With the final practice wrapping up this afternoon at Celebration High School near Orlando, Penn State is ready to get into game mode. Coach Franklin will give one last press conference tomorrow morning and then the next time we see him and his team will be on the field at the Citrus Bowl.
On Sunday morning the team spent a couple of hours at Fun Spot amusement park in Orlando. Pairing up with local children, the players guided their buddy through the park and shared smiles and good times.
Here are pictures from practice and also Fun Spot, which illustrate that the trip has been a mixture of business and pleasure.
Special teams coach Phil Galiano and two important special team performers, KJ Hamler and Blake Gillikin, fielded questions from the media.
KJ Hamler mentioned that he currently weighs 175 pounds and would like to add ten pounds before next season. He also was asked about some of the moves that he makes on the field, “The stuff just happens. It’s all instinct.”
“The game is way faster than in high school,” Hamler said when asked about the transition from watching last season to playing a major role this year. He should know something about speed, as in most cases Hamler is the faster of the 22 players on the field.
During the event at Fun Spot there were many players from Penn State mingling and hanging out with Kentucky players. KJ Hamler was asked if he had any friends on the Wildcat roster. “I know a couple of guys from Detroit on their team, so we’re cool. It’s not like there’s a game today or anything like that so we’re just all out here for the kids.”
Punter Blake Gillikin talked about his process of preparation for the game, saying “I try to watch as much film as I can on both their cover and return units so I can help out coach Galiano and our staff as much as I can. It’s not my job to be responsible for scheme and stuff like that but I just want to be comfortable with what they do.”
Here is a video of the two players talking about the portion of the day geared toward fun, the amusement park, which featured several roller coasters.
Special teams coach Phil Galiano spoke about KJ Hamler’s maturation on the field this season. He explained that while it would be nice to have Hamler return every kick, there is more to the decision of whether to take the ball out of the end zone than just how deep the ball was kicked.
With practices wrapped up for the week, and just a walk-through set for tomorrow, Penn State will turn its attention to the game.