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July 7, 2014

Beh transforms before enrolling at PSU

Scranton has long been a Penn State stronghold, producing both players and fans.

Everyone knows about Mike Munchak and, more recently, Matt McGloin. But the northeastern Pennsylvania city has been sending players to University Park for almost a century. Hugh Rodham, the father of Hillary Clinton, played for the Nittany Lions in the 1930s. Don Jonas followed him a few decades later, becoming one of the stars of the late Rip Engle era before going on to help launch another college program that Penn State fans have gotten to know well the past few years: Central Florida.

The latest player to join that long line of Penn State-bound prospects is Scranton Prep offensive tackle Noah Beh.

Surrounded by Nittany Lion fans his entire life, Beh might seem like the kind of guy who was born to wear blue and white. But the truth is, he never had any aspirations of playing for the Lions.

"I actually didn't really grow up a big Penn State fan, which is funny because there are so many huge Penn State fans in our area," Beh said. "I didn't dislike Penn State or anything like that, but I just didn't really have a team growing up. I would watch whatever game was on with my dad when I was younger, so I actually didn't really have any bias towards Penn State."

Once Beh got to know Bill O'Brien and his staff, his feelings toward the school quickly changed. During a visit for junior day in February 2013, he received an offer from the staff, and he committed in June after working out with Mac McWhorter during one of Penn State's Advanced Skills camps.

In January, O'Brien left Penn State for the Houston Texans. Beh and his family were upset to learn that the coaching staff was departing. But as Noah's father, Jim Beh, pointed out, many of the people around the Penn State program were still in place. In the end, those people made it easy for Noah to stick with his original plan.

"From top to bottom, from the fans to the managers to the players themselves, I've never met such a group of well-organized and intelligent people," Jim Beh said. "I know that no matter who the coaches are, the people and players who he'll be surrounded by are excellent people, the type of people any parent would want their son to be associated with.

"Then, once we got to know Coach [James] Franklin, we both just felt extremely comfortable with who he is and what he stands for. It made us both feel very comfortable about the program and the people he'll be working with."

Beh enrolled at Penn State in June, but before he settled in, he had one more game at the high school level. Taking part in the Big 33 game, it was an experience Beh had been eagerly anticipating for quite some time.

"The Big 33 is... a really fun experience," he said. "I always knew what it was, but when I got to go down there two years ago to participate in this combine they have for guys my age - basically guys they're looking at to potentially play in the game in the next year or two - that's when making the Big 33 really became a goal of mine."

In the meantime, Beh has been focused on weightlifting. When he committed to Penn State last summer, he stood 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, raising concerns among some fans that he was too lean to play offensive tackle at Penn State. But he has put on 30 pounds in the past year and is continuing to hit the weights as he prepares for his first season at Penn State.

Jim Beh said he's proud of his son's dedication to the sport. "He knows he still has a lot of work to do," the elder Beh said. "But just seeing the work he's put in since committing to Penn State, I know that he's going to work hard at proving that Coach O'Brien and then Coach Franklin made the right decision, even though some people had questions about whether or not he's going to be big enough to play offensive tackle."


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