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August 14, 2014

Light shines on Lions' line

Penn State continued its position-by-position look at the Nittany Lions as they make their way through the second week of preseason practice today in the form of the offensive line.

With offensive line coach Herb Hand leading the way for the unit that welcomes just one returner with starting experience, the feature will certainly be one Penn State fans will be interested to see.

That said, with the focus on Hand and the Lions' line, the personality of the Vanderbilt transplant is again worth taking a look at.

Specifically, Penn State head coach James Franklin offered this story about the assistant coach in his 25th year of coaching during the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago a few weeks ago.

Noting that, upon taking the job with the Commodores Franklin already had an idea of the assistants he would want to bring with him, he said he also knew some positions would need to be filled through an interviewing process. That, it seems, is how Franklin literally ran into Hand for the first time.

"When I first got there I was getting a tour through the facility and I opened the coaches locker room to walk in there, it was dark and I came walking and I kicked something and I looked down, we turned the lights on and it was Herb," Franklin said. "Herb was sleeping in the coaches locker room. He lived apart from his family for a year because he left Tulsa and his family was still in Tulsa and he was living in the coaches locker room. That was my introduction to Herb.

"We didn't retain Herb, we hired Herb. I think there's a difference."

Franklin went on to discuss his affinity for Hand and what the veteran assistant brings to the table not just in the arena of coaching, but outside of the context of football as well.

"Herb is very emotional like me. There's been plenty of times before the game that me and him are sitting in there, kind of having some deep conversations and emotional conversations," Franklin said. "He's seen it all in this profession, so he's very appreciative, kind of like I am, and he's an interesting guy. He's got a lot of things that he's passionate about, his family, cooking, interacting with the community and making a difference.

"He's a fun guy to be around. I enjoy Herb, I enjoy his family. His family and my family vacation together every summer. We have homes that are probably two blocks apart."

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