STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — I’ve seen dozens of college football teams practice over the years. On Monday afternoon at Penn State, I saw something I’d never seen before on the beat.
One by one, each Nittany Lion player stopped to shake hands and say “Thanks for coming” to each fan who visited practice before exiting the field – at the end of a two-plus hour practice. It started with the Penn State QBs and lasted until the last receiver was done some 20 minutes later.
It was a pretty classy deal by the Nittany Lions program and the coolest thing I’ve observed on my 10-day spring football tour so far.
The fan group in attendance Monday included 100 international students. Head coach James Franklin started the tradition of having his players thank the fans after practice back at his Vandy days, when the football program hosted international students at some practices to help spread interest in the game.
“It’s just being courteous to show our appreciation for their support and taking their time to see us,” said Franklin, who led Penn State to the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl in 2016.
While the Penn State players kept filing off the field to greet their supporters, star running back Saquon Barkley also posed for pictures with a dozen fans.