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September 3, 2019

Jonathan Sutherland

University Park, Pennsylvania

Q. You were active all across the board on special teams last week. Wanted to ask you, one, how do you think things translated from the off-season work with Coach Lorig? And, two, to have Jordan Stout out there just booming it out of the back of the end zone or putting them back in the end zone, how much of a boost does that give the team overall?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: Right. I think a lot of the success we've been seeing on special teams so far has been our approach that we took into the spring as far as the way we've been going about our meetings and our periods during practice. I think the preparation has definitely put us in a better position.

Q. Just wanted to ask about Lamont Wade as well. Obviously we know he put a foot in the transfer portal and then took it back out and stuck with the team. How have you seen him switch gears after that, and how rewarding -- I know you would like to be the starter -- but how rewarding was it see him out there getting his opportunity on Saturday?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: Right. I mean, there is no bigger person in front of the team, and Lamont obviously had his personal reasons of why he entered the transfer portal. He thought it was the best decision to make for him in that moment. Obviously when he came back everyone was thrilled. At the end of the day it's a brotherhood. I'm happy for him. He put the work in and deserves everything he's been getting.

Q. I want to go back when you were a recruit. Was it different to visit for a night game compared to noon or 3:30?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: When I was a recruit I don't think I had a visit during a night game I don't think. I couldn't relate to that.

Q. Going back to Lamont for a second, when he decided to stay, are you talking to him during that time frame in the portal? Are you still in touch?

Q. I know his locker was cleaned out.
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: He was still enrolled in classes, still going to school here, so, yeah, I was definitely in touch with him.

Q. How did he tell you he was staying?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I mean, obviously he had to have a lot of conversations with the coaching staff and his family back at home, but when he finally made a decision he let us -- the team know as a whole.

Q. And I think I want to say you were on all four special teams; is that correct?

Q. I believe you and Chisena are the only two guys doing that. When you look at that, how much pride do you take in that as a guy -- obviously you're special teams captain. How does that tie in?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I mean, it's a great honor and we take a lot of pride in that, being on all four special teams. Just like offense and defense, special teams is a phase of the game that can decide if you win or lose the game.

So we take a lot of pride in that and how we approach that.

Q. You committed to the same class as Sean Clifford. Came to campus the same year. One, what are some similarities that have not changed about Sean, and what are some things that are noticeably different about who he is mentally and physically?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: Aspects of him that haven't changes is definitely his work ethic. He's been a guy that as soon as he stepped on campus he's been working and his preparation and approach to the game has not the changed at all.

Obviously now being in a role of leadership and starting as our quarterback, he definitely took that and I feel like he's really excelled in his leadership and just taking charge of the team.

Q. Did you know that Brent Pry went to Buffalo?

Q. Do you think maybe some of the guys in the offense might be using that, a little trash talk in practice this week?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I'm not sure, but we got practice at 4:00 today so we'll see.

Q. Coach talked a little bit earlier about going in Beaver Stadium to practice under the lights to get used to that. Besides the lights, what are some of the things that are different from a player's perspective at night compared to a game earlier in the day?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I would say the overall environment. Obviously being under the lights it definitely gives you like a whole 'nother vibe.

Besides that, football is football. Regardless if you play at day or night, the game doesn't change.

Q. How did you end up on all those special teams? Is that something you asked for or they assign it?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I mean, I just took pride in coming to work every day and trying to contribute to whatever I could possibly do on the team.

I found myself in a position where I could excel on special teams, and I just went with it and kept working.

Q. Which role do you have the most fun with on special teams?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I would say probably kickoff, running down full speed. Definitely.

Q. Why?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I like hitting people, running full speed. (Laughter.)

Q. As a unit you guys gave up some yards on the ground last year. Coming into this week, how much are you looking forward to the challenge of facing a team that's going to want to try to pound it down your throat?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I mean, I don't think we're going to change our approach. We approach each week the same; doesn't matter who we're playing.

We take pride and we try to rise to the occasion and try to fit it into our standards. I don't think our approach to Buffalo is going to change as it was to Idaho, so...

Q. There was a time not too long ago that you wouldn't have been able to have your hair a long as it is. Is there a story behind how you ended up like that? It is it important to you?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I've had my hair for like ten years now, going on ten years. I feel like it's become a part of my identity at this point. When I was a kid my mom just braided my hair one day and I just went with it.

Q. Do you still snowboard?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I have not snowboarded.

Q. On Saturday we saw Jordan Stout with a 53-yard field goal. I think that was the third or fourth longest field goal ever by a Nittany Lion. As special teams captain you're able to see a whole bunch of them this off-season. When were you most impressed with him, and how far do you think he can kick this?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I mean, I was impressed day one as soon as he stepped on campus. With his approach to working, he has a great work ethic and takes pride in the little details of his game. I'm not surprised, to be honest with you, with the success he's had so far.

Q. Comfortable saying what his range maybe?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I have no idea. I'm not -- that's out of my area of expertise. I have no idea. I know he can kick the ball.

Q. When you kind of look at night games, a lot of people mention what do you do you all day? Do you do anything else in terms of watching more film, other games?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: Definitely. I mean, when we have an increased amount of time to prepare there is going to be guys who watch a lot more film, just discuss with neighboring positions of like what they see and how they're going to approach the game.

So I feel like, yeah, with more time comes more preparation or film study and dialog of what we tend to expect.

Q. Who's the biggest trash talker on the team?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I don't know. I feel like that's a question that I might need to answer later on during the season as we go through more games.

Q. We've heard a lot from the offensive linemen about how difficult it is in practice to deal with a defensive line that can go three, four deep almost. From your perspective, is any element to that to the runningback group Penn State has? We saw five guys score touchdowns. When you're on the practice down and they put another guy in, and another guy in, doesn't seem to be much a dropoff. What does that do when you're going up against them defensively knowing that whoever is stepping in has the ability to break one or break a tackle?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I mean, it's great. We have a great group of diverse runningbacks who are qualified and experienced enough and have put in the work in, and we're really confident in those guys. We see it during practice in their approach to practice, during the team periods, and during their individuals, that they're all ready to play.

Q. When you got to campus you could probably lean on a lot of veteran leader on this team. Right now though, six of the seven guys who scored were sophomores or freshman in eligibility status. When you look around, do you feel like this year is the start of a transition for the personnel and this team on the football field?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: Yes, I do believe so.

Q. What does that entail? We heard about the culture being a little bit different than last year. Is there anything definable that feels different about what you guys are doing on your first game day maybe versus what it felt like in the past?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: I would say we continue to take the same approach. Our approach to the game and approach to practices I don't think has changed since I've been here at least. But I do think we have a lot of young talent and guys who are mature for their age who are willing to step up to the plate, and that makes a difference.

Q. Anyone step up in terms of those young players?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: Yeah, I mean, there is just a big range of group of guys. Keaton Ellis is one guy on the defensive side of the ball who comes to mind who's had a good spring, a good camp, and it's just translate to the fall. We saw that with his play, so...

Q. Going back to the Indiana game last year, what did that do for you confidence-wise knowing you could have success at the safety spot in a Big 10 game like that?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: Yeah, I mean, obviously stepping up to the plate was a great challenge, but it was something that I prepared for. Although I wasn't starting, I was still preparing throughout the game week as if you were to be starting. When it did happen, wasn't really much of a culture shock to me, if that makes sense.

It was a great confidence booster just showing to my teammates and the coaches that I could step up and help this team get a win.

Q. What's the message been from Garrett on your progress, not just that game, but afterwards? How much of a mentor has he been to you?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: Yeah, he's been a great mentor to me on the field and off the field. He's always helped me answering any questions I may have. He's been in out defensive scheme longer than I have obviously, so any questions I have he always answer them and he's been a great help to me.

Q. We've heard from coaches and players about the progress that the receiver room has made since Coach Parker came to campus. Is it noticeable every day on the practice field maybe compared to last season and what the wide receivers bring fundamentally, physically, here in 2019?
JONATHAN SUTHERLAND: Yeah, I feel like we have a great diverse group the wideouts who each have their own talents in different ways.

Yeah, I definitely see that during practice, all their approaches to the game. It's showed this past Saturday on production, so...

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