Just as we settled in with our toes in the sand, ready to tackle a summer full of fun in the sun, James Franklin gave us all a warm fuzzy moment. Early last week, there was a video across the Twitterverse of our mighty Lions hard at work on the practice field on campus. Towards the end, they had all gathered and FrankLion asked who had summer jobs. A few hands shot up, and in the back, one man began to reel off a set of hours like many of us trying to make ends meet. In a way that only a father of 120 sons could, the head coach immediately told the hard-working walk-on long snapper, full-time student, and local eatery bar back to quit, and with that, Kyle Vasey earned his full scholarship heading into the 2018 season! Teammates mobbed him, and other coaches gave him solid hugs. It became the feel-good story of the week and pulled Coach Franklin even closer to our hearts.
It was also a reminder that although the countdown to September 1st and Appalachian State stands at a robust 75 days until kickoff, that we are truly in an age where the college football season never sleeps. As we’re off on summer vacations across the country, our mighty Nittany Lions were dripping sweat and running conditioning drills in Happy Valley. I’ve often referred to it as the ‘off-season that never sleeps’ over the past few years but after careful evaluation, I’ve concluded there never really is an off-season in major college football programs. Not at Penn State anyway, and most definitely not when you’ve got your sights set on the College Football Playoffs. There may be long weekends here and there when trips home to mom and pop dominate social media, but there’s never much time in between those coveted home cooked meals and getting back to the grind under the watchful eye of Dwight Galt and crew with the occasional FrankLion sighting sprinkled in.
The official start of the 2018 preseason camp is just under two months away and a whole set of freshmen are moved in and about to get their first real taste of what being the beating heart of Nittany Nation is all about. This year’s Lift For Life is less than two weeks away and there is no better time on the summer calendar to introduce Penn Staters to the new guys as the best fans and family in all the land.
Despite those all too brief visits home, this team has been quietly under the radar all year long in preparation for another run up the mountain. The glow of being Fiesta Bowl Champs is nothing more than that nowadays. Back-to-back 11-win campaigns are just a distant memory and the season that never sleeps keeps on chugging along. Now by no means am I wishing the summer away. But occasionally, we stumble upon the subtle reminder that summer is really just the runway that leads us to another season of Penn State Football and by all accounts, the 2018 season should be a memorable one.