Why Penn State football's 'teach days' are a key part of the program's summer

Between satellite camps, the few and far between off day, and NCAA summer contact rules, off-season coaching is reserved mostly for players, and not actual coaches, in college football.

It’s why ‘teach days’ are at the heart of what Penn State does each and every summer.

The concept is simple: Once the eight contact hours per week are used up (and most of it revolves around coach-led film study), the team’s veteran players are responsible for leading their unit, side of the ball, and/or team as a whole while the coaches work elsewhere, because the NCAA allows for only that number of hours for coach-player contact.

“They have to be students of the game, throughout the summer,” defensive coordinator Brent Pry said at the conclusion of spring practice. “The rules have changed a little bit, there is more flexibility for us and we’re able to spend a little bit more time.

“But, the old guys, the Jake Coopers, Jason Vrancic, and Koa [Farmer], the guys that really know the package inside and out, we’ll coach those guys up through the summer. When we’re out of town recruiting, or we’re out of town at satellite camps, have those guys watch a lot of film together.”

And it’s that film that is at the heart of ‘teach days.’ 

“They can come in, sit down and watch a segment, isolate a certain call or isolate a certain technique and watch it done the right way,” Pry continued. “Watch it done at the highest level by some really good examples, so that is what we’ll look for this summer.”

Some film will come from the 2017 season, and other clips will come from spring practice. Some concepts will pop up from even older game and practice film, though, while other shots might come from an NFL contest to demonstrate a certain technique or skill that is in the crosshairs.

There is time for weight room work and outdoor conditioning, too, as the strength staff really takes over in the months between the end of the spring semester and start of camp in late July. It’s on the players to keep each other accountable, however, and do some teaching, too.

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