at 299.4 pounds. And if there’s anybody that doesn’t believe me, I’ll get in there and put him on the scale.”
Palmer was listed at 6-foot-7, 278 pounds when he transferred from Lackawanna College. A main goal of the coaching staff for him upon his arrival was to get him bigger — and to keep that weight on despite his long frame. His size is desperately needed on an offensive line searching for a left tackle — current competition for the starting role is between Palmer, redshirt freshman Chance Sorrell and redshirt junior Albert Hall.
Kyle Carter: An Observation
Senior tight end Kyle Carter is one of four returning tight ends who are thus far in the hunt for a bigger role following the exit of predecessor Jesse James to the NFL.
Carter, a redshirt senior who ESPN’s Mel Kiper thought to be the No. 2 senior tight end draft prospect in the country at the beginning of July, was pictured Thursday with his left foot in a walking boot in a group photo of Franklin’s meeting with former lettermen and current players.
From LRT: A photo of those lettermen along with the six remaining players from the last season PSU wore no names. pic.twitter.com/ZFi8i9VvFK— Derek Levarse (@TLdlevarse) July 16, 2015
However, Carter was also pictured later that day handing out posters in downtown State College with no boot, and also pictured working out with teammates in United States Marine Corps drills Friday morning, also without a boot.
Our standard 6 AM Friday run was traded for a leadership workshop & workout by the Marines. pic.twitter.com/oNbLKAu7tx— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) July 17, 2015
By policy, Penn State football does not discuss injuries.
Like Brother, Like Brother
Brandon Hackenberg is keeping the apparent family tradition of playing football at Penn State — with a twist.
The high school soccer player (that’s footballer, for the folks across the pond) verbally committed to the Nittany Lions men’s soccer team on Friday.
Proud and honored to announce that I have verbally committed to continue my soccer career at the Pennsylvania State University #WeAre ðŸ”µ⚪️— Brandon Hackenberg (@bhackenberg3) July 17, 2015
Hackenberg is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound center back who plays for Richmond United’s U18 team. He is set to play his senior season this year.
As for his older brother, Christian Hackenberg was just named to the Walter Camp National Player of the Year Award watch list, his third preseason watch list selection. He’s also on the Maxwell Award watch list for the College Football MVP and the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s top quarterback.
Hackenberg is back in town after participating as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy last weekend.