Penn State Athletics
James Franklin's football team was among those honored Monday.

Penn State’s Big Ten championship teams honored, LB Ellis Brooks is a leader of men and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Tuesday, June 13. Let’s get started.

Champions honored

Penn State’s six Big Ten championship teams were honored Monday in Harrisburg, Pa., the state capital, as noted by The (Allentown) Morning Call.

The Nittany Lions boasted more title-winning squads than any other school in the conference in 2016-17, and the wrestling team won its sixth national championship in seven years. Five wrestlers took home individual NCAA crowns as well.

Coaches and representatives not only from the wrestling team but all those squads – football, men’s hockey, women’s soccer, indoor track and field, and field hockey – were in attendance. So too were coaches and players from the men’s volleyball team, which won an Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) title.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre County) made just one request of football coach James Franklin during a speech on the Senate floor, according to the Morning Call:

“Coach Franklin, the only thing I ask you is, if you do nothing else next year, please beat the University of Pittsburgh. I’m tired of hearing it on the Senate floor from my colleagues from the western part of the state.”

The Panthers beat the Lions 42-39 early last season.

Ellis Brooks, born leader

Connor Whooley profiled linebacker Ellis Brooks for the Centre Daily Times’ continuing series on the Nittany Lions’ incoming freshmen, pointing out that he was not only a four-year starter for Benedictine Prep in Richmond, Va., but also a much-respected leader in a military-oriented institution.

According to Whooley, Brooks achieved the rank of first lieutenant and led a platoon of 40-some fellow students. As Brooks told the author:

“People respect me; I respect them. We have a mutual respect and a mutual understanding of the standards of the school, what needs to be upheld when it comes to your appearance and being on time and just following the rules and acting how you’re supposed to be.”

Brooks also calls former Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson “cuzzo,” according to Whooley, even though they aren’t blood relatives. Their fathers were friends, and over time they grew close, too. And Brooks refers to former Lions linebacker LaVar Arrington as “Uncs,” having once played for him in the Under Armour All-America Game.

Brooks told Whooley that he once met the late Joe Paterno, as well as former defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and always dreamed of playing at Penn State. The Lions were late to offer him, however, and did so only after another linebacker, Dylan Rivers, de-committed in favor of Virginia Tech.

Brooks ultimately chose the Lions over Maryland. And now, he told Whooley – a freelance writer for the Centre Daily Times who also works for Land of 10 – that he has one goal:

“Definitely going out there and trying to bring back the dominance and let everybody know that Penn State is still LBU [Linebacker U].”

Make-or-break season for some

Mike Poorman of recalled Franklin saying this spring that cornerback Christian Campbell is ready for his final season:

“We were kind of making fun of him. We told him that this must have been a contract year for him. It’s his last year. He knows he has to capitalize on it.”

Poorman extrapolated, noting that many players are in the same situation, where they can put their best foot forward for prospective NFL employers. That would include all the seniors, certainly, as well as star junior running back Saquon Barkley.

If Barkley remains injury-free and produces to the degree he has in his first two seasons, Poorman writes, he could follow in the footsteps of three of his predecessors in the backfield – Ki-Jana Carter, Blair Thomas and Curt Warner – all of whom went among the first three picks in their respective drafts.

Also in the Land of 10