When KJ’s 18th birthday was coming up two years ago, his parents wanted to do something special for him because for the first time in his life his parents would not be able to be by his side. Thomas Hamler said that he wanted to call up his son and sing happy birthday. But his Mom, Latonya Gooding said she wanted to do something better than just sing. She wanted to rap. At first both Dad and Mom were suppose to spit a verse. But Latonya told me that it Dad’s verse wasn’t coming along very easily so it became a solo rap featuring an awesome hype man. KJ says that he literally started tearing up when he first watched the video and knew that he had to post it. The parental birthday rap went viral and KJ now jokes that he is trying to find his Mom a record deal because she is a great MC. It looks like the birthday rap is a tradition now. Here is the video from KJ’s 19th Birthday: 


The last time KJ Hamler competed in a game before this season was his junior year in High School. He tore his left ACL during the first game of his senior season at IMG Academy. KJ said when he got to campus he really thought that he would be able to play his true freshman season but he was still healing and dealing with a lot of swelling. He took it really hard when he found out that he would be redshirting but now he says it was the best thing for him because it was humbling and gave him time to grow. KJ had to focus on getting healthy and preparing for this season as guys like his roommate played as a true freshman. KJ’s mother Latonya said that they came to every home game to let him know that they still supported their son and let him know the importance of a redshirt season. His parents stressed to him “Everyone has a season, and when yours comes, you will shine.”


Johnson is currently a walk-on middle linebacker for Penn State. But he has already won a national championship during his time in Happy Valley. During his first season at Penn State he was redshirting for the football team when wrestling coach Cael Sanderson reached out to James Franklin about borrowing Jan for the 2015-16 season. Coach Sanderson lost both of his heavy weight wrestlers to injury and Jan was a two time High School AAA State Champion. Coach Franklin didn’t have a problem with it so Jan Johnson joined the wrestling team in late October. Jan wrestled in 10 matches and was a fan favorite because he would escape guys that weighed 40 pounds more than him. Penn State wrestling went 16-0 in dual meets and went on to win the national championship in OKC. The following season Jan focused only on football but Coach Sanderson kept Johnson on the roster just in case he wanted to come back and spar with his old teammates.


Miles says that it takes a lot of patience and maturity to wait your turn to play. Sanders said he focused on learning from Saquon when he was not on the field. He would watch how he handled 2 minute drills before the half and talking through what he saw on the field. Coming into the season Sanders said he was not going to try and be something that he is not. He is not trying to be extraordinary and fill Saquon’s shoes. He just wants to be himself. Sanders has also been working hard to expand his game by staying after practices and working with the wide receivers on the jugs and also getting extra work in catching with Trace McSorley. 



  • Ezekial Elliott: for his ability to run very down hill takes what should be 2-3 yards and makes it 6-7 just from continuing to attack defenses.

  • Todd Gurley & Le’Veon Bell: for their versatility they can catch out back field or run stiff arm you and run right through you


Saquon Barkley said that there is no better back in college football right now than Miles Sanders. He said he has the work ethic, speed, and talent and that he was always supportive throughout his time in Happy Valley. Saquon said that words cannot even describe how happy it makes him to see a his friend and former teammate getting his chance. Barkley remembers last season when he was dealing with a back issues leading up to the Nebraska game and he jokingly said that he had to fight through it and play because if Miles took the field everyone would forget that there was a Saquon Barkley. 

Saquon says that he loves the way Coach Ricky Rahne is calling plays. And he has really enjoyed watching KJ Hamler step into the spotlight and become one of the most electrifying players in college football. Barkley said that Hamler was absolutely spectacular on scout team last year but that you never know how players will execute when they enter games so he has been very impressed. Barkley also mentioned that this season is all about proving that they are not the Penn State of old, the Nittany Lions with sanctions that are rebuilding for a future. He says the way you prove that is by reloading when you lose players and he feels like this is the season that Penn State will really showcase its depth and arrival at the top of college football. He also has a lot riding on this game. He and Giants teammate and former Buckeye Eli Apple have a bet, if Saquon loses he has to wear an Ohio State shirt.