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Thread: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

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    Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    BY DAN O'NEILL
    St. Louis Post Dispatch

    There are nearly 90 players on the field at any given time during Rams training camp this week. Technically speaking, none of them is more starved for wins than Josh Hull.

    In his two seasons with the Rams, the linebacker has experienced just nine wins in 32 games, including only two last year. What's more, according to the NCAA, Hull endured 52 consecutive losses during his college career.

    Hull was raised in Millheim, Pa., which is part of the State College metropolitan area. He had small-college offers to play football elsewhere, but he chose to stay home and attend Penn State University. He chose to pursue his dream of playing for coach Joe Paterno by walking on.

    Hull fulfilled that goal, or so he thought. He became an All-America linebacker for the Nittany Lions, won three bowl games and 40 games over four seasons. But according to the NCAA, which recently sanctioned Penn State in response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Hull and his teammates didn't win a single game while he was there from 2006-2009.

    For a kid who grew up in that environment and believes in the integrity of the program and the value of his experience, the developments have been gut-wrenching. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Hull takes a hit with the best of them out at Rams Park. But some bruise a little deeper than others.

    "I lost all my wins, they took them all away," Hull said. "We can't let one single thing like this affect the big picture at Penn State. They've done great things in the past and they'll continue to do great things.

    "I absolutely loved the school when I was there. Its coaches were excellent and I played with excellent kids. It was about more than playing football when you played for Coach Paterno. It was about him turning you from a young man into a grown-up. It was responsibility and accountability. I can't say one bad thing about Coach Paterno and the time I spent there."

    Hull is beginning a third season with the Rams after being drafted in the seventh round in 2010. Injuries have contributed to limit his playing time, which had been mostly on special teams. In 12 career games, Hull has three tackles and two forced fumbles. Last year, he was bothered by a hamstring issue before he missed the final two games with a high-ankle sprain.

    Now he is healthy and finds himself in a healthy battle for a job on a team that essentially has wiped the slate clean and put everything up for grabs. There are 10 linebackers in camp. James Laurinaitis will be one of those who stays, for sure. But after that, it's every man for himself.

    Meanwhile, he is trying to put what has happened to his beloved school and hometown in a proper perspective.

    "Officially, in the books, they took the wins away from us," Hull, 25, said. "I know I have two Big 10 championship rings sitting at home. I know I won over 40 games in four years there. The kids I played with and the coaches we played for will never forget all the victories and the times we spent there. ...

    "It's painful for everybody," Hull said. "It's going to be a long period of grieving for everyone involved in it. But Penn State is going to continue on. It's going to continue to be great and they're going to continue to win football games."

    As for the removal of the Paterno statue, Hull added: "The thing that people don't discuss is the Paterno Library on campus. In the grand scheme of things, what's a statue? He has a library that supplies the entire university with books and knowledge. To me, that's a little more important than a statue."

    Special teams

    The Rams have rookie placekicker Greg Zuerlein (Missouri Western) and rookie punter Johnny Hekker (Oregon State) atop their special teams depth chart. Both have demonstrated strong legs this week, with Hekker booming a few punts on Wednesday morning.

    That said, accuracy is still a work in progress. "We've had a couple of stray balls go from one field to the other, but we'll get that cleaned up," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said with a smile. "The interesting thing about both of them, if it works out that way, is they have the right mind-set, the right temperament, the right personality to handle the job."

    Fisher added one of Hekker's assets is his arm. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Hekker was a quarterback in high school. He completed four passes in five attempts during his college career, good for 35 yards and two first downs. The incompletion was an interception.

    "The reason John is here is for the most part he's a conventional punter," Fisher said. "A lot of the punters and punting formations (now) are a little unusual. But he's a conventional punter."

    Fisher then gave opponents something to think about when he added: "He's a very good athlete and he can throw. And that's a big part of our punt team his ability to throw."

    Ram-blings

    Running back Daryl Richardson was on the field and took part in some padded "gunner" drills Wednesday. A seventh-round pick from Abilene Christian, Richardson has been nursing a slight leg issue the first few days of camp. ... Among those fielding punts were receivers Danny Amendola and Nick Johnson, running backs Chase Reynolds and rookie Isaiah Pead, and rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Before an injury, Amendola was the regular punt returner last season. ... The full-squad practice today is closed to the public. But fans are invited to attend practice at 3:30 on Friday. The Rams then will hold their annual team scrimmage at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome, also open free to the public.


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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    Technically, O'Neill is correct of course. But the article is a bit disingenuous; Hull DID INDEED experience winning during his time at Penn State. Just because the wins were stricken from the record books does not negate the on field emotions and achievements of Hull and every other player at Penn State during the time they were there. I personally feel everything the NCAA threw at PSU was justified, but that isn't germane to the conversation, and regardless of what one thinks of Sandusky, Paterno and Penn State football, the players won on the field fair and square- regardless of what the record books say.
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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    Technically, O'Neill is correct of course. But the article is a bit disingenuous; Hull DID INDEED experience winning during his time at Penn State. Just because the wins were stricken from the record books does not negate the on field emotions and achievements of Hull and every other player at Penn State during the time they were there. I personally feel everything the NCAA threw at PSU was justified, but that isn't germane to the conversation, and regardless of what one thinks of Sandusky, Paterno and Penn State football, the players won on the field fair and square- regardless of what the record books say.
    I don't know all that much about the whole PSU mess, other than the fact that coaches and perhaps a faculty member or two were involved in a very nasty and illegal coverup. What I don't understand is why the players had to be penalized as well. There are no "bounties" involved here. If the players themselves were working hard both individually and as a team, playing by the rules - why are they being penalized too? Fire the culprits - not the team .. Am I missing something here?
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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    I agree with Maui. A couple of guys did some really bad things... so now it's the students who will get punished? Go after the criminals not the victims.

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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    I don't know all that much about the whole PSU mess, other than the fact that coaches and perhaps a faculty member or two were involved in a very nasty and illegal coverup. What I don't understand is why the players had to be penalized as well. There are no "bounties" involved here. If the players themselves were working hard both individually and as a team, playing by the rules - why are they being penalized too? Fire the culprits - not the team .. Am I missing something here?
    I don't think you're missing anything.
    Firing and prosecuting those responsible along with the $60 million fine would have been sufficient in my opinion. Plus Penn State will be paying out many millions more to the victims. That, plus the shame of it all would have been more than enough to insure something like this never happens again at Penn State and wasn't that the reason for the "punishment"? I think the NCAA was over zealous and succumbed to public pressure on this and as a result past and present players and the student body in general are the paying the price.

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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    Quote Originally Posted by harrydog View Post
    I don't think you're missing anything.
    Firing and prosecuting those responsible along with the $60 million fine would have been sufficient in my opinion. Plus Penn State will be paying out many millions more to the victims. That, plus the shame of it all would have been more than enough to insure something like this never happens again at Penn State and wasn't that the reason for the "punishment"? I think the NCAA was over zealous and succumbed to public pressure on this and as a result past and present players and the student body in general are the paying the price.
    I don't agree. Regardless of the current players and staff not being a part of that sordid story, Penn State football is the face of that scandal. Allowing them as a program to play in a bowl game, compete for a conference title or national championship flies in the face of all that is decent. And while it sometimes seems unfair that current players must pay for past sins, that's the way it is in college sports. Every player on that Penn State team had the chance to transfer, free of penalty, to another institution and play right away. And let's be honest: it's all about football- not education- to most of those guys.

    The horrific nature of Penn State's inadequate safeguards and lack of courage in dealing with sandusky warrants everything it had thrown at it. And the fact that Joe Paterno was never shy about holding himself and his University up as a beacon of righteousness makes the penalty all the more appropriate.
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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    I feel it's incredibly hard on these players. Hull is fine, he is in the NFl. There are other guys in the NFL. But there some players who aren't in the NFL. The highlight of their football careers was winning championships with Penn State.

    These players didn't cover anything up. They didn't touch any kids. They didn't do anything wrong.
    In fact, I think finding out that Sandusky was doing these things at Penn State while they were there would make them feel horrible. To hear that Paterno and the Penn St program covered this all up would also make them feel horrible.

    To add to that and punish these kids more, is just ridiculous. The team didnt exactly gain a competitive advantage with what happened. Punish the program with sanctions in the future, but taking away what these kids accomplished over the years is just awful.
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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    I don't agree. Regardless of the current players and staff not being a part of that sordid story, Penn State football is the face of that scandal. Allowing them as a program to play in a bowl game, compete for a conference title or national championship flies in the face of all that is decent. And while it sometimes seems unfair that current players must pay for past sins, that's the way it is in college sports. Every player on that Penn State team had the chance to transfer, free of penalty, to another institution and play right away. And let's be honest: it's all about football- not education- to most of those guys.

    The horrific nature of Penn State's inadequate safeguards and lack of courage in dealing with sandusky warrants everything it had thrown at it. And the fact that Joe Paterno was never shy about holding himself and his University up as a beacon of righteousness makes the penalty all the more appropriate.
    It seems very clear who the perpetrators were in this scandal. It did not involve the players. Just saying "that's the way it is in college sports" is more perpetuation of another kind.

    The cancer was clearly defined and operable, but apparently the decision to simply execute the patient was favored over removing the tumor. Decent? How is it decent to punish good kids who've given their best to a program within the rules? Sorry, I just don't see it.

    Free of penalty to transfer to another "institution and play right away?" Many of these kids are from other areas in the country, and signed rental leases, some were awarded scholarships, etc. etc. I believe the NCAA is wrong. We teach our kids to play by the rules, work hard, and good things will happen for you. Sounds like the NCAA threw the baby out with the bathwater ..

    I have no ties whatsoever to PSU, just for the record.
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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    I just don't see the big deal as far as taking the accomplishments away from the players. They still won those games. The brass must do what they must, but these games still happened. This was the universal reality and consequent memories by which these players will live the ramainders of their lives.
    Last edited by live4ramin; -08-03-2012 at 04:26 PM.
    "The horror"

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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    While I am no fan of the NCAA nor Penn State for that matter, I feel that some here are missing the point of why the NCAA "vacated" their wins.

    It was not to punish the players but to make sure that Paterno would NOT continue to hold title for the most wins in D1 history. Unfortunately, many of those wins came while Sandusky was on the staff and on Joe's watch.

    Fair or not it has to be this way...


    WHAT SAY YE?
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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    Why are we talking about the semantics of the Penn State thing? Who cares?

    Does anybody else think it is effing crazy that Jeff Fischer is saying that one extremely important aspect of his punter is TO BE ABLE TO THROW? I think that is the bizarro line from this article.


    I've never read anything like that being prioritized in a punter, and maybe we should expect some gambles by Fischer. This might even setup our punt coverage better by having the other team have to cover and prepare for a "throwing" punter.

    Anyway, I think that is the meat and potatoes of the article - definitely something to pay attention to.

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    Re: Rams linebacker from Penn State is adjusting to change ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMarkable View Post
    It was not to punish the players
    So the players accomplishments don't exist?
    "The horror"

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