UNIVERSITY PARK - Football may be a game during the fall for Penn State's players, but it's a full-time job that doesn't let up during the summer when other college kids go home.
"We're here year-round," linebacker Sean Lee said Thursday, "and I feel that the summer workouts are the toughest. But it's good because it gets you ready for the season. Come August, you are completely physically ready to play football."
There's really no such thing anymore as a true offseason - in any big-time sport - and the summer is when Penn State's players do a lot of the grunt work that goes unnoticed as it pertains to success later on.
Joe Paterno chats with the Mirror’s Neil Rudel and Cory Giger Thursday at Penn State’s practice field.
"I can't stress enough that these guys really know what the opportunity is that lies ahead for them," quarterback Daryll Clark said of his teammates, "and that they have to do a certain amount of work for us to be successful."
Clark's day Thursday started with a run at 6 a.m. Shortly after noon, he watched film and dissected games from last season. At 4:30, he and other offensive players were to take part in 7-on-7 drills against the defense.
It's all part of Clark's summer job.
"This period right now is a time for me to get myself fundamentally sound with all of my mechanics," Clark said. "Some plays I get lazy with my play-actions, my follow-throughs, things like that. I want to be so crisp I'll be able to complete passes in my sleep."
Clark has been on campus for every summer session since he arrived at Penn State.
He's far from alone.
The players who strive to be the best understand the time commitment it takes to achieve that goal. Giving up a good bit of their summer is merely part of the deal, with Lee noting the players simply have to look at it like a job or internship.
"There's going to be certain things that aren't always going to be fun that you have to do to have success," Lee said. "The sooner you get over the fact that you're going to be here a lot if you want to be successful, the better off you're going to be."
Lee went on to add: "Physically, guys make huge progressions through the summer. I think it's around this time that we actually work out consistently together, and the workouts are probably the toughest of all. Come July, we'll be up three times a week at 5, running at 6. So guys athletically can take a big jump now."
But what about burnout? Don't the players need to get away from football sometimes to stay fresh and maintain some perspective?
Of course, and the coaches understand that.
"We can take vacations," Lee said.
Joe Paterno praised his players' commitment to working hard throughout the summer and added that's simply part of the process now in college football.
"We had a great semester academically, and they're doing a good job this summer," Paterno said.
One player who's doing an especially good job, Clark said, is tight end Andrew Quarless. The often-troubled youngster is now a senior, down to his final chance to showcase himself the way he did as a freshman.
"He rings my phone off the hook to throw extra all the time," Clark said.
The quarterback also noted Quarless is "a beast in the workroom" and is "first in the runs."
"The attitude is way different," Clark said. "He's way attentive, he's paying attention in meetings big time. ... I think he knows that this is his last hurrah, and he's gonna go after it."
SUBHD: News and notes
n Penn State's two captains were asked to single out one player he believes will have a breakthrough season. Lee picked receiver Derek Moye, and Clark selected receiver Chaz Powell.
The slash role played by Derrick Williams will go to Powell, and Clark noted, "He's proving to us now that he can do it."
n Lee had this to say about linebacker Navorro Bowman, who has had his share of legal troubles: "Bowman will be fine. Bowman's a really good kid. He's a great football player. He's a guy, if you come to workouts, he's always working hard, he's always up in the front, always leading."
n Running back Stephfon Green, rehabbing a broken leg, continues to progress and should be ready for preseason camp.
n Former safety Anthony Scirrotto, a baseball standout in high school, was selected in the 50th round of the draft Thursday by the Kansas City Royals. Scirrotto never played baseball at PSU.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and email@example.com.