It's mid-July — arguably the slowest news period on the sports calendar.

High school sports are a distant memory, or a blip on the future radar, depending on your perspective.

Major pro and college sports — with the exception of baseball — are on hiatus.

It's generally a sleepy time for sports fans.

That is, unless you like to follow Penn State football.

The news just never seems to stop flowing out of Happy Valley.

Here's just some of what we learned over the last week about the Nittany Lions — or former Nittany Lions.

Senior guard Miles Dieffenbach, who was expected to anchor PSU's offensive line, hopes to return for the final three or four games of the season after suffering a spring knee injury.

Promising sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg is working tirelessly to improve his strength and conditioning in an effort to become "bulletproof" while working behind his injury-decimated offensive front.

A pair of former PSU QBs, Rob Bolden and Paul Jones, are finding that life after Happy Valley is often anything but happy.

And, oh yeah, Dallastown High School graduate Ben Kline may become president of the United States.

Kline: Let's start with Kline first.


For those of you who don't know, Kline reportedly suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during a summer workout that will almost certainly keep him on the sidelines this fall. The junior linebacker started a couple games last season before tearing a pectoral muscle in early November that prematurely ended his season. He was expected to battle for a starting spot this year — until his most recent ailment. It's the latest in a series of health woes that he's dealt with during his time at PSU.

Of course, the news about his latest injury hasn't come from Penn State. New Lions head coach James Franklin adamantly refuses to release any information on player injuries, and Kline, ever the loyal company man, has adhered to the Franklin code of silence.

Still, it's obvious that Kline is seriously hurt. During the Penn State Lift for Life on Saturday, Kline cruised around PSU's lacrosse field on a scooter while wearing a plastic boot.

But his injury didn't prevent Kline from leading a record-setting Lift of Life. Kline is president of PSU's chapter of Uplifting Athletes, which runs the Lift for Life. This year's event raised more than $140,000. It's just one of several community projects that Kline is involved in.

He's also an honors finance major with a 3.85 grade-point average.

"Ben Kline has a presence," Franklin said earlier this year during a stop in York. "He's a tremendous leader, he's respected unbelievably by his teammates. He's involved with every aspect of community service that you could possibly be involved in. ... He does everything. Every time I'm on Twitter he's doing something in the community."

Given Kline's track record in the community and in the classroom, it shouldn't be surprising that PSU tight end Adam Breneman told Lancaster reporter Mike Gross on Saturday that Kline would one day be president of the United States. Breneman, who is a graduate of nearby Cedar Cliff High School, was likely just ribbing his overachieving teammate, but anything that the hard-working Kline does in his post-PSU career would not be surprising.

Dieffenbach: Dieffenbach is a different story.

He's known as the team comedian and generally a little more forthcoming with the media. While he wouldn't talk about his specific injury (believed to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament), he did acknowledge that he hopes to return for the last three or four games of the season.

Franklin likely wasn't happy that Dieffenbach revealed even that scrap of injury information.

Hackenberg: Hackenberg, however, was likely delighted to hear the news about Dieffenbach. His offensive line can use all the help it can get.

The heralded QB is coming off a strong freshman campaign and is expected to be one of the top signal-callers in the Big Ten — if he can stay healthy behind an offensive front that has more holes than Swiss cheese.

If an effort to keep him healthy, the staff at PSU is working hard to make him bigger and stronger. The 6-foot, 3-inch Hackenberg currently weighs in at a solid 235 pounds and hopes to clean 300 pounds by training camp.

"We want to make sure he stays as bulletproof as possible," Dwight Galt, Penn State's director of performance enhancement, told reporters on Saturday. "... We want to make sure he can take some abuse, if he has to."

Bolden, Jones: While Hackenberg tries to get "bulletproof," two former PSU QBs also made some news.

Bolden, who at one time was expected to be PSU's next great QB, has decided to leave Louisiana State and will likely transfer to Eastern Michigan, according to the Detroit News.

Bolden, started at PSU as a true freshman, but was never the same after suffering a concussion. He eventually lost his job to former walk-on Matt McGloin, causing Bolden to transfer to LSU. He quickly got buried on the LSU depth chart and never played for the Tigers. This past spring, he was moved to wideout at LSU before deciding to transfer again. According to reports, he will play QB at Eastern Michigan.

Jones, meanwhile, came to PSU as a heralded four-star recruit, but never played much for the Lions. He was moved to tight end by former Lions coach Bill O'Brien before transferring to Robert Morris, where he became the starting QB and enjoyed some success, completing 122 of 261 passes (46.7 percent) with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Now, however, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting that Jones will likely miss the upcoming season because he is academically ineligible. Jones is no stranger to academic woes. He was also academically ineligible at PSU in 2011.

So there you have it — the headlines from a very busy news week in State College.

Who said July was a sleepy month in sports?

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at