STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- More than 200 alumni -- some from as far as Tennessee and Michigan -- gathered at Penn State's indoor practice facility Tuesday evening and shared their past experiences and challenges with current players.
Coach Bill O'Brien addressed alumni for about 30 minutes, shortly after tailback Silas Redd informed him he was transferring to USC. Current players, mostly dressed in shorts and T-shirts, walked single-file from the Lasch Football Building to the indoor facility.
Once they arrived, lettermen took turns speaking through a microphone and telling players they still had the support of the Penn State community. Several alumni said the theme of the evening was simply to stress the Penn State football team remained a family -- despite the sanctions, the Freeh report and the actions of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
"One thing we don't do is give up!" yelled one speaker, who could be heard outside.
A blue partition prevented onlookers from seeing the speakers. The meeting lasted a little more than 90 minutes, and players were then served refreshments. Some milled around Holuba Hall for more than an hour.
"It just put everything more into perspective, to see what they've been through and to hear how Penn State has had an impact on their life post-football and post-graduation," redshirt sophomore defensive end C.J. Olaniyan said. "It makes you really understand what Penn State's all about."
Players declined to comment when asked if Redd or other transfers addressed the team prior to the meeting of former and current players.
Most current players exited the building with a smile and something to snack on -- blue-and-white cupcakes, wings, chips -- and said they were glad they attended.
"We're staying together as a team, as a family, both former players and current players," offensive guard Eric Shrive said. "We're going to get through this thing together."
The meeting capped a long day for the Nittany Lions, who were greeted with a throng of about 3,000 fans during their 7 a.m. weightlifting session. Fans brought signs imploring them to stay, and chants of "We Are ... Penn State" could be heard from nearby apartments.
"It definitely says a lot," offensive tackle Donovan Smith said Tuesday evening. "It shows that we're not in this alone."