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Paterno on mend; two more PSU players face discipline

| Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. - Joe Paterno is on the mend from his broken left leg, and he's showing off to his players.

Paterno has been using crutches that he can control with his hands and wrists. Occasionally, he'll even lift the crutches over his head and walk on his own power, too, Penn State linebacker Sean Lee said Wednesday.

"He's walking around a lot lately. Sometimes, he pulls away his crutch things," safety Anthony Scirrotto said. "I think he's enjoying not being in the cart a little bit ... to stay in shape."

Two players hurtled into Paterno on the sideline during a Nov. 4 game at Wisconsin. Paterno broke a bone and tore two knee ligaments in the left leg and had surgery the next day.

Paterno wants to lead his team from the sideline for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 against No. 17 Tennessee, though team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli has the final word.

"No doubt about it," Scirrotto said about whether JoePa would be on the field. "I don't think he'd have it any other way."

The coach, who turned 80 last week, has said that he is ahead of the rehabilitation timeline that Sebastianelli had set.

Paterno spoke briefly at a steak dinner for the two teams on Tuesday.

"You guys from Tennessee, don't get too cocky because I'm not going to play," Paterno told the Volunteers, according to a bowl release.

SIDELINED LIONS: Add backup safety Spencer Ridenhour and reserve tailback Austin Scott — who is taking a redshirt season — to the list of Nittany Lions not in Tampa.

Ridenhour, a sophomore, did not accompany the team to Florida because of an undisclosed violation of team rules, team spokesman Jeff Nelson said.

Scott did travel with the squad and practiced but has been sent home, Nelson said. Scott hasn't played all season and was expected to participate in the Outback Bowl against No. 17 Tennessee on Monday.

No reason was given Wednesday for Scott's departure.

Scott, highly touted out of high school, has a year of eligibility left after redshirting this season. He will likely be the starting tailback for the 2007 season.

Also, starting defensive tackle Ed Johnson didn't travel to Tampa as expected after having been suspended last week for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The senior has run out of eligibility, so his career in Happy Valley is over.

HUNGRY MEN: Football players devour free steaks like termites eat wood.

On Tuesday, the Penn State and Tennessee squads gathered for a steak dinner sponsored by Outback Steakhouse to celebrate the bowl game that bears the restaurant's name.

Just like that, 750 pounds of steak disappeared into the mouths of young players, coaches, school officials and some family members.

Also eaten were: 1,100 pounds of lobster and shrimp pasta; 700 pounds of Caesar salad; 200 pounds of green beans; and 950 pounds of "Bloomin Onions."

They even left room for dessert — 1,300 pounds of chocolate cake.

HO HO HO: Make it two straight years as Santa Claus for center A.Q. Shipley. Shipley donned the red suit and hat at the team Christmas party held at Penn State's hotel in Tampa. ... Fourteen players finished their degrees this semester and four Nittany Lions — defensive tackle Jay Alford, safety Donnie Johnson, reserve lineman Mark Farris and reserve safety Darien Hardy — received their diplomas during commencement ceremonies two weeks ago before departing for Florida.

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