We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com 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 Thursday, Nov. 3. Let’s get started.
Franklin only has eyes for Hawkeyes
In case you were still wondering, Penn State coach James Franklin is focused only on the following this week:
— Mark Brennan (@MarkXBrennan) November 3, 2016
OK, so he did talk about other things after practice Wednesday, as noted by John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times – like, for instance, Penn State’s stance on playing Friday night games, a new Big Ten scheduling initiative.
PSU informed the conference Wednesday it will not host such games, but is “receptive to an occasional day game on the day after Thanksgiving.”
Franklin is on board with that:
“Saturdays are really special at Penn State. It makes a lot of sense for us. High school football and all those things. We might play some road games and things like that.”
But as for any discussion of the Lions’ No. 12 placement in the first College Football Playoff rankings, see above. In true Bill Belichick fashion, Franklin is on to Iowa. Others, like middle linebacker Jason Cabinda, were left to talk about the lofty ranking:
“I think it sets the tone for where we’re at and the direction we’re headed right now. It’s kind of showing people we’re back.”
Iyke – from Marine to DT
Arielle Sargent of Penn State’s strategic communications office profiled Lions redshirt freshman defensive tackle Immanuel Iyke, a former U.S. Marine who will be the team’s flagbearer for Military Appreciation Day on Saturday.
Iyke is a native Nigerian who came to the United States — specifically, Hackettstown, N.J. — at the age of 13. He played football in high school but was undecided as to what he was going to do after graduation. Then he joined a friend on a trip to a recruiter’s office:
“I ended up sitting there and listening to the recruiter and he was talking about how you travel the world, see all of these cool places and that they would pay for your schooling, so as soon as he said that, I thought, ‘Cool, sign me up.’ ”
That meant 13 weeks of basic training in Parris Island, and beginning in April 2011, deployments to places like Arizona and Japan. By 2014, though, he reached another crossroads, while stationed in Japan: Should he remain in the Corps, or continue his education?
He reached a decision after watching Penn State’s double-overtime loss to Ohio State on TV that fall:
“I liked how the crowd got really into it and the whole atmosphere, I could feel it through the TV, even though I was across the whole world.”
He applied and was accepted three weeks later. Encouraged by friends to give football another try, he made the team through a walk-on tryout in the summer of 2015, then was thrown into the fire in his first practice:
“I just remember Coach saying, ‘Iyke, welcome to Penn State football,’ and he put me in there with Sterling (Jenkins, a hulking offensive tackle). And I got completely blown up.”
He said he has taken care of business in the classroom. He also has served as an inspiration to his teammates, according to Franklin:
“Immanuel, at the beginning of the season, got up and told his story and about his family background, as well as his time in the military and the difference and the significance that the military had on his life. He shared some of the experiences that he had, which really hit home to our team.”
Another win for Sanderson
Cael Sanderson, who has won five NCAA team championships in his seven seasons as Penn State’s wrestling coach, scored another recruiting coup Wednesday when he received a commitment from Brady Berge of Kasson-Mantorville High School in Minnesota, the nation’s top-ranked 160-pounder.
Jim Carlson of Pennlive.com reports that Berge, the sixth-ranked wrestler in the Class of 2017, chose PSU over Oklahoma State, Iowa and Minnesota. His announcement came hours after Sanderson presided over his team’s media day, during which he outlined the type of athlete he has always looked to attract:
“You have to get good kids and if you’re not getting good kids it doesn’t matter how good of a coach you are or how much support you have as a program, you’re only going to be able to do so well. We spend a lot of time watching and analyzing and trying to pick up the best kids that fit our program. We want kids who want to come to Penn State, too.”