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NFL Legend Donald Driver Shares Wisdom, Advice With Players During Visit To Penn State Football Practice

Penn State football had a very special visitor at one of its practices in the build-up to this weekend’s Cotton Bowl Classic against No. 17 Memphis.

Donald Driver — a former NFL wide receiver who spent 14 seasons as a Green Bay Packer — stopped by to share some words of wisdom to James Franklin’s program earlier this week.

Franklin and Driver go way back. Penn State’s head coach worked as the Packers’ wide receivers coach in 2005 — right in the middle of Driver’s prime. The wideout, who won Super Bowl XLV at the stadium where Penn State and Memphis will duke it out on Saturday, registered 86 receptions for 1,221 yards and five touchdowns during his only season working with Franklin. Although they were only part of the same NFL organization for one season, the two have remained close ever since.

“Donald’s my guy. I love Donald,” Franklin said at Penn State’s Cotton Bowl Media Day on Thursday. “I can’t believe his kids are in high school now. It’s crazy to me. His wife is awesome. Donald is a total class act, and I was fortunate — because when you coach in the NFL and your best player is a great guy and sets the tone for the whole organization, you’re blessed. And Donald was like that. He was like that with me.

“It was the first time for our players to get to interact with him. They have all seen the pictures I have of Donald in my basement. Since we were obviously coming to Texas, I reached out to him, and he was able to come back, watch practice, and visit with our team afterwards.”

Naturally, having a Super Bowl champion and NFL legend like Driver watch you practice is a pretty surreal experience — especially for some of Penn State’s top pass-catchers.

“I think he’s a future Hall of Famer. I grew up watching him when he played with Brett Favre and all those guys,” star receiver KJ Hamler said. “Just seeing him in person, getting tips from him, and him helping us out as receivers was pretty amazing.”

“It was pretty cool experience — just having an NFL great at my position come to our practice and watch us catch the ball,” sophomore wideout Jahan Dotson added. “I wasn’t really a huge Packers fan, but watching highlights of Brett Favre and him always seeming to beat the Cowboys, my favorite team. I’m pretty familiar with Donald Driver.”

Driver’s message to the team wasn’t limited to just the Nittany Lions’ wide receivers. He told the players to earn their opponents’ respect and leave their stamp and legacy on the program.

Beyond that, junior safety Lamont Wade appreciated Driver’s perspective and one particular story of the Packers’ Super Bowl triumph in 2010. As Wade recalled, Driver told the Nittany Lions that Green Bay had to win its final three regular season games just to qualify for the postseason, and the Packers obviously went onto beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.

He also gave a much simpler message for the Nittany Lions’ defenders, according to All-American linebacker Micah Parsons: “Smash!”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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