Today, Penn State will hold its annual Pro Day inside Holuba Field. It represents a chance for NFL scouts and coaches to get an up close and personal evaluation of a collection of Nittany Lions on their home turf, as they vie to have their names called in April’s draft. For most of us though, it represents the final goodbye to a group that held this program together throughout its darkest hour. It is our last chance to eye the beauty of a Hackenberg-thrown deep pass (who, coincidentally, will be slinging those passes to former Lion, Derrick Moye, as he continues a journey of his own in search of a home at the next level). It’s an opportunity to bid farewell to a trio of Wild Dogs (Johnson, Zettel, and Nassib) who led the successful transition along the D-Line into a new era. Thursday represents the last hurrah in blue and white for names like Lucas, Mangiro, Carter, Williams, and even Keiser (who returns from his 2014 injury to take a shot of his own). Names we all grew to love, admire and appreciate over the course of the past few years as Penn State football fought, clawed and navigated its way through a massive storm. This week represents the final chapter as they all move on to greener pastures. Yes folks, it’s out with the old as they say, but in the most respectful kind of way.
Less than 24 hours after Pro Day ends, the 2016 Nittany Lions suit up for the first of fifteen spring practices, with a renewed optimism and all eyes on a fresh start. Gone are the sanctions that bogged us down, as well as the excuses that accompanied them; as justified as they may have been. Gone are a trio of coaches, replaced with ones that have strong ties to Western PA and a desire to help Penn State reach its potential. Gone is the record-setting QB and an offense that spent far too much time in neutral, with an expected three-way battle to replace him about to brew. Gone is that first wave of Wild Dogs, perhaps the biggest loss to replace heading into spring. Although, I suspect we’re in good hands with the Wild Dog’s leader, Coach Chaos. And finally, gone is the angst that gripped us all so tight at the end of 2015, replaced with the understanding that Rome wasn’t built, in our case re-built, in a day. We approach this spring with few expectations, other than that of progress. Yes folks, as the saying goes, it’s out with the old and in with the new Nittany Lions this week. For better or worse, and as long as we have a guy named Barkley on this team, along with the many other names and faces ready to replace the dearly departed, I suspect it will be for the better when all said and done.