Archive for the ‘College Football’ Category

“UPLIFTING ATHLETES” – The Charity for Rare Diseases

In College Football, Penn State Football on February 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Uplifting Athletes

In July 2013, as a result of a routine physical, it was determined that I had a 1″ cancerous tumor on my left kidney. Two weeks later, August 13, I had surgery to remove the tumor. When I woke up I learned that they had to remove my entire left kidney, my adrenal gland, my lymph node and a part of a rib. The tumor was imbedded and the cancer had started to spread. I had a 7″ incision being held together by 16 staples. Like any other person that has ever been told they have cancer it scares you to death. I started researching and reading everything I could about it. I learned that kidney cancer is considered a “rare disease”because it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans. As a result, there’s little funding for research and few options for treatment. It also doesn’t respond to chemotherapy and radiation so your choices are simple, you remove it or you don’t and take the chance it doesn’t spread.

During my research I came across and article about a man named Don Shirley. Mr. Shirley’s life activities mirrored mine in many ways. He was a high school coach, as was I. He had no symptoms or family history of cancer, nor did I. Mr Shirley first encountered kidney cancer in 1993 before finally passing away when the cancer came back in 2005, at the age of 55, I would turn 55, one month after my surgery. I also learned that Mr. Shirley had a son, Scott, that was a member of my favorite college football team, the Penn State Nittany Lions. He had graduated in December 2004 from Penn State with a master’s degree in engineering. I had coached at the Penn State Summer Football Camps for 12 summers and was a season ticket holder. I found the story of Scott Shirley very interesting as well and needed to know more about him and the charity that he started called “Uplifting Athletes” that raises money for nearly 7000 rare diseases.

I found contact information and reached out to Scott We’ve talked several times and communicate regularly through social media. the more we talked the more intrigued I became and the more I wanted to share his story. We recently sat down and did a question and answer session.

PHILLY PRESSBOX (PP): Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
I am a husband and father who helps college football student-athletes learn how to leverage the position they are in to help other by using their natural talents to the best of their ability. During my time at Penn State I was a wide receiver on the football team (1999-2003) and a catcher on the baseball team (2001). The degrees that I’ve earned include a BS in Engineering and Masters of Engineering from Penn State and I am an Executive Scholar from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Currently I serve as the Executive Director of Uplifting Athletes Inc and CEO of PledgePlatform LLC. Community involvement includes the Board of Directors for AmeriChoice Federal Credit Union and the Board of Governors for the Maxwell Football Club. In my free time I play semi-pro baseball for the Mechanicsburg Cardinals.

PP: How did Uplifting Athletes come about?
SS: Our effort started in 2003 when my father was diagnosed with kidney cancer and my family learned that little could be done because it was a rare disease – meaning it affected fewer than 200,000 Americans and lacked financial incentive to make and market new treatments. When my teammate/roommate Damone Jones (OL from Philadephia, PA) learned of our misfortune, he suggested that we do something since we were in a position to make a difference. Our team rallied around the idea of leveraging a summer strength and conditioning competition into a fund raising event called Lift For Life® by opening it up to our fans and the media. We soon realized that the benefits of this new organization were far greater than we had imagined.
The football student-athletes who were involved with leading this effort essentially created internship experiences for ourselves by reaching out to industry professional mentors. The benefits of off campus summer internships are well documented but are often void from the college experience of football student-athletes due to our year round commitment to the sport. We also realized that our teammates were actively engaged because this was something the team had ownership over, not a community service project that was planned by someone else. Finally, we learned that kidney cancer was one of more than 7,000 rare diseases (such as cystic fibrosis, Hodgkins disease or charcot-marie-tooth disease), affecting more than 30-million Americans and that we were making a big difference.
Since 2003, the Penn State Football chapter has raised more than $800,000 to benefit kidney cancer; its events have attracted thousands of fans and media and connected patients from across the country. Eight new treatments have been brought to market during this time, compared with only one in the previous 12 years. We have inspired 20 other teams to start chapters of Uplifting Athletes, too, creating a coordinated effort to elevate the rare disease cause.

PP: What is the mission of Uplifting Athletes?
SS: Our mission is to align college football with rare diseases and raise them as a national priority through advocacy, education, outreach and research. Our vision is to create an environment that empowers people to take action against rare diseases and inspires the medical community to find cures.

PP: How many football programs are presently involved?
SS: Our network of chapters includes more than 20 college football teams representing every major conference including half of the B1G Ten and ACC. Each chapter is run by current football student-athletes and adopts a rare disease that’s had an impact on their team. Collectively we have raised more $2MM to support rare disease research and have created special moments like “Jack’s Run” at Nebraska (the 7-year-old pediatric brain cancer patient who scored a 69-yard touchdown during their spring game). See the video clip below. Over the past six years we’ve graduated more than 200 Uplifting Athletes “Lettermen.” Their professions range from the NFL to Wall Street.

PP: You played for Coach Paterno at Penn State, would you care to comment on him, what happened to his legacy and his importance to you as a former PSU student athlete?
SS: Coach Paterno’s legacy is his former players. Our actions will continue to shape the memory of him and expand the impact that he had. Time and patience will heal the wounds from the Sandusky scandal.
Coach Paterno built a program on values that brought me and my friends together to serve as the catalyst, Uplifting Athletes.

PP: How can a person help that may just want to donate to this cause?
SS: Donations can be made through our website at and directed towards a chapter/rare disease or you can make a general donation towards our mission.

PP: Do you have any events or recognitions now that the college football season is over?

SS: Our annual Gridiron Gala ( is coming up on Saturday, March 8th. Tickets are available and it is open to the public. It is expected to be an outstanding event!!
Also, we recently conducted an online vote for the 2014 Rare Disease Champion. We are proud to recognize Nebraska’s C.J. Zimmerer. The trophy will be presented at the Maxwell Football Club’s annual award dinner.

The more I thought about Uplifting Athletes and how they operate the more impressed I became. Student athletes passing the torch from class-to-class and growing the chapters. How cool is that to be able to leave your legacy at your college by being the chairman for the year of such a beneficial fundraiser?

In closing, Scott Shirley has committed his life to making a difference through Uplifting Athletes. We commend him for his efforts in starting and growing such a great cause.

You to can make a difference by educating yourself about rare diseases and, if you are able, donating to the cause at


“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Virginia 17 – Penn State 16

In College Football, Penn State Football on September 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm

It would be easy to say that this loss can be blamed directly on the NCAA for allowing All Big 10 kicker Anthony Fera to walk away from the Penn State program and immediately become a Texas Longhorn, leaving new head coach Bill O’Brien and the Nittany Lions with an inexperienced kicker, on the road for the first time, and in a tight game when they visited the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville on Saturday. The truth of the matter is that kicker Sam Ficken should’ve never been in a 1 point ball game.

Penn State clearly outplayed Virginia for the entire ball game and deserved to win that game. It would’ve helped if  Ficken would have made a few of the 4 field goals he missed and didn’t have an extra point blocked, but again, it shouldn’t have come down to field goals. Here are a few facts buried in the game:

  • ·        Penn State forced 4 Virginia turnovers, giving the offense the ball at the 17, 17, 19 and 29 yard line but gained a total of 6 offensive yards after those turnovers and scored only a field goal.
  • ·        Penn State was 1 for 5 in the red zone.
  • ·        Penn State had only 2 defensive three-and-outs all afternoon.
  • ·        Virginia’s final drive was 12 plays, 86 yards and took 6:36.
  • ·        The Cavs had only 295 yards total offense for the game.
  • ·        Virginia was 9-15 on 3rd down conversions and 3 for 3 on the game winning drive.
  • ·        Penn State held Virginia to 32 yards rushing on 25 carries and 2 rushing 1st downs.
  • ·        Penn State averaged only 2.9 yards per carry on 42 carries.
  • ·        Allen Robinson had 10 catches for 89 yards and a TD.
  • ·        Penn State led 7-3 at halftime but lost the game in the 2nd half for the second straight week.
  • ·        Virginia had 10 penalties for 70 yards, PSU 3 for 24.
  • ·        Penn State ran 85 offensive plays to Virginia’s 61.
  • ·        Penn State had the ball for 20:03 seconds of the 1st half to Virginia’s 9:57.
  • ·        Virginia had the ball for 18:16 seconds of the 2nd half to Penn State’s 11:44.

As we discussed last week in the “View from the Philly Pressbox “ – Ohio 24 – Penn State 14, link is attached,, the only statistic that matters are the numbers on the scoreboard. Penn State outplayed and outworked Virginia and should’ve won the game. Matt McGloin played well, passing 19-35 – 197 yards and 2 touchdowns. McGloin battled through an elbow injury and showed solid leadership. The defensive front 7 that was pushed around last week by Ohio was rock solid until the last drive of the game. Michael Mauti led the way with 9 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Gerald Hodges followed with 8 tackles and a fumble recovery.

At the end of the day the ball game fell on Fickens’ shoulders and he didn’t deliver this time. However, as stated a lot of things happened on both sides of the ball that should’ve taken this game away from Fickens and been an easy Penn State victory. Unfortunately that’s not where Penn State football is today.

Next up, the Midshipmen of Navy come to Beaver Stadium for a 3:30 kickoff. This will be the first time Penn State has played Navy since 1974. The Middies opened their season in Dublin Ireland, taking a 50-10 whipping from Notre Dame. They had last week off to lick their wounds and will be looking to get on the winning track. For Penn State this is a “must” game if they’re going to salvage this season.  We look for them to be fired up and ready to play well against Navy and get their first win.

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” Ohio 24 – Penn State 14

In College Football, Penn State Football on September 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm

After watching the season opener of the “new era” of Penn State football one couldn’t think that they saw much good on the field for the Nittany Lions. Ohio University came to Beaver Stadium with a good ball club that was expected to put up a good fight, but this was Ohio University of the MAC Conference not Ohio State University of the Big 10!!

Early in the game it appeared that Matt McGloin may have improved under the coaching of Bill O’Brien as he ran a fairly efficient offense and took PSU to the locker room with a 14-3 halftime lead. As the 2nd half started it was very evident that the losses of Silas Redd and Justin Brown were significant. When starting tailback Bill Benton went down with an ankle injury there no weapons left on the offensive side of the ball. As a result the Penn State offense was limited to 115 yards in the 2nd half. The limited talent on this team was shown early when O’Brien made the decision to use 6-foot-2, 237-pound linebacker Gerald Hodges returning kickoffs and punts. Hodges is an outstanding athlete but has no business returning kicks at Penn State. As a result, he returned one kickoff to the 12 yard line and fumbled a fair catch that led to an Ohio field goal. This is a clear indication of limited talent.  

More importantly was not having Tom Bradley calling the defense in the 2nd half. I’ve seen a few times over the years where the defense was beaten up by better teams, but it wasn’t often. Ted Roof’s defense had no answers for the Ohio offense that rolled up 301 yards in the 2nd half alone, converted 11of 12, 3rd   down conversions, gave up drives of 82, 70, 50 and 93 yards and turned a 14-3 lead in to a 24-14 loss. The front 7 of the Nittany Lions are considered the strength of the team. This group was pushed all over the field in the 2nd half. There are two ways to look at this, either the players were outmatched or the coaches didn’t put them in a position to be successful. Either way, the result was ugly!!

At the end of the day, this coaching staff got severely outcoached by Frank Solich and his Ohio staff. Solich has been around the block and is a quality football coach that’s done a nice job at Ohio. As for Penn State, the importance of having a staff that had been together for so long may have been taken for granted. Very rarely was a Penn State team ever outcoached. It was even more unusual for them to not make the proper adjustments at halftime.

Our analysis of games at the Philly Pressbox is not usually based on stats. Stats can be misleading and often are. After all, the only numbers that matter are the ones on the scoreboard. However, there are always several stats that tell the story of the ball game. Obviously, one is turnovers. Ohio created 3 turnovers, 2 fumbles and 1 interception, and PSU none. Time of Possession is important because it allows teams to wear the opponent down and unless you’re playing against a quick striking high powered offense, if one team has significant time of possession over the other they usually win. Ohio led in time of possession 33:10 to 25:05. This also resulted in Ohio running 88 plays from scrimmage while PSU ran 70. Last is 3rd (and 4th) down efficiency. If the defense can’t get off the field because they can’t stop the opponent in 3rd and 4th down situations they usually lose. Ohio converted 14 of 22 while PSU converted 10 of 19.

As a Penn State supporter this was a very sad day. I was very proud of the fans for their support and for the players for their dedication to the cause. However, as I watched the replay on TV and heard the comments from the ESPN broadcast team that as they worked in State College during the week they found very little indication or recognition of Joe Paterno saddens me to know end.

As far as Penn State football, the feeling here is that this is only the beginning of a slide that will be very difficult to stop. This weeks game at Virginia was going to be difficult with a fully stocked lineup. The players can say that they will be better and that what happened against Ohio won’t happen again but the real question is this; do they have the talent on the field to keep it from happening again?

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2012 Penn State Season Preview

In College Football, Penn State Football on August 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm

With the college football season upon us we asked our friends at College Football Coverage to provide Philly Pressbox with an update preview of the upcoming 2012 season. As usual, they have provided in-depth position player analysis and game by game win-loss predictions. With all of the turmoil of the last year, a new coaching staff and the loss of several key players it looks like rough times ahead for Nittany Lions in 2012.

Feel free to leave your comments below. Also, you can follow all of college football, including weekly breakdowns of the top five games of the week, as well as order a nice college football preview at The website is free and the preview is available for only $2.99. The preview doesn’t cost much but it’s full of great information for the college football fan.

2012 Preview

Penn State Nittany Lions

 2011 Review

 Last season was a very disappointing year for the wonderful fan base, alumni and of course the storied football program of Penn State. Joe Paterno, the legendary coach of 61 years, was caught up in a very difficult situation that eventually led to his dismissal. With everything going on around the program, the team rallied and fought hard, but it was still another subpar season on the football field for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State finished the season at 9-4 and lost 3 of the last 4 games including a blowout loss to Houston in their bowl game. The offense really struggled in 2011 ranking near the bottom of the FBS in total offense averaging 342 yards per game. They also had a hard time scoring points averaging below 20 point per game. In fact, they were ranked 110 in scoring offense. The running game was really mediocre as well ranking 46th in the FBS with only 165 yards a game. Silas Redd is a very good player, but teams really stacked the box with the inability of the QB’s to distribute the football effectively. The passing offense ranked near the bottom at 96th in the FBS and only generated 177 yards a game. It was a very tough year across the board for the offense and the only positive was the offensive line which only allowed 1 sack a game and ranked 18th nationally in this category.

The defense was very strong in 2011, really driving the Nittany Lions to their 9-4 season. They ranked 5th in scoring defense at just over 16 points a game and 20th in total defense in the FBS. The rush defense wasn’t great ranking 42nd and giving up 165 yards a game, but the pass defense was strong ranking in the top 20 at number 17. They were also able to get pressure on the opposing QB’s ranking 26th in sacks for the season with over 2 sacks a game. The defense was the glue that held things together in this very difficult and tumultuous season for PSU.

Longtime assistant coach Tom Bradley filled in admirably when Paterno was let go, and he provided a glimpse into the kind of head coach he could be, but the Nittany Lions were just not talented enough to overcome their deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball.

 2012 Preview

  Penn State is looking for a fresh start as they embark on the first season without Joe Paterno on the sidelines. There were some people out there, including alumni, that didn’t particularly like the direction that the school went when they hired an outsider with no Penn State ties. Bill O’Brien, a first time head coach, and former offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick in New England, was hired to replace the long time legend in Happy Valley. We at CFC actually feel this was a great move by the school and not just a stopgap to something else in the future. This hire has the potential to be a monumental move and one that could save the program and actually propel it into the new age of college football. It will be tough with the hand that they were dealt by the NCAA, but he has handled himself very well and done a great job holding things together. O’Brien will implement more pro-style elements to the offense, he will develop the QB’s and the smartest thing he did upon being hired, was keep assistant coaches Larry Johnson, one of the best recruiters in the country and LB’s coach Ron Vanderlinden.

Before the sanctions came down, things looked positive for this new staff. They were recruiting well, there was a new buzz around the program and there was true optimism about what the future could hold.

Then came the very unique and uncharacteristic ruling by the NCAA, after the Freeh report was released, hitting the university with major sanctions including a 4 year bowl ban and the loss of scholarships over the next 4 years. This matter has been discussed and covered in this very forum, so we won’t get into the particulars of the validity of the report or the sanctions, but the NCAA was very heavy handed with the sanctions and it changed the entire dynamic for the 2012 season.

With ten players transferring including some of the very best on the roster in Silas Redd, Justin Brown and Khairi Fortt, this left PSU with a huge void in terms of depth and the offense will simply not be very dynamic with loss of such playmakers.

Penn State will now return two starters from last year’s offense that really struggled to be consistent. McGloin will be the starting QB and look for him to play better under the tutelage of O’Brien, but he has a very limited skill set.

The running game will look different with Redd at USC, and look for Bill Belton, Derek Day and freshman Akeel Lynch to get the bulk of the carries. This could be a serviceable group for PSU and Lynch is exciting, and could be the future at the position for the Nittany Lions.

The wide receivers will need to step up with the loss of Smith and Brown in the off season. Players like Shawney Kersey, Alex Kenney and Allen Robinson will have to produce. This is an inexperienced group, but they do have some talent.

The offensive line was pretty good last season, but they only return one starter from that group. Now, they do have some players coming back that have played before, so there is some experience. They will need to be the foundation for the Nittany Lions in 2012, and they have recruited well in this area, so we don’t expect a huge drop-off. This could actually be the best position group for PSU in 2012.

The defense will need to replace four of the front seven and two of the back four, but they have been able to recruit very well on this side of the ball, so we don’t expect a major drop-off in terms of production. A lot of the players that will fill-in next season have played for the Nittany Lions in the past. Players like LB’s Mike Hull and Glenn Carson.

Look for DE Deon Barnes and DE Sean Stanley to have a big years and DE Pete Massaro is back from an injury and he will provide depth. At defensive tackle PSU is pretty healthy with the likes of DaQuan Jones and Jordan Hill playing at the Nose and 3-Technique.

The second level will be solid with the above mentioned Carson stepping in. LB Michael Mauti is back and his leadership will be needed and of course the Nittany Lions return a tremendous player in Gerald Hodges at OLB.

If there is one area of concern for Penn State on defense though, it has to be the secondary, as they don’t have much depth. They will have two new starters pairing up with Stephen Morris and Malcolm Willis, who are back in 2012 for PSU. Corner Back Adrian Amos and Safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong will have to step up and fill the void of the departing seniors from last season. Unlike up front on the defensive line, they just don’t have the bodies to feel comfortable if any injuries occur.

Overall we expect the defense to still be very good and they will likely keep PSU in a lot of the games in 2012.

 Prediction Time:

 The schedule will be tough on Penn State in 2012, even with 7 home games. There will be some highs and lows, but with us projecting inconsistent QB play again, the Nittany Lions will once again struggle in some of the bigger games. We expect the offense to really struggle with big plays in the pass game and the run game will be more serviceable than explosive. The defense will keep the Nittany Lions in some ball games, but it won’t be enough.

We believe that the Nittany Lions will play inspired ball early in the season, but once the schedule starts to get difficult, the season will turn for the worse and we expect to see a very tough run through late September all the way through the end of the season. Below is our forecast for the season with game predictions.

  Schedule and Prediction for 2012 Season

 CFC predicts that Penn State will go 4-8 in 2012














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We would like to thank our sponsor for their support. Click the following link to check out the latest 2012 Penn State football items.

 Lastly, click on the business card below to see all of their items.


The Colllege Football Coverage Preview

In College Football on August 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm
This is a annual put together by our friends at College Football Coverage. It’s a great easy to read book with extensive detailed break downs of the Top 25 teams as well as predictions on how each conference will finish in the standings. There’s also a look at the pre-season Heisman candidates. All for only $2.99. See how you can purchase it below. Check it out and click on the College Football Coverage link below and follow throughout the season.
The 2012 College Football Preview Book is a comprehensive look into the upcoming college football season. You won’t find pictures, fluff or filler in this preview, just the information that any avid college football fan would want heading into the season. So what makes our publication different from all of the other preview publications out there? We have a very simple and concise format for you to follow, and we provide a quick snapshot of the overall landscape of college football. It makes for a quick read and provides enough information for you to be informed on how things will play out in 2012.
The CFC preview book is highlighted by our in-depth look at the TOP 25 teams, the Heisman preview, National Title Game preview and predictions on the BCS games; and we provide you with our predictions on how things will play out in each conference.
The CFC 2012 College Football Preview Book was designed specifically for tablet users. You can purchase it at the following online stores:Apple IBookstore (for Ipad) — available now
Amazon (for Kindle) — available now
Barnes & Noble (for Nook) — available now
Reader Store (for Sony Reader) — coming soon
Kobo — coming soon

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