(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) — The Penn State Nittany Lions kicked off their first preseason practice on Monday. Penn State is picking up after the fall out of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case where the NCAA laid down sanctions, including a four-year bowl ban and also allowed current players to transfer to other schools.
Head coach Bill O’Brien is entering his first season with the team and understands the team’s duties.
“We’ve got to understand our responsibility to the community, to children, to child abuse organizations. That’s No. 1. These kids understand we’re going to talk about that quite a bit. We’re going to show what we mean by that,” O’Brien said after Monday’s practice. “At the same time … they’re hard-working, good kids. They’re going to class and I’m proud to be their head coach.”
The team lost star running back Silas Redd to USC last week. Redd was one of nine players to transfer to other schools, but O’Brien believes the players who were on the field Monday morning will be staying put.
“I’m very confident that the guys out here today are committed,” O’Brien said. “Again, it’s day to day, but I’m confident in these guys. …They got up at 5:15 a.m. to practice.”
As for the players who chose to go elsewhere, “I respect those guys. They made individual decisions,” O’Brien said about the transfers. “But I think we’ve got to start focusing, like I said all along, on the kids that are here. … I think we’re really good where we started today. We’ve just got to keep getting better every day.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio