Penn State is “Linebacker U.” Decades of great linebackers have defined the Penn State football program. But who stands out above the rest? We asked A.I. who it believes is the greatest linebacker in Penn State football history. It’s a fun conversation that you don’t want to miss.
In this episode, we also discuss Nittany Lion baseball and softball, football recruiting updates, and how some young football stars can avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump.” WE ARE!
00:01:42 Special race with familiar roads, strong swim, tough bike, slower run, enthusiastic community support.
00:08:53 Penn State alum wins triathlon; going pro.
00:14:02 Penn State recruiting on the rise, adding Williams.
00:16:51 USC avoids cold games.
00:21:15 Penn State running backs face sophomore slump?
00:30:57 Jalen Pickett shines in summer league games.
00:36:18 A.I. selects greatest PSU linebacker.
Andrew Burd [00:00:00]:
What’s up, Penn State fans? Welcome back to the Nittany Blues podcast. We are back after the holiday week. Hope that you all had a nice 4 July out there. And Vince, it’s good to see you again, too, my friend. How are you?Read Full Transcript
Vince Fadale [00:00:12]:
Yeah, good to see you. Glad we got to get together over the 4 July and have a great barbecue. Fred and Bill are both proving that they’re in good shape for tailgate season. They haven’t been slacking in the offseason, so their tailgating is still fantastic and I think they’re going to be ready come Labor Day weekend.
Andrew Burd [00:00:31]:
Yeah, no doubt. Those wings were good, very good.
Vince Fadale [00:00:36]:
Everything there is fantastic. So no complaints on my end.
Andrew Burd [00:00:41]:
That’s right, yeah. And speaking of fantastic, one thing I want to lead off here is a little bit of kudos, maybe a little pat of the back on the part of Vince Fideli for being the first State College resident to finish in the Happy Valley Iron Man race. So, Vince, you can correct my terminology if I butchered that a little bit, but there was a story written by Jeff Rushton who writes for StateCollege.com, and I’ll link the story in the show notes detailing some of the highlights from the event. And it has a fantastic picture of Vince crossing the finish line as the first State College resident to finish the event. Made its round on social media, we retweeted it on Twitter. It’s just overall a fantastic photo. So, Vince, why don’t you share a little bit about the event? I mean, I’m sure it was an amazing experience being able to do something like that in your backyard of State College, a place that we both hold near and dear to our hearts. So what was it like?
Vince Fadale [00:01:42]:
Yeah, it was a really special race and part of what made it fun, just knowing the roads is so convenient and being able to bike the entire bike course before race day is really nice because you kind of know how much farther you have to go and how to manage your efforts a little bit. Even though I did kind of go too hard on the bike, which I’ll talk about later. But looping back to the swim, my swim training has not been going very good. Just haven’t been able to get in the water as much this year, but I PR by over a minute, so I swam a minute faster in the water than I ever had. So had a pretty good swim for myself, then got on the bike, just kind of tried to hammer and pass as many people as I could. Went through a rough patch on 64. It was kind of tough going through the headwind, but did pretty well in the climbs. And then kind of the last section from Center Hall back to Beaver Stadium really let it rip. And it was kind of one of those routes that we do for our cycling club. So I really knew the roads very well from that point because I ride them all the time. So at that point in the race it started raining a little bit so the roads were a little slick, so other people had to be a little more cautious around corners and turns and stuff like that. But since I kind of knew exactly what every kind of twist and bend would be, I was able to really hammer and kind of save myself some seconds here and there. That was a little bit of an advantage over my competitors, which was nice. So definitely biked like a madman up Center Hall Mountain and was kind of panicking to make up places. Really hammered the back part of the bike. Then I hopped on the run course, which is usually my biggest strength, but my legs are feeling that effort on the bike so wasn’t breathing heavy or anything but you know when you lift weights and you’re like bench pressing or something and then you just can’t do that heavy weight anymore. That’s kind of like what it feels like if you over bike on the run and that’s kind of the first time that ever happened to me. So that was definitely really humbling to run about five minutes slower than I typically do in a half marathon, so that was tough. But to finish 20 Eigth overall and I feel over 2000 and have a great time. Had tons of friends out there cheering and stuff that I knew and saw tons of friends on the course. So that just made the experience a lot better in general. As opposed to traveling 5 hours to a race where you don’t know anybody, and then you show up, you do your race, you eat the food and leave. So it definitely made it really fun because there were dozens of people in the community that I knew out there and that just made it that much more fun. And then having the best finish line you could possibly have on the 50 yard line with Beer Stadium. I did do the Joey Porter arms. That’s the photo they caught. I was doing like the Joey Porter lockdown you thing and then I did the Trace McSorley home run as I crossed the finish line. I did think about doing the Saquon Crazy Arms but I was running way too slow for that to look cool. Nice. I did the Sequan Crazy Arms as I was kind of running into the water because they would send like three people every 10 seconds into the water. That way it’s not kind of getting overcrowded and you have some of your weaker swimmers getting panic attacks and stuff and I’d assume it’s easier for the lifeguards too just to have less bodies to watch in their zone. So I was kind of running into the water as fast as I could. My arms were kind of going crazy so I like to say I do all three of the recommendations. Definitely enjoyed the comments we got on Facebook and Instagram, so I was able to incorporate all three at different points in the day, but overall, really special. My one budy finished a couple of minutes behind me and he was like, oh, I was this close to being top State College resident. And when I was greeted at the club ride this evening, everyone’s like, oh, top local right there.
Andrew Burd [00:05:50]:
Nice. Yeah, you have like a little bit of celebrity. Uh, and to your point about doing the celebrations, I think that the Joey Porter celebration was the perfect one for the photo because it’s just a still image. It just looks like your hands are just like off to the side, like Rocky Pose sort of thing. It just made for an excellent, uh so talk about the Mean. I saw on mean. There was a ton of people that I knew that actually ran in this race. Like a bunch of my old classmates. I saw pictures on Facebook of them running it. They were with the logo outside the stadium. So was it just like a mob of people?
Vince Fadale [00:06:28]:
Yeah, there was a lot of fans out there. It was really cool. Even on the bike course, there were a lot of fans everywhere. The Amish didn’t have church that day. I guess they have it every other Sunday, which I didn’t know, but it was cool. There was a lot of them out cheering kind of in the smaller towns, and a lot of Belfont residents. And Mill Hall residents went out to cheer as well as Center Hall. There was tons of people at the bottom of the mountain and even some people up the mountain, which is awesome. And there were some people who wrote like, La on the mountain, kind of like the Tour de France. So definitely had that vibe to it a little bit because that was like the one really big climb up Center Hall Mountain, about a three mile climb. So it was a lot of fun. Had a great experience. Definitely looking forward to doing again in the very near future.
Andrew Burd [00:07:17]:
Awesome. Did you see anything crazy during the race? Did anybody just completely eat it when they were on the bike? Or a couple of people get tripped up during the run, anything like that?
Vince Fadale [00:07:29]:
I do think there was a couple of people that wiped out on a turn, I heard. I think they were okay and everything. So outside of a couple wrecks in the rain, nothing serious, which for an event with this many people, there’s going to be some people mishandling their bikes, especially when it’s wet. And triathletes typically aren’t the best bike handlers. I don’t think anyone got really seriously hurt, so I’m happy everyone seemed to get to the finish line okay or to wherever they were going. It was pretty humid, too, so some people didn’t make the time cut offs, so they weren’t able to fully finish the race. But it was a tough day and it’s definitely one of the tougher Iron Man courses in my opinion. That was probably my slowest time on an Iron Man branded course, even though I did place pretty well. So it was a tough, honest course.
Andrew Burd [00:08:30]:
Got you well, nonetheless, massive congratulations to you. That’s a great achievement to have to your name. I mean, just a great experience overall, I’m sure, as saying as somebody who didn’t run the race will never run the race, so I’m just going to be able to be here in the passenger seat cheering you on. So super happy for you on that.
Vince Fadale [00:08:53]:
One more thing I do want to add fittingly, a Penn State alumni won the race. My budy Matt Gunter, he came back from Colorado and he was the national champion for the age groupers in the sprint distance, the Olympic distance, and then he’s won, I think two or three half firemans. That was probably his third or fourth that he won. But yeah, he won the race by about five minutes. So really cool to see know friend in Penn State Alum, win the overall title and then kind of an inside scoop that I have for the podcast is that he’s going to make the transition to going pro next year. He did have his pro card and this is his last year of age group racing, so there’ll be a new winner next year, most likely as he’s looking to step up to the pro field and see what he can do at that level. Along with Jason West, who’s in the top 20 overall in the PTO World rankings. So Penn Staters and State College residents are doing really well in the sport of triathlon and can’t blame us because we have so many great mountains and roads to bike and places to run. So it’s a really good outdoorsy town in general.
Andrew Burd [00:10:07]:
Yeah, for sure. That is cool, though. So you have your guys moving on up in all different kinds of sports. So speaking of going pro, I think this is a good segue. This was like one of our quick talking points. We had a couple of our baseball players go pro over the past couple of days. The MLB draft took place with the Pittsburgh Pirates taking the LSU pitcher Paul Skeens number one. Overall, the MLB draft is very long, it’s very lengthy, lots of rounds, so it’s hard to keep track of all the different names from all the different schools that are getting drafted. But we did have a couple of Penn Staters get drafted, most notably with Jay Harry getting drafted in the 6th round. And I believe we also had another player, a pitcher, get drafted in the 18th round, I think earlier today. So, yeah, we have players in all different kinds of sports aspiring or reaching their pro aspirations.
Vince Fadale [00:11:10]:
Yeah, I got his name up here. Daniel Oderkirk, I think is his last name. I probably might have butchered it. So sorry, Daniel, if I messed it up. But number 547 overall in the 18th round. So really awesome to see some Penn Staters getting drafted into the major league baseball.
Andrew Burd [00:11:28]:
Yes, big news with baseball recently. I mean, obviously those guys getting drafted and also baseball bringing on new head coach Mike Gambino, formerly of Boston College, brings a solid resume to State College. There’s a little bit of juiciness kind of around his hiring because Gambino signed what was essentially an extension at Boston College. And then I think it was like less than a week later announced that he was coming to Penn State. What I’m curious to know is kind of what his past relationship with Pat Kraft was like, given that Kraft was formerly at Boston College. So I’m sure there’s some past history there that might have enticed Gambino to come over to Penn State, but either way, seems like he brings a pretty solid pedigree. So Penn State baseball saw some pretty decent success in this past season, so I think fans should kind of just look for that to continue next year.
Vince Fadale [00:12:28]:
Yeah, we got that Boston College to Penn State pipeline going. So good to see know, it’s always good, know people move from laterally to your university. I think that’s a really good sign that the program is heading in the right directions. And some other good news on the diamond. Penn State softball actually landed a transfer commitment from Pitts Haley Brunson. So another flip from Pitt to our Lions. So that’s always fun to rub it into the Pitt fan base whenever we can. Some more news on the diamond.
Andrew Burd [00:13:06]:
Yeah, I have a good segue then from that, talking about Pitt player aspirations and stuff like that. So this transitions from baseball then into football, specifically football recruiting. So the biggest news out of the last couple of days was Penn State securing the commitment from four star edge rusher Melachi Williams. He’s a kid out of Pittsburgh, was highly recruited. He chose Penn State over a handful of different SEC and Big Ten schools such as Georgia, Michigan, and a bunch of others. But very notably, he was very high up as a target for the Pittsburgh Panthers. So Penn State just snatching a prime Pennsylvania talent to come to State. You know, it’s just rinse, repeat here, Vince.
Vince Fadale [00:13:58]:
Yeah, just keep on doing it. Dominate the state.
Andrew Burd [00:14:02]:
Yep. That’s we got. We got Williams coming on board. He was a big target for Penn State. Obviously. Penn State, with some of the recent recruiting success, has really been moving up the recruiting rankings list for the 2024 class. Pretty much all of the major publications now have Penn State situated pretty squarely in the top ten of their team rankings, which is no small feat. I mean, Penn State has consistently been there in the past handful of years under James Franklin. Right now they’re ranked ahead of schools like LSU, Tennessee, Florida State in some of these things. So the stars matter, the players matter, and recruiting matters. So Penn State is doing good things in that regard and they’re not done yet. So a lot of the quote unquote experts and insiders and stuff like that have linked a number of players to potentially commit to Penn State in the coming months, including top 100 interior offensive lineman Liam Andrews. So penn State is not done. Franklin’s not done. Yeah, exactly. I’m a fan, I think making good on their promise so far of trying to be aggressive after their Rose Bowl victory, just like making sure not to squander that opportunity. They’re recruiting with the best right now.
Vince Fadale [00:15:31]:
Yeah, absolutely. And I do think know important that we bring up that Rose Bowl victory because the past two seasons for Penn State have been very mediocre before the success of this year and that Rose Bowl victory and with how strong they finished the season. And that gets high school kids excited and they want to come and play at big time programs that are doing really well. Michigan State was pretty good two years ago and then this past year they kind of fell off and now suddenly East Lansing is a less desirable location. So I think the fact that Penn State is capitalizing is really huge to do it now, especially since this was really the last year that the Rose Bowl is going to be in the typical format that it is with a Pac Twelve Big Ten opponent.
Andrew Burd [00:16:23]:
Absolutely, yeah. Penn State should bring that up again and again and again until the end of time. I know we certainly will. You want to talk quickly about you had told me about some news with speaking of the Pac Twelve and stuff and the changes that are coming with that. USC versus Penn State is officially scheduled for October of 2024. Is that what you told me?
Vince Fadale [00:16:51]:
Yeah. I don’t know if this is a good, reliable source. I got kind of a pop up on my Facebook and it said, okay, USC was coming to Beaver Stadium October 19 and they had the entire schedule there. And then I guess the last four games of their season are like every game after that penn State game is home or in Los Angeles, their only away game is UCLA. But they don’t really travel for that. So pretty much they don’t have to leave Los Angeles after October 19, which is wild to me that they’re just kind of giving them this little pampered treatment and they don’t have to go play in the cold. If that is the actual schedule and it is reliable and legit, then kind of a shame, I think, that we’re not going to get to see them and how they respond in those conditions. But time will tell because I looked on Penn State’s website. I couldn’t really find anything in regards to their schedule, so I figured theirs would also be up. So it could be true. It could be a rumor, but the rumor mill is always spinning. What are your thoughts if this rumor is true? What are your thoughts on that?
Andrew Burd [00:18:14]:
I don’t hate having it in the month of October. I think it would make things more interesting if they had to go someplace cold in the month of November. Say like Ann Arbor or Madison in yeah, yeah, like one of those places. I don’t hate the idea of this game being in mid to late October because that tells me two things. Yeah, that’s definitely going to be the whiteout. They love to put the Whiteout for those October games because September is all about non con, non whiteout game schedule time. And two, that’s going to be a night game. I would bet my house on it. So I don’t hate it. I know we kept joking that we’d love to see them in Beaver Stadium in November, maybe with a little bit of snow or whatever, but yeah, I’m on board.
Vince Fadale [00:19:12]:
Yeah, well, maybe that day we’ll get a cold rain. We’ve been getting a lot of it lately up here, especially like Sunday, man. All that flash flood warnings and stuff. Yeah, it was a little crazy a couple of days ago. But hopefully for the rest of our games, though, we get beautiful weather for the fans to enjoy the game.
Andrew Burd [00:19:33]:
That’s right. And my dad actually did have a good point, though. He had mentioned about the freak snowstorm that happened in October of 2011 when Penn State played Illinois. And Illinois was actually half decent that year, wasn’t it?
Vince Fadale [00:19:50]:
Like six inches of snow?
Andrew Burd [00:19:52]:
It was. It was the strangest thing because it just came out of nowhere and it made for one of those days and one of those games that you just talk about forever because it was just one of those freak things that just has not happened since and probably will be a long time before it happens again. So maybe history will kind of come full circle and we’ll get some mid October snow in State College for that game. So one can hope.
Vince Fadale [00:20:21]:
Yeah. And actually, I remember one year there was like a ton of snow in the State College area. I think I was in high school. And Penn State was supposed to host regionals for cross country. And I guess they got so much snow they decided to move it over to Lockhaven and they actually ran regionals at Lockhaven instead, which you wouldn’t think that would make sense because Lockhaven is only a 40 minutes drive away and similar snow amount. So I’m not sure what the reasoning for that was. But Penn State did actually move a regional championship over to Lockhaven because of interesting, you know, tidbits about weather happening early in October. November, you never know what you’re going to get.
Andrew Burd [00:21:04]:
Yeah. Plus, it seems like there’s a little taste of destiny there with you eventually running at Lockhaven.
Vince Fadale [00:21:11]:
Yes, the destiny.
Andrew Burd [00:21:15]:
But yeah. So obviously we’ve got a lot to look forward to in 2024. I mean, we’re only scratching the surface right now because once those official schedules come out, we’re going to be all over that and talking about our new friends out west. But while we have to wait to learn more about that, one thing that we do know about football right now is that Penn State has a lot of playmakers and a lot of second year guys who are playmakers. And most notably, at least for this topic of discussion, nick Singleton and KaTron Allen, two star sophomore running backs in their own rights. Nick Singleton, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Dark horse. Heisman candidate level player, just absolutely electric playmaker on the field for Penn State. Can score almost at will if you give him just enough space. And one thing that he’s been talking to with beat reporters a lot recently has been the idea of a sophomore slump. Because it’s just that old trope in sports kind of that curse, that belief, that idea, if you will, that when a player has a lot of success in their first year, they come back for that second year and things kind of take a dip a little bit in terms of their production, in terms of their explosiveness and their effectiveness and all these things. And so one thing that he has been saying is that Jay Juan Cider, the running backs coach, has not shied away from this idea and has been pounding it into the conversations with him. And, you know, this is something that’s out there and that you got to be aware of, that you got to prepare for, that you got to overcome with your preparation, with your training, with your practice, et cetera. So I guess my question to you, Vince, is do you think that Singleton and Alan are going to be victims of the sophomore slump?
Vince Fadale [00:23:14]:
I think they can avoid it, and here’s how I think they can do that. I do think that in college that junior year is your biggest jump in the third year when you really kind of start to get it junior senior year. However, I think what causes a sophomore slump is stuff isn’t brand new. So you think you’re going to know what to expect and then you don’t know as much as you think you thought you knew. So I think if they kind of keep approaching the game like they did their freshman year, where they were kind of these new guys, they were hungry, they had a chip on their shoulder, I think if they really use that same mentality, they can avoid that. The other way they have to avoid that is making sure they’re staying healthy, so making sure that they’re getting enough recovery, enough sleep, at night focusing on school and football, and they’ll be in good shape, I think. And then another component of that is the strength and conditioning staff. It is really easy as a college athlete to overtrain, and if you do over train and get yourself too sore on game day, you’re going to look slow. And that’s the bottom line. I know I’ve struggled with that as a distance runner is training too hard, and then I get to the race day and my legs don’t have the juice because I left too much of that effort in training. And that’s a tough balance to find as an athlete. And as you kind of get to learn your body and learn how your body reacts to things and learn how you feel and how to react to that, the more experience you have, the better you get at it. So they’re still young, so they’re still going to go through those processes. But I do think that it’s really important that even like sports psychologists and the strength and conditioning staff, I think a lot of that is on them and some of it’s locked with injuries. You can balance injuries by splitting the carries with Singleton Allen, which we do expect them to continue like they did last year. So I think that’ll be really helpful as well, to keep those legs fresh. But freak injuries happen, too, so it’s not like you can 100% avoid it. But as long as they’re healthy, strength and conditioning staff is doing their job, they’re still approaching the game with the same desires, same mentality. They keep hitting the film room and getting better. I don’t foresee a slump in their near future.
Andrew Burd [00:25:46]:
Yeah, I agree. I think so much of the idea of the sophomore slump is an issue of complacency. You just feel like you figured everything out or you’ve gotten to the point where you don’t need to have that mental edge, you don’t need to have that same approach, that same fire and intensity and stuff like that. So I like the fact that Cider is not shying away from this idea that he’s really kind of adding in that little extra challenge to them to just kind of showcase what they’re able to do in being able to overcome that or just avoid it entirely. Because when I think of these guys, I think of other players who notably did not experience the sophomore slump. I mean, look at Sequan. He came out his freshman year, he was a phenom.
Vince Fadale [00:26:36]:
He was just Sanders Journey. Brown.
Andrew Burd [00:26:39]:
Yeah. And then Saquon comes back his sophomore year. He’s the co Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, just an absolute stud, becomes a Heisman contender, has one of the most iconic runs in Rose Bowl game history. It’s just about that approach and just having that kind of workman’s mentality and just not thinking that you’re better than everybody else and just making sure that you’re just kind of hitting all the checkboxes that the coaches are putting in front of you. And I think both of these guys are down to earth enough to take that message to heart. I think they’re both hungry and motivated enough to put that into action. And I think they kind of feed off each other, too. They’re going to keep each other accountable in that way as well. And I think they just have too much in front of them to just kind of take it easy. They know that this is essentially a revitalized rushing attack for this offense like the likes that we haven’t it’s. I would argue it’s even better than when saquon was here because if you look at the collective whole between the skill of the running backs and the offensive line, it’s not really a conversation in my opinion. So I think from that aspect, too, they have this amazing opportunity in front of them. Why would they squander it? So those are just kind of a litany of reasons why I think this is not something that people should just dismiss as, like, an impossibility, but people should have confidence that these are the right guys to kind of tackle this challenge.
Vince Fadale [00:28:14]:
Yeah. And I’m more worried about them being like me a little bit and kind of getting after it and going too hard. I’m more worried about them going too hard and trying to do too much and be superman and do crazy workouts and then they get themselves tired on game day because that is something like when you are that good, you just want to get better and you want to be more dominant. It’s a really addictive feeling. I know when I would perform really well, I was like, I want to get faster going to get faster. And I was like, how do I get faster? I got to train hard. I got to train harder. And it’s not a straight line path. You do put in this amount of work and this is the outcome. Sports don’t work like that, which is kind of one of the challenges of sport. And I think finding that balance and I think listening to the strength and conditioning coaches and communicating with them and how their bodies are feeling, I think that’s really important. I’m sure they’re doing that behind closed doors and I expect them to be ready. I’m saying I’m more worried about them overdoing it than underdoing it and not having that edge.
Andrew Burd [00:29:22]:
Yes, I think that’s fair. So I think we’re all obviously thrilled and excited and pumped to see what they have in store for year two. I mean, this is really kind of a make or break part of their careers, you know, because with the kind of talent that penn state is bringing in all the time, you can’t afford to be slumping in your production mean, we’ve seen it know, penn state loves to bring out the competition and give everybody. A fair shot if they’re going to produce on the field. So not that I think either of these guys are going to take any plays off, but we just know how kind of Penn State rolls in certain.
Vince Fadale [00:30:05]:
You know, look at guys like and you know, Kevon Lee like your spot is not guaranteed at, you know, in terms of the running back position, if they find someone who’s it yeah, that is true. I mean, that is true. But if someone better comes along, penn State is not afraid. Give them the rock is what I’m saying.
Andrew Burd [00:30:27]:
No, that is true. So anyway, still on the topic of football, but I kind of want to save this for last. So in our last episode, Vince, I promised you another chat GPT who is the best Penn State player ever at this position question. So I want to save this for the end, though, because I think this is the most interesting thing. Did you want to chat some basketball and most notably some of our guys who recently got drafted?
Vince Fadale [00:30:57]:
Yeah. So summer league has been going pretty well for the lines. Jalen Pickett is continuing to do Jalen Pickett things. I was able to catch the Denver Nuggets preseason game versus the Bucks. I think he was shooting around 50% from the field. I think he had twelve points, maybe like five rebounds and six assists somewhere around those kind of numbers. And I think he only had one turnover, maybe. So he had a really good overall game. People were really getting in his grill and trying to be physical with him and he handled it just how you expect Jalen Pickett would. It didn’t really bother him at all. He was really a good floor general out there. So you didn’t see him taking maybe I think he took like twelve shots. I think he was 512 from the field and two or four from three. So he took a decent amount of shots and I thought he looked really good. He definitely looks like he belongs. He’s definitely going to be a backup point guard to Jamal Murray. And Denver Nuggets got a really good player, and I think you’re going to see a lot of teams that are kind of in that contender role, kind of regretting not drafting Jalen Pickett, so I thought he looked really good. Funk, you didn’t see a ton of minutes with Funk, so he didn’t see the floor quite as much as Jalen did. As is expected with only having a summer league contract, he was over two from three. The one was a really well contested shot and the guy was in his face. The other one he just kind of missed. And really the shooter who really stood out was Hunter Tyson. If you remember that game versus Clemson where he was lights out from three. Hunter Tyson looked really good. He had over 20 points. He’s going to be a good player. He can definitely be like a Duncan Robinson or maybe even a Tyler Hero if he makes improvements to his game. But he has a lot of length, which is really good for the defensive end. He can shoot really well, and then also he’s doing really well, driving and creating contact and getting to the free throw line so he can score in different ways, even though being a three point shooter is his thing. And then Seth Lundy kind of didn’t get to see him play live, but read some things that he was doing good things on the defensive end. I think he actually blocked Jalen Pickett when they played head to head, and Seth, I think, got eight points in his minutes. He signed a two way contract. So you might see Seth with the Hawks, but you also might see Seth on the G League team just getting some more experience. But the coaches really like those contracts because know there’s an injury or they’re doing load management with the player. They can throw Seth in, but instead of Seth just sitting on the bench, they can also play him on the G League team. So that way he’s getting experience so he’ll get all that practice time. And then if he doesn’t happen to be getting a ton of minutes, they get him game time minutes as well. So I think Seth London is in a really good position. I think he’ll shine, especially with that ability to shoot from three and then cover multiple positions on the defensive end and really contribute in things like blocks and rebounds.
Andrew Burd [00:34:15]:
Good stuff. Yeah. I’m just happy to see these guys out there living their dream. And Jalen Pickett, I think, just has so much promise to him and his game and the way that he’s just able to do different things on the basketball court in addition to just facilitating other players. I think that he found just such a great home with the Denver Nuggets. I think that they’re going to work so well together. I’m just going to maybe pass out when he and Nikola Jokic have just a filthy highlight, just passing the ball to each other until one of them just has like an easy layup or something like that, because that’s just like, how they roll. I’m just super pumped for them.
Vince Fadale [00:35:06]:
One thing I do want to point out about Jalen is he was shooting, I think with the two games combined, he was shooting 50% behind the arc, and one was, I think, a tough kind of pull up jumper for three, which is a lot easier than a catch and shoot. So I was really impressed with Jalen’s game. That was kind of one of the main concerns I had with him going to the next level with the three point lines being farther apart and floor spacing being really important in the know. Is Jalen going to be able to shoot at a high enough percentage from three and it’s looking like he’s able to do then, you know, we saw Jalen dominate smaller guards in the NBA. There’s not really small guards and the physicality did not bother Jalen at all. He looked great out know as a floor general out there, which is exactly what you want from your point guard. So things are looking really good for Jalen Pickett in this early summer league.
Andrew Burd [00:36:01]:
Good stuff. So you got anything else on basketball or do you want to chat some AI? And.
Vince Fadale [00:36:08]:
I mean, I think he’s in a great position. Really mature team, just won the NBA final. So I’m again so excited. But yeah, let’s go to some chat GDP.
Andrew Burd [00:36:18]:
All right. So as I mentioned in our last episode, we covered who chat GPT thought is the greatest Penn State quarterback of all time. And it voted for Kerry Collins for a variety of different reasons, most notably his accomplishments during the 1994 football season with one of the greatest Penn State offenses ever. And so moving on then to different position groups, we talked about going to the linebackers and this is kind of the hallowed grounds of Penn State football linebacker. You this is the position that laid the foundation for this program. So this was probably the hardest one to debate, to decide not only from a human standpoint but from an AI standpoint. So, Vince, I’m going to pose the same two questions to you that I’ve been posing throughout this whole series, if you will. I want you to tell me, number one, who you think is the greatest Penn State linebacker of all time. And number two, who you think a computer would select as the greatest Penn State linebacker of all time. So the floor is yours.
Vince Fadale [00:37:32]:
Yeah, this is a really difficult question just because there are so many great linebackers. You have guys like Michael Parsons, Abdul Carter, his sample size is too small. So maybe down the road he’s up there in conversation, but he’s probably not going to be there. Guys like Michael Mahdi, LaVar, arrington tombahal lee can maybe throw in there. I don’t know if he’s more of an edge or a linebacker. So many good players. I did have one friend kind of talk to me about this question with how I should go. And Jason Habinda is another good one. And Ronnie Bell. I think Bell was Linebacker or Brandon Bell. Brandon Bell I think was another good linebacker. So a lot of good linebackers. But I think I’m going to have to go and take my friend Natalie’s advice. I’m going to go with LaVar Arrington as the best Penn State linebacker of all, right? Or am I wrong?
Andrew Burd [00:38:36]:
So just to clarify that’s, who you think AI would select, LaVar Arrington, in.
Vince Fadale [00:38:42]:
Your opinion, am I right or am I wrong?
Andrew Burd [00:38:45]:
No, I think you’re right. I think LaVar Arrington is the greatest linebacker in Penn State history. I think the stats speak for themselves. I think the highlights speak for themselves. Like, you want to talk about just a guy who opposing teams just had to account for on every play and basically scheme their offense around. That was one another one.
Vince Fadale [00:39:10]:
I just forgot Sean Lee. Maybe I wanted to kind of forget he was a Penn Stater because he played on the Dallas Cowboys. Yeah, but Sean Lee was another great there’s just so many, you forget them.
Andrew Burd [00:39:23]:
And even right before Sean, you had Paul Puzlusny. He was a two time Chuck Bedneric Award winner. Like, there’s so many great ones. But yeah. So my opinion is LaVar. Arrington. So here’s what AI and Chad CPT had to say. Quote, penn State has a rich history of talented linebackers, and it’s difficult to single out just one as the greatest of all time. However, one linebacker who is often mentioned as a standout is Jack Ham.
Vince Fadale [00:39:51]:
I was going to say Jack Ham, too.
Andrew Burd [00:39:54]:
Ham played for Penn State from 1967 to 1970 and went on to have a highly successful professional career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL. He was known for his exceptional speed, agility, and instincts on the field. Ham was a key contributor to Penn State’s undefeated 1969 season and went on to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While there are other notable linebackers from Penn State, such as Shane Conlon and LaVar Arrington, jack Ham is often considered as one of the greatest in the program’s.
Vince Fadale [00:40:24]:
That’s that’s funny, because I was about to say Jack Ham before you started reading off the paper, because I was like he’s like someone I never saw play in person. But I’ve heard his name a so.
Andrew Burd [00:40:34]:
Well, yeah, and I mean, good reason for it, too, because he’s kind of the originer. The originator of the term linebacker. You he was the first star linebacker that Joe Paterno had in his know, he’s just a guy from, like, played his high school football in PA. I’m pretty sure he was from Western PA out near Pittsburgh, played at Penn State, went to play for the Steelers, like, one of only a small handful of players to be selected to both the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fame. So, I mean, just like, from beginning to end, just an absolutely stellar career. So I think it’s interesting how the AI portion of this kind of consideration takes into account his awards and accomplishments in terms of hall of Fame as opposed to what you see on the field. Because I think when you’re talking about players of such different eras, I mean, you’re talking about 1969, whereas LaVar Arrington was 1999. That’s 30 years of difference, like, totally different football and stuff like that. So it’s like trying to say who’s a better slugger between Babe Ruth and Aaron Judge? It’s just so impossible to compare the two. So I thought this was interesting even though I think personally that Arrington is probably the most talented linebacker ever, I think this is a worthy selection.
Vince Fadale [00:42:10]:
Yeah, absolutely. And he was up there on the top of my list. I was about to mention him.
Andrew Burd [00:42:15]:
Vince Fadale [00:42:19]:
One of the good things we have going on at Penn State, just like we have too many good linebackers.
Andrew Burd [00:42:25]:
Yeah, that’s for sure. I think it will be interesting though, to see. I mean, with the current kind know, structure and flow of star college football players into the NFL, I think we’ve got Abdul Carter for two more seasons. But I think it’ll be very interesting to see what kinds of numbers he’s going to put up over the next two seasons, because he did everything that he did this past season with, like, half the playing time of a normal starter, if you will, because he only really came onto the scene in the second half of the season. So we’re getting the full package this year.
Vince Fadale [00:43:04]:
Yeah, really excited to see what he can do. If you had to guess numbers, I’m going to guess they’re going to be very big.
Andrew Burd [00:43:11]:
Yeah, huge, you might say, but good stuff. So what position do you want to do next time or the next time that we kind of dip back into the Chat GPT pool? What are you most interested in?
Vince Fadale [00:43:27]:
I think Edge Rusher would be fun.
Andrew Burd [00:43:30]:
Vince Fadale [00:43:31]:
So maybe we’ll say defensive end because Penn State’s mostly been a four three defense. Unless yeah, yeah.
Andrew Burd [00:43:40]:
And I would say like linebacker and defensive line are the two things that Penn State is most known for. So I think this is appropriate.
Vince Fadale [00:43:51]:
Excellent. So looking forward to that for the next one.
Andrew Burd [00:43:54]:
Yeah, agreed. So that’s all I got for you here. Vince, anything that else that you wanted to chat about? Or should we call this a pod?
Vince Fadale [00:44:04]:
Yeah, I think we can wrap it up. Happy things in Happy Valley. It’s less than two months to kick off. It’s going to be wild against West Virginia for that night game September 2. So really excited and can’t wait for the football season to arrive.
Andrew Burd [00:44:21]:
Yeah, you and me both. So we’ve got plenty to talk about as we get closer to the season. We’re going to do some preview pods, talk about the offense, defense, obviously the full season, give our predictions and some bold predictions and stuff like that for what we’re going to see out of our beloved Nitney Lions. So obviously, as we continue to produce this show, you can support us by going to check out our merch at shop nitneyblues.com. Feel free to get in on the conversation, send us your comments, questions, your predictions for the upcoming football season by messaging us on social media or by emailing us at email@example.com. We love to hear from you. We want to just connect with all of you and make our community predictions, your community predictions. With that, Vince why don’t you bring us home?
Vince Fadale [00:45:14]:
Sounds good. If you’d like to support the Pod, please tell your friends. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you enjoy the show, please leave a five star review so other Nitney Lion fans like you can find us interested in new episodes. You can subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, google Podcasts, or other streaming platforms to be notified. Thank you for listening and we want.
Andrew Burd [00:45:32]:
To remind you that we are the Nittany Blues podcast. See you next time.