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Penn State Football: Sharing, Chemistry, Locker Arrangements Small But Important Details To Success

by on November 08, 2016 3:40 PM

Penn State's five game winning streak? A sudden resurgence up the polls? There are a lot of factors that have played into Penn State's sudden bout of national relevancy, but it may not be much more than good chemistry that has gotten the Nittany Lions so far.

And for good chemistry look no farther than the locker room.

"The way the locker room is set up; here in the past there was a section in the locker room where all the freshmen would go together and that was a challenge," Coach James Franklin said on Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "Because I wanted to change that and that was different. I believe -- everybody says teams are families, but when you've got 125 people, it's hard to get to know everybody on a real intimate, personal level."

"What happens is, all the D-Lines sit in this section in the locker room or all the O-Lines sit in this section. You get to know your group really well but sometimes the D-tackles don't get to know the kickers that well."

The result, breaking up the positions and the ages. No longer would linebackers sit next to linebackers or running backs next to fellow ball carriers. Nope, now it's all over the place. A senior to your left and a kicker to your right and you, a freshman lineman in the middle.

"So we break the entire locker room up," Franklin added. "We break it up by position, wide receiver next to a DB next to a kicker next to a quarterback. The whole locker room is broken up like that, old guys, young guys and we change it every single year. People become very territorial of their little space in the locker room and we change it every year because we want to force guys to continue to get to know each other and grow."

On top of that, the arrangement has changed every year.

"It's mixed up, definitely," Safety Marcus Allen said with a smile. "You've got Evan Schwan to my left, and you've got Brendan Mahon to my right. So like as far as left and right. And then way down there, you've got Saquon Barkley and Chris Godwin. But it's definitely mixed up."

The chemistry building doesn't stop there. Every Friday night Penn State has a few players, usually seniors, share their story. Their background, how they got to Penn State and just the path their life has taken so far. Sometimes it's funny, other times it brings the room to a dead stop, but no matter what, it's always meaningful.

"Somebody's story that stuck with me, to be honest, like Jordan Smith," Allen said. "Although I knew his story before he said it, some things that he said made me like wonder like, wow, I never knew about that about Jordan but like for him to tell me and the team about like his whole life like that, that really made me feel like good, that he felt good to tell us that."

Is it the only reason Penn State is playing well this season? No, but it's clear as the winning continues and the smiles grow wider that these Nittany Lions aren't just a good team on the field, they're also a tight team off of it. And that is so often the difference between what truly makes a good team great.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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