LFL

Penn State players sign autographs for fans at Lift for Life in 2017.

STATE COLLEGE - After a winter and summer of conditioning, Penn State’s football team looks smaller.

Not smaller as in weaker or frailer or skinnier, but as in leaner, with the fat trimmed off.

At Friday’s annual Lift For Life event at Holuba Hall, linebacker Jan Johnson, senior, said he weighs 235 pounds, exactly what he did a year ago.

Yet he fully agreed with the leaner impression.

“My body fat is down; I think I’ve added muscle,’’ he said. “With our nutritionists, we’ve really been working on body composition.

“If you’re not eating at McDonald’s, if you’re eating chicken of fish, just paying attention to your diet, it makes a big difference.’’

Strength coach Dwight Galt, who is really the ringmaster of Lift for Life, gave some other examples, many of whom look smaller but are actually heavier, thanks to the stripping of fat and packing on of muscle.

Veteran linebacker Cam Brown, whom Galt called, “our alpha male,’’ arrived at Penn State four years ago weighing 191 pounds. Now he’s 235, but with a crazy-low three percent body fat.

Junior Michal Menet, likely the starting center, said he weighs about the same, 312, as he did heading into last season. But he looks like a different athlete, again leaner and somehow almost compact.

“I think I’ve gained some strength,’’ said Menet, of Exeter High in Berks County. “I know I dropped some fat.’’

Defensive end Shaka Toney, who was part of a Philadelphia Public League champion 4X100 relay team at Imhotep Charter High School at about 190 pounds, now weighs 243.

“But he still has that 4.5 (40-yard dash) speed,’’ Galt said.

Sean Clifford, the presumptive starting quarterback in the fall, was about 220 when he got to Penn State in 2017. Now he’s 216, but is bench-pressing a remarkable 350 pounds.

“A lot of it is work ethic,’’ Galt said. “It took a little bit to match up his speed and size. He has to be able to throw, but he also has to be able, as a runner, to have the lower body to absorb hits.’’

The program has come off nine weeks of summer conditioning, which is more running- and agility-oriented and less weight room-oriented than winter workouts.

The players will get next week off, and then do 10 days of final summer training in which the focus will be on preparation for preseason camp, which begins the first week of August.

“We’ll lower the intensity a little bit and raise the volume,’’ Galt said. “We can’t have then running that hard through a two-hour (training camp) practice.’’

The Lift For Life if the main fundraiser for the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes, an player-run organization that benefits rare disease research and treatment.

UA originated at Penn State and now has chapters at 31 schools including Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State, Florida State and Wisconsin.

Friday’s event drew several hundred fans to Holuba, and has raised $31,698.61 as of Friday evening. Over its 17 years, the Penn State UA chapter has raised nearly $1.4 million.