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Penn State Football’s Keaton Ellis Describes Return To Campus, ‘New Normal’

Seventy-five Penn State football student-athletes returned to campus on June 8 as part of Penn State Athletics’ planned “phased return” to voluntary offseason activities and workouts.

Sophomore cornerback Keaton Ellis met with the media Wednesday afternoon via Zoom to discuss the return to campus. He began the call by describing the necessary precautions and procedures players went through upon arrival.

“I got tested the other day,” Ellis said. “I went through all of that. We did some physical stuff. That is what this week has been really. Just making sure everyone is healthy and getting everyone’s return physical stuff done. I’m just really excited to be back.”

Ellis, a State College native, referred to coronavirus testing as a “unique experience.” He also added the team modified facility access procedures amid the rigid guidelines put in place by administration.

“As far as access to facilities, they’re being very strict,” Ellis said. “They have a lot of stuff in place so we can move forward successfully. Right now we’re strictly going to be in Holuba for the most part. That stuff will evolve as time goes on. They are just looking out for our health, which is good. They have a really good plan put in place.”

As a part of these strict guidelines, Ellis said that the players don’t have access to the player’s lounge or nutrition bar. Different food and drinks players would usually get on their own after a workout now need to be given to them.

Despite the abnormal procedures, Ellis and his teammates are prepared to do whatever it takes to get back on the field.

“Everything is not going to be normal when you go back,” Ellis explained. “You have to understand that, I understand that, and the team understands that. We’re ready as players to make some sacrifices because that’s what it’s going to take to move forward. Like I said, they have a good plan put in place. I believe we can get through this stuff successfully.

“I’m not worried, I’m excited,” he continued. “Everybody’s excited because we want to play football. At the end of the day that is what it is all about. Playing the sport we love. We’re going to have to go through some different things in order to do that.”

New public health guidelines have significantly impacted workouts so far. After all, small changes can make a big difference when gearing up for another season.

“The most different thing going back, for me, is the structure of everything,” Ellis said. “It’s walk in, mask. It’s six feet apart. It’s all this different stuff. When you work out, you are going to get a gator. It’s those little things that really make a big difference.”

Although Ellis himself hasn’t hit the weight room just yet, he’s heard through the grapevine just how altered things will be this summer — even if they’re on a granular level.

“We’re lifting three days a week, lifting and running, through Holuba,” Ellis explained. “We are starting our normal workouts like we would before, but with some different nuances as far as spaced out locker rooms, working out in the open outside, lifting in Holuba outside.”

While there are will certainly be challenges, Ellis believes the biggest hurdle will come outside of football when his teammates need to hold each other accountable to make sure they’re staying safe.

Ellis added the team will continue meeting through Zoom for the time being despite returning to campus. After all, it’s tough to safely pile 150+ people into one room these days.

Although virtual meetings may make things easier amid a global pandemic, Ellis can’t wait to get back into the swing of things. After all, there’s nothing like being on the field with your teammates.

“Getting back with my teammates is probably the biggest thing,” Ellis said. “Start building that camaraderie for the season. Working together, sacrificing together, sweating together, and bleeding together because that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day: that team camaraderie. We haven’t had that this spring, we didn’t have spring ball. I’m just happy to get back with my teammates and start grinding again.”

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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